I hope you are having a lovely weekend. I thought I would write a blog post highlighting Catholic Schools Week 2016 which commenced on Monday 31st January 31st and concluded yesterday on Saturday, February 6th.
The theme this year was Catholic Schools: Challenged to Proclaim God’s Mercy. It is hoped that this theme will help contextualise the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
This year, for the first time, resources were not emailed to schools but were available to download from a number of websites including Kandle.ie and the Archdiocese Dublin resource website. Pope Francis wants this to be the year when we remember that our God is a God of mercy, a God of love and compassion, a God who forgives all and always forgives. God’s mercy is for everyone; no one is excluded. This year we are invited to consider what that means for each one of us as a member of God’s family. Teaching in a Mercy school, this Catholic Schools Week was highly significant and started the New Year with a great school celebration. The idea of Catholic schools week is to give schools an opportunity to explore the benefits of a Catholic education and what this year of Mercy is all about.
One of the Religious Education teachers in my school, Mr McCoy has been a great inspiration to me since I first started teaching in the school. He is one of the teachers that I look up to as an Newly Qualified Teacher and he is so kind, approachable and always has so many new ideas and is always so welcoming of any ideas that I might have. One thing that struck me when I came into the school was the positive quotes noticeboard that Mr McCoy established in the Front Hall and a slideshow on the television of positive quotes that all staff, students and visitors can see everyday. You can see the passion he has for teaching and this is evident in all of the work he does for the Religious Education department in the school. He did a great deal in preparation for Catholic Schools Week and held many activities to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. He also ran a week long competition in the school. There was a question on the noticeboard (question was on the orange paper below) relating to Catholic Schools Week everyday and students had to drop their entries into a box in the Front Hall.
I made a slideshow about Catholic Schools Week which included quotes about Mercy, school life and Catholic schools week and it was displayed in the Front Hall for the whole school to see on the screen (below). If anyone would like a copy of this please let me know below or at my Twitter handle @5j16MsDignam
Mr McCoy also remembered the teachers when celebrating this week and brought in treats for all of the staff which went down extremely well. Even though the Mock examinations began this week for all third and sixth year students, I felt there was great spirit in the school and the students participated in all activities.
The beginning of Catholic Schools week began in school on Monday, February 1st which was the Feast day of St. Brigid. An extensive list of resources and activities to celebrate St. Brigid’s day with students can be found on the Archdiocese of Dublin website here. On Wednesday February 3rd, it was a celebration of Grandparents day as apart of Catholic Schools Week. I designed cards on Microsoft Publisher and left them in a box in the Front Hall, which all students pass by everyday. Students could take a card and write their own personal message and give them to their grandparents. In RE classes, these cards were also widely available for students.
Wednesday was also the Feast day of St. Blaise who is the patron saint of throat illnesses. You can find prayers, resources and activities on the Archdiocese of Dublin website here.
A great source of information and resources I found for Catholic Schools Week was on Twitter and under the #CSW16. One Twitter feed I really loved was @NCEATALK who are The National Catholic Educational Association and has provided leadership, direction, and service to Catholic educators since 1904. They are based in Virginia in the United States and they posted encouraging ideas and tweets all week on their Twitter feed. Another source of inspiration for me was through Pinterest. It is so interesting to see what other schools do to celebrate this exciting week.
The highlight of Catholic Schools Week 2016 for me was being in a school that appreciates , understands and respects the work of Catholic Education. It was evident to see a whole school approach and I thoroughly have enjoyed the weeklong celebrations. I am already looking forward to next year’s Catholic Schools Week already!