Friendship, Inclusion and Community Week 2022
Last week, from 25th to 29th April, CBS Secondary School, Mitchelstown ran their inaugural “Friendship, Inclusion and Community Week”, where the whole school came together to celebrate difference, to promote acceptance and to foster a deep sense of community. Our school has been in Mitchelstown for over 150 years, offering education locally when there was none, promoting values of a shared humanity, and creating a space for local minds to flourish. This ethos has grown so that today we have a school that not only enjoys excellence in academic and sporting achievements but is also a space within which all students can feel safe, accepted, and nurtured. It was the aim of the school, in fostering the week of events last week, to not only highlight this, but to celebrate it too.
A school is often seen as a microcosm of larger society, where we can all attest to the many differences that we see our day-to-day lives: different ways of thinking, of living, of being. A school environment, like a secondary school, also has such diversity. To acknowledge, and celebrate this, the school created two information walls: the Neurodiversity Acceptance Wall and the LGBTQI+ Acceptance Wall. The former outlined the many strengths that align with various neurotypes, from the ability to hyper focus, to easily see connections and patterns, to the ability to be logical and critical thinkers. The latter gave information on the various Pride flags, their meaning and history, information for support groups, and information on pronouns. While the school intended to raise the Pride flag, circumstances on Wednesday rendered that impossible. The flag will, however, be hung in a prominent position in the school instead.
The school also ran a poster competition entitled “Where I’m From”, where students were asked to create a poster based on an aspect of their identity, which could include information on local towns and villages, to information on ethnicity, religion, or more general background. For our First Years, for whom the last two years of primary school, and their First Year were disrupted as per Covid, there was a focus on building the link between the TY mentors and their respective First Year students. To this end, the TYs ran a soccer tournament for each of the First Year classes, where the chance to play soccer on a Friday morning was matched by the chocolate for the winning team from each respective class.
Last week also saw in-school talks and workshops. To coincide with Autism Acceptance Month and in light of the fact that we are lucky enough to not only be in a position to open our third autism class this September, but also in light of the procurement of our new school dog April, curtesy of Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, the whole student body was either given a talk on autism from Asiam, as per the junior students, or was shown an excerpt of Jody O’Neil’s highly acclaimed play “What I (don’t) know about autism”, as per senior students. Both activities were delivered by autistic individuals, something for which the school was especially cognisant to promote: the lived experience will always supersede any amount of conjecture that can be given from a distance.
While the school recognises and celebrates difference, it ultimately adheres to the ethos that an effective school community is one where the school has a shared sense of self. In this vein the school ran a three day “Random Acts of Kindness” initiative, where each member of the school was encouraged to anonymously enact an act of kindness. The school also held three bespoke anti-bullying workshops, to ensure that in the school, any form of bullying and exclusion is not tolerated.
To deepen the concept of a positive collective school experience, there were also two whole-school activities. The first was the inaugural student versus teacher soccer match, which was held in Park Utd, and attended by the whole school. It was a fantastic experience that was full of gentle competitiveness, mutual respect and many, many laughs. And while Mr Nash, as a referee, made some “contentious” calls, while the slope was certainly one-sided, and while an extra player may have appeared on one side, it was an incredibly positive experience, where nobody will forget Mr Carey’s goal from a free! Special thanks must be given here to Tadhg Nolan and his fellow Sixth Year students. They were the driving force in this activity and spearheaded the initiative, and the school are incredibly proud of their endeavours.
The week finished on Friday 29th April with a whole school walk for the last three classes, which was followed with hot refreshments curtesy of the school’s Parents Council. The sun was shining, the food was delicious and the calm and positive atmosphere in and around the school was palpable. The week came to a lovely end, was undoubtedly positive and will invariably be an annual occurrence going forward. To this end the school would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole school community for their active engagement in all aspects of the week. Special thanks needs to be given to the Student Council, teachers, SNAs and ancillary staff, the Parents Council for their help with refreshments today, but most importantly to the students. It was how each and every student held themselves during the week, especially at the match and on the walk, that deserves specific mention: they were an absolute credit to the school. The CBS look forward to this week being an annual occurrence going forward… though the students might want to choose their referee with greater care next year!
Picture One: a collage of pictures from the week’s events
Picture Two: Congratulations to our U15 hurlers on their comprehensive win against Patrician Academy, Mallow, last Friday, who won on a scoreline of 3-17 to 1-13
Picture Three: Congratulations to our senior footballers on their one point win over Coachford on Tuesday in what was ultimately an extremely close game. The team are now through to the county semi finals. (Final score: 0-16 to 1-12)