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Sixty four pupils and eight teachers travelled from Our Lady’s Secondary School, Templemore to Berlin for five days during the October Break. We stayed at Hotel Tiergarten in the heart of the city. What a welcoming four star hotel it was with a buffet extravaganza breakfast to die for. We visited all the fabulous sights including the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Checkpoint Charlie Museum documented the human history of the Berlin Wall, located next to the legendary Checkpoint Charlie. On our first evening we dined in the Paulaner Restaurant in Spreebogen, where we ate traditional Schnitzel and Pommes Frites.

On our second day we travelled to the Autostadt, Wolfsburg, where we visited the largest car manufacturing company in the world. 2,800 cars are produced daily here. We travelled around the factory by train and really only saw a tiny fraction of the production plant. It was an incredible experience of modern technology as we witnessed the robots in action. We saw interactive exhibits, simulator crash tests, a car design studio and an area dedicated to the history of motor vehicles to name but a few. There is also a car distribution Centre, where people can come and collect their new Volkswagens. Vehicles travel straight from the factory floor via a tunnel to the car towers. Each brand of the Volkswagen group has a separate building and exhibition area, Bentley, Lamborghini, Skoda, Audi,Volkswagen and Seat. When we returned to Berlin, students dined at the famous Route 66 American diner restaurant.

On our third day we travelled to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. We had a guided tour that was exceptionally enlightening regarding how and why such systematic extermination operations of the SS took place. The famous film “The Counterfeiters” is in fact based on an event at his camp. This was a very poignant visit indeed. We then visited the Olympic Stadium built for the Games in 1936. This is where the International Youth assembled in Nazi Germany to be greeted by Hitler before the start of World War 2. We visited the Football Stadium, the home of the famous Soccer Club Hertha Berlin. Lots of jerseys and souvenirs were bought in the Fan Shop. Later we stopped at Alexanderplatz for shopping. That evening we had great fun at Schillerpark Bowling Alley, where we also dined. Teachers and students proved their great abilities and skills at Bowling.

Day four we had a total fun day, when we went to “Tropical Island” Waterpark. It is Europe’s largest tropical indoor beach, sauna with mangrove swamps and idyllic lagoons. Students enjoyed thrilling rides on Germany’s famous waterslides. Later that evening we dined at Piazza Rossa. We visited the famous TV Tower. Students went to the top of this 368 m structure, the tallest building in Germany. Here they experienced amazing panoramic views of the entire city of Berlin.

On day five, we relaxed at Berlin Tiergarten, which is Germany’s oldest zoo. We had lunch at “Biers”, a very famous restaurant for the best Currywurst in Berlin. We visited the “Story of Berlin” and the underground Bunkers. We spent some free time shopping on the Kufürstendamm. If the truth be known, we were in awe of the prices on this most famous shopping street in the world.

Back home to Dublin and Templemore, safe and sound. So many varied Germanic cultural experiences encapsulated into five days. What a trip! An experience of a lifetime! A sincere word of thanks to the most wonderful 64 Students, boys and girls who travelled on the trip. Their behaviour, cooperation and sense of fun was impeccable. They participated in a very intense programme of events, often tiring and challenging, but their involvement was top class at all times. Credit to their parents, school and teachers who travelled with them.

Our wish is that this exposure to German Lifestyle has strengthened the students’ knowledge of German and that they may be encouraged to return to Germany someday.

Hurling

The Harty cup team continues to train hard in preparation for their second game against the losers of Bandon Hamilton High School and  Ard Scoil Rís. This game is scheduled for December 16th at a venue to be decided.  Our Lady’s earned a date against the weaker opposition as a result of having overcome St. Flannan’s in the first round at Nenagh on October 25th .  The management team of Mr. Tom Byrnes, Mr. Noel Fogarty and Mr. Joe Gallagher will take nothing for granted in this game and preparation is proceeding in a business-like manner at the moment. Commiserations to the Croke and Corn Uí Chátháin teams who were beaten in their competitions in the past couple of weeks. 

Entrance Scholarships

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Congratulations to Leaving Cert 2016 students, John Carroll and Conor O’ Brien who were awarded entrance scholarships to UCD at a ceremony in the Tony O’ Reilly Hall on November 16th.  These prestigious awards are conferred on High Achievers in the Leaving Cert who pursue particular courses at Third Level. John Carroll who is from Errill and Conor O’ Brien from Templemore did their Leaving Cert exam  at Our Lady’s in June and began their studies at UCD in September.

On November 22nd another Our Lady’s Student, Karolina Varadi will be awarded an Entrance Exhibition Award to Trinity College as result of her Leaving Cert Achievement. Well done to all the students and especially to their families and to their teachers at Our Lady’s.

Cerys and GlynnLes Misérables – a Resounding Success

Congratulations to the cast and production team of Les  Misérables  who last week staged four moving and memorable performances of the world’s most popular musical. Once the curtains went up on the first show it was immediately clear that the many weeks of enthusiastic preparation had paid off. From Wednesday to Friday packed audiences watched with rapt attention as the tale unfolded of Jean Valjean, flawlessly depicted by Patrick Carroll, as he tries to start a new life and gain respect following a prison sentence for theft.  Valjean’s attempts at redemption are repeatedly thwarted by  ruthless police inspector, Javert , convincingly portrayed by  Russell Doyle.  In addition to these two principal characters who were consistently strong all week, every one of the main characters was equally well cast. Aoife Kelly as poor factory worker, Fantaine performed with characteristic ease while Cheyenne Stewart as her daughter, Cosette was perfect for the part and sang beautifully in each performance. Equally memorable were  Éponine played by Shannon Grant, Marius played by Ben Collins and  Enjolras played by Michael Fogarty. Glynn Stewartas Thernardier and Cerys Loughnane as Madame Thernardier  fitted the parts perfectly and provided  much light relief in an otherwise quite pessimistic narrative. Aoife Shelly as Young Causette, Jack Nevin as Gavoroche, Colm Lawlor as Bishop, Roberto Iannelli as Bamatabois, Niamh Kennedy as Fenilly, Dara Nolan as Courfeyrac, Joseph Boyle as Combeferre and Emma Grant as Young Eponine each made the part their own and left those who attended more than one performance look forward to the moment when they came centre stage in successive performances.

Overall, powerful singing, strong acting, authentic costume, and beautifully smooth stage movement and scene transition combined to create a unique and memorable theatrical experience for all who attended the show.   

Sincere congratulations to the cast and production team on a job well done.  Special  congratulations to Ms Anne Marie Johnston (Producer), Ms Therese Maher(Director/Choreographer), Mr Pat Marnane, Ms Fran Garry (Musical Directors), Ms Eimear O’ Callaghan(Music Teacher), Ms Aileen Cashman (Costumes), Ms Tara Talbot (Programme)  and Mr. Paul Fogarty (Sponsorship Co-ordinator).

Thanks   to everyone who attended the musical over the four performances and especially to almost 600 primary school students and their teachers and support staff who watched the first show on Wednesday. Well done to all the students from surrounding primary schools who submitted entries for the art and literacy competitions run in conjunction with the musical.

Finally thanks to all members of staff who worked so hard in many different roles and at different times to ensure that this huge undertaking was a success.

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In May 2016, thirteen students from Our Lady’s Secondary School Templemore were chosen to join The Hope Foundation’s School Immersion Programme. The Immersion Programme gives Transition and 5th Year students the unique opportunity to travel to Kolkata for one week and to visit HOPE projects on an educational and cultural visit to witness first-hand the work of HOPE and the extremities of life in Kolkata.

As part of the programme, each student must commit to raising a minimum of €2300 for HOPE, as well as covering all their private costs including flights, vaccinations and travel insurance.

The thirteen students from Our Lady’s, Grace Martin, Lara O’Toole, Christina Cleary, Eva Rush, Zara O’Connell, Johanna Finn, Aimee Gleeson, Sophie Cantwell, Cheyenne Stewart, Katie Giles, Liam Nolan, Roberto Iannalli and Ben Collins ran a number of fundraising events, both together as a group and individually. Each student raised a minimum of €2,300 which will be donated directly to the Hope Foundation. These events included Sponsored runs, the selling of Butlers HOPE chocolate bars, a Ball, a Tractor Run, donations from bag packing, church gate collections, concerts and a table quiz.  All students will pay for their flights and expenses separately. This has come about from presents and the proceeds of part-time employment.

The students will be accompanied by two teachers from the school, Ms Marion Quinlisk and Ms Linda Fogarty.  Both teachers must also raise an additional €2,000 each. As part of the fundraising a Table Quiz has been organised for Friday 11th of November in the Templemore Arms at 8pm. Tickets will cost €20 for a table of four. The quiz master on the night will be Mr Seamus Bourke. There will be a raffle and spot prizes on the night. A great night is sure to be had by all.

The group of students and teachers will depart on Thursday 9th February 2017 and will visit residential care homes, schools, slums and hospitals funded by the Hope Foundations. They will return on Thursday 16th February 2017.