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The Annual End of Year & Graduation Mass was held on May 25th in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity Bunclody.  The Celebrant was Very Rev. Fr. Laurence O’Connor, P.P. Bunclody.   Following the Mass the principal, Ms. Frances Threadgold, spoke to the congregation.   “Today as another academic year comes to an end we gather as a school community to  celebrate.   The End of Year Mass is an FCJ  tradition and has always been central to school life for us. Also a part of today’s ceremony that I am looking forward to is the conferring of a 6th year student with the Good Fellowship Award, which is our tribute to that  student who has been judged to have been outstanding in the school by their spirited commitment to its life and purpose.

First I want to thank:   Fr. O’Connor who celebrated the Mass for us here today and take this opportunity to express our condolences to you, Father on the recent sad loss of your sister.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam;  The RE teachers who helped prepare the Mass and in particular Ms. O’Neill and Ms. Grufferty;  The 6th years and the other students who participated in the Mass and all involved in the Ceremony of Light.   I welcome in a special way the parent representative, Ms. Aideen Breen, and the Chairperson of our Board of Management, Mr. Fran Stephenson;  Thanks to Ms. Nicola Carr and Ms. Eileen Martin who produced the Mass booklets;  Mr. Pat O’Gorman who came down especially today for sound;  Mr. Hennessy for all his work with the choir;  Especially this afternoon I would like to thank the staff, teaching and non, for all their help today – I really appreciate it.

As always I mention here the Deputy Principal, Mr. Daly. This is my chance to say Thank You to him, on your behalf, for the boundless energy he brings to the job and all he does for you the students, for the school and for me as principal. I must say Jack Moynihan and Lizzie Breen’s depiction of you Mr. Daly on the  Graduation Certificate is a sight to behold. 6th years I think you all will enjoy the trendy image they have created.

The term has seen many changes and indeed loss.  Today I sympathise with two or our students – Cian Delaney, Marie I, and Leona Maguire, Colm IV, who both lost their Dads since we were last here and I am aware that death and loss have visited the homes of some of our other students and staff and we pray for you all today.

Thankfully we have lots to be grateful for too.    Our school has recently been awarded its first Green Flag, which flies proudly at the front of the school beside our Active School flag and our very important Blue Shield Flag for Anti Bullying.  Thank you to all the people who have been involved in the hard work of earning these flags with a special word of thanks to the co-ordinator Mr. Daly.

The spirit of generosity has been foremost and I always enjoy listing all the money that has been raised for charity through various ways.   I begin with The Student Council. You did a great job last week raising money for Pieta House during our Anti-Bullying week by selling Ice Cream at our Teacher-Student match, which I am delighted to say the Teachers won! A special mention goes to Caitlin Clauson and Michaela McDonald and a big thank you to Ms. McIvor for all your time and guidance you give to the Council.  Once again the 4th years have raised money for Bunclody Day Care, The Irish Heart Foundation & the Alzheimers Society.   In LCVP – 5th Year  raised money for Cycle Against Suicide, Down Syndrome Ireland & the Lions Club.

We have had great success in TY this year which we saw recognised earlier today, including our Mini-Co success at County Enterprise level for two companies who were mentored by Ms. Behan, and the EcoUnesco team reaching an All-Ireland Final under the guidance of Ms. Catherine Doyle.

Earlier today we applauded the sporting achievements of our school including reaching a Leinster Semi-Final in Camogie. But it is especially noteworthy that for the first time in the history of the school we are U.16 Leinster Football Champions. That is some feat considering we took boys into FCJ for the first time in 1969. Well done to those boys and a big thank you to Mr. Daly, Mr. Fitzgibbon, Mr. Earls & Mr. Robert Murphy  for all their hard work and motivation with the boys.

That team spirit too is being experienced by four of our 5th year students who have travelled to Lourdes to help with the invalids on the Diocesan pilgrimage. Chloe, Lauren, Paddy and John have, I am sure, been enriched by the experience.

Well done too to Aoife Doyle and Shauna White who have attended school every day for their entire secondary school years – 12 years between the pair of them!! What a great achievement.

The month of May is designated as a time to raise awareness about mental health and in particular positive mental health. The Walk in my Shoes and the Green Ribbon campaigns organised by Ms. Murray in our school are both very worthwhile endeavours to get people talking about mental health.  This year saw our school become part of the Cycle Against Suicide campaign culminating in the overwhelmingly successful cycle from Wexford to Gorey earlier this month. The trojan work done by Ms. Emily A. Doyle to prepare the students and six other teachers for the cycle is to be commended and I know the students appreciated all that was done by Ms. Anne Carroll, Ms. Doyle and all the teachers involved. I love the orange bike you, the students, presented to the teachers last week. It is proudly on display in the front courtyard of our school.  To the students who cycled I compliment you on how you behaved on the day. All the teachers involved were very proud and said you were true ambassadors for FCJ Bunclody. What a great positive contribution you have all made to the positive mental health of many people and it is important to repeat that “It’s ok not to feel ok and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help”.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from somebody who has nothing to do with our school but who had encountered our 5th and 6th years at an evening   performance of a play in Wexford. She was blown away with how well behaved and respectful you all were to each other, to teachers and to members of the public. She complimented your uniform, your behaviour and attitude and I think that is worthy of public acknowledgement here today.

And so today we celebrate you, our Leaving Certs. I will begin with the annual Student – Teacher match last Thursday…. I think, 6th years you will agree that Mr. Earls deserves special mention here. He put huge work into ensuring your fun afternoon went well for you all . . . . . . no easy task! So thank you Mr. Earls…   The last week has been full of emotion, high and low. Throughout it all, Sixth Years, I must commend you for the lovely atmosphere and good humour you have shown both to your classmates and to staff. In showing Faithful Companionship you are indeed embedding that ethos for the students who will follow you next year and beyond. You are playing your part to ensure school is a safe and happy place for all.   Remember the theme of today’s Mass is “Fear not the future …….. Weep not for the past”.   So I hope today 6th years that among the many emotions you are going through that you feel a sense of pride

in being part of FCJ for the last 5 or 6 years. I hope too that each of you feels your individuality and difference has been allowed to blossom while yet being treated as equal in our school. Being yourself, being comfortable in your own skin and feeling safe to express your unique personality is at the heart of what we believe in.   The last year and indeed the last 5/6 years have passed in a whirlwind and I hope you enjoyed the fun of looking at your little innocent faces in your 1st year photos that Nicola put up for you. My hope is that through the time you have spent with us in FCJ you have learned to believe in yourself, you have realised that you can do well when you set your mind to it and that we value and support each one of your efforts to succeed. It has, at times, seemed like a long and yet a very short journey that has led you to this great day.    For two students in particular it has been an extras special journey in that they have been together since they were placed in the same class in Junior Infants in St. Aidan’s Primary school in Enniscorthy, which is not one of our catchment schools and therefore makes it extra special that they have been placed in the same class in primary and then with us in secondary. Take a bow Justine Murphy and James Manning.   I have enjoyed your good humour (most of the time) but I must say, Conor Cummins, that it was pushing the boundaries of humour a little to suggest in one of our lunch-time conversations  recently that I was born in the 1930s!!!   Poor John Power tried to rescue the situation by saying late 40s (meaning my age), but which I misunderstood to mean the 1940s!! I am not the better of it yet!!   I was delighted to see you cost Mrs. Kelly a fortune in Evening Study with prizes for full attendance being awarded to eight students – the record last year was five so well done.   I wish each of you the very best as you leave us. I hope you will always know what it is to be a faithful     companion to others on that journey and that with courage and with confidence you will always walk tall and aspire to be the very best.

….. Next I want to thank on your behalf all the staff and in particular your Form Teachers and Dean of Year, Ms. O’Connor, for all they have done for you and for the school. Their hard work, commitment and concern are what make the difference to your school experience.

form teachersMr. John O’Neill, Ms. Caitriona Caulfield, Ms. Pauline Wheeler (Victoire VI), Ms. Noelle Devlin (Padraig VI), Mr. Dale Hennessy (Bríd VI), Ms. Stephanie O’Dwyer (Colm VI), Ms. Kay O’Connor (6th Year Dean) & Ms. Simone O’Neill (Aidan VI)

I now call on the Form Teacher from each class to assist me as we call forward the students from each class group to be presented with your  Graduation Certificates …..

….. I would like to thank the Senior  Prefects, and in particular the Head Girl and Head Boy and the Meitheal Leaders for their leadership shown in the school.   I would like to invite the Meitheal Leaders to come forward to the altar to be presented with a token of our gratitude for being kind and faithful companions to our first years:   Tomek Bialko, Sholah Cowman, Annie Doyle, Aoife Doye, Rian English-Adams, Eva Kavanagh, Liz Kavanagh, Roisin Kelly, Anna Kinsella, Bernadette Lambert, Hugh McInerney, James Manning, Bill Milne, Chloe Moulds, Clodagh Murphy, Aisling Power, Peter O’Toole, Dylan Raleigh & Shay Wakerly.

I now call on the Senior Prefects to come forward for a presentation in gratitude for your service to our school:   Diarmuid Crean, Edel Crean, Roisin Kelly, George Leech, Hugh McInerny, Clodagh Murphy, Caoimhe Redmond & Aaron Rooney.  And finally the Head Boy, Dylan Raleigh and Head Girl, Leah Maher.   

I now call on the Head Girl and Head Boy to address you. . . . . Please see their speech in the school Newsletter.

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FCJ Secondary School,
Co. Wexford
Tel: (+353)53-9377308
App: FCJ Bunclody