It is high summer here in Clongowes: sunlight streams through the windows and the classrooms lie silent. Yet this silence masks the activity taking place in the examination centres where the boys of Rhetoric and Grammar are tackling the Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations. For the sixth year boys this rite of passage is their last action in the school (although hopefully not their last presence), while the third years will return in the autumn to enter Transition Year after which they in turn will become senior cycle students. Meanwhile their predecessors in that year of transition are setting out this week on the annual Duck Push, the final event in a year of raising money for Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Finally, in July, students from Poetry will welcome some very special visitors to Clongowes to take part in the annual and very rewarding Special Children’s’ Holiday.
Such is the nature of life in Clongowes as it enters its 200th academic year and it was ever thus. The school was founded in 1814 to provide excellence in education and leaders in society, and the quality of the Rhetoric boys who are about to leave is testament to its on-going success. Validation is also to be found in the excellent Whole School Evaluation / Management for Leadership and Learning report, which has recently been issued by the Department of Education and Skills. The report will be available presently on the school website but in the meantime may be downloaded from the DES at: http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Whole-School-Evaluation-Reports-List/.
The continued success of the school will be commemorated in many ways during a year of Bicentenary Celebrations, which will begin on Union Day 2014 (Sunday 25th). Prior to that we will mark March 4th, the day on which Fr Peter Kenney took possession of Castle Browne, April 5th, when Clongowes was blessed and dedicated to St Aloysius Gonzaga and May 18th, when the first pupil, James McLornan of Dublin was enrolled. Peter Gray (OC’73), President of the Union, will preside over the early events before passing the flame to his successor, John Bruton (OC ’65) next Union Day.
On Friday 24th May the Board of Management appointed Mr Martin Wallace as Assistant Headmaster of Clongowes to succeed Mr Martin Nugent, who will step down from the post on August 31st after 13 years. Mr Nugent is taking well-earned retirement after a teaching career of 40 years, the last 38 of which were spent in Clongowes. Martin Wallace joined the academic staff in 1979 and has been a stalwart of the English and Latin departments ever since. In recent years he has been instrumental in the success of the Alberto Hurtado Programme (bursary fund) and has contributed to many other areas of school life including drama, soccer and chess, while also serving as Academic Year Head in the Higher Line.
The Jack Kavanagh Trust was set up in March 2013 to raise funds for Jack (OC’11), who in August 2012, at the age of 20, broke his neck simply diving into a wave on a beach. He suffered a C4/C5 spinal injury, which means that he has no feeling below his upper chest, has limited use of his arms, and no use of his hands or fingers. No insurance will pay for the care Jack will need in the years ahead, but he is determined to create as normal a life for himself as he can. While we remember Jack in our thoughts and prayers we can also make a tangible contribution by visiting the trust website: http://www.mycharity.ie/charity/jackkavanaghtrust/.
As we head into what is finally beginning to look like summer we ask for your prayers for the pupils and staff in our care as well as those who are about to depart. We invoke God’s blessing on the school, hope that all of you have a wonderful summer and look forward continuing the good work when we reconvene at the end of August.
Fr Leonard Moloney, SJ