On Thursday the young gentlemen of Rhetoric 2023 tucked themselves into the front rows of the Boys’ Chapel – the 204th Elements class to enter the school in this, our third, century. Under the benevolent, watchful eye of Mr Frank Kelly, Head of Boarding (and Master of Ceremonies), they looked around in awe and excitement as the historic building was filled with nigh on 450 students from Elements to Rhetoric, the majority returning for another academic year, while some 40 more new arrivals up the school shared the Elements Boys’ sense of expectation.
When the students had welcomed the teaching staff and settled themselves the Rector (and eternal Clongownian), Fr Michael Sheil began the first School Assembly of the year with an opening prayer and asked us to remember former Prefect, Rector and Clongowes’ first Headmaster, Fr Paddy Crowe, who passed away during the summer in Cherryfield Lodge.
The newly minted School Captain, Luke MacQuillan then took to the podium and welcomed all the students, new and old as well as the incoming members of staff. He outlined the various challenges that would face the pupils at different stages of their journeys, be they the newly arrived Elements, those about to embark on Transition Year or his peers in Rhetoric, who are commencing their last lap in Clongowes.
Consideration, respect and co-operation
Luke gave way to the Headmaster, Mr Chris Lumb, who welcomed back students and staff alike after the lengthy summer vacation. Mr Lumb paid tribute to the catering, grounds and maintenance teams, who had a busy summer hosting the many groups that used the facilities over the summer. He thanked the Syntax boys and staff involved in the Duck Push, which raised more than €45,000 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Mr Tom Carroll and the boys, who ran the Special Children’s Holiday.
Observing that there were over 100 new starters in the school, the Headmaster said that we all have a responsibility to welcome the newcomers into the Clongowes family. Mr Lumb went on to thank the new House Leaders for their assistance with helping to settle the new Elements boys and then welcomed the seven new members of staff, who have joined us this year.
The Headmaster declared himself delighted with the exceptional Leaving Cert results in what was a bumper year for the school. The grades were the best ever achieved in Clongowes’ history with an average of 454 points. Some 31 achieved over 500 points, 18 boys scored over 550 while 6 topped the 600 mark. Two students achieved the maximum 625 points with Conor Galvin, former School Captain, scoring an impressive 8 H1 grades, one of only 13 students in the country to achieve such results.
Mr Lumb then reminded us that we are a vibrant community and that ‘the way in which we all aspire to live and learn alongside one another on a daily basis is governed by our Jesuit ethos’. He spoke of the quality of the personal relationships between students and staff alike and the importance of consideration, respect and co-operation. He closed by enjoining the boys to make most of every opportunity to reach their full potential, to develop their talents to the full and then challenged them to be the very best they can be in the year that lies ahead.
Declan O’Keeffe, Head of Communications