Dunamase College, a multidenominational, bilingual secondary school in Portlaoise, is launching an online well-being week from today to support students who cannot come to school while the country comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Dunamase College, which has an Irish language stream and an English language stream, learning through technology is something they do everyday.
All students have iPads and the staff always provide the curriculum through a virtual learning environment. Homework is set and gathered digitally, so the closure of the school has been a continuation of this, with very little disruption.
The Principal, Aoife Elster says: “As our digital school set up is operating as usual we feel that the ‘hard’ curriculum is well taken care of by our familiar use of technology.
“We have been keeping in touch with the school community online. As a school we pride ourselves on our work in student well being.
“We feel the students are missing out on the social and caring benefits of the school community. The students are missing their friends.
“They are also missing the tutor time in the morning, the pastoral care in school and the lunchtime activities and clubs that make up a vital part of school life.”
In recognition of the high levels of stress in some households at the moment, the school is anxious to try to alleviate as much stress as it can within the school community.
Alison Bennett, the school Guidance Counsellor says: “Our whole school guidance approach is at the heart of every interaction in the school.
“During this unique time, while we are apart, the value of human connection is more important than ever for our school community and the community at large. During this coming week, the value of human connection for our physical and mental health will be championed.”
The school is planning a week of well being activities. There will be activities to involve all members of the school community, competitions, and some fun.
The staff have been meeting online to design activities relating to each of their subjects for each day. The Parents Council and the Student Council have both made contributions to the plans for this week.
Along with the daily well being activities the school is running two competitions for the students to keep their focus on the future.
Design a New Dunamase
A centrepiece of the week is the importance of looking to the future. In a year or two, this time will be a memory and Dunamase College will be moving into a new building on the Timahoe Road in Portlaoise.
As part of Well Being Week the school will be holding a competition for students called Design a New Dunamase.
The students will have access to the Minecraft app on their ipads but can also work on pen and paper. They will be given a design brief and have until April 30th to complete their applications.
The school is hoping that this is a way for students to engage and contribute to the new school and to continue to feel a connection with the school community as a whole.
Create a Classic
An additional competition is also being held as part of the design brief. This is loosely based on the percent for art scheme. A new public building such as Dunamase College will have a grant of up to €65000 to spend on an artwork / composition.
The school would like our more creative students to enter this competition as well, with a piece of original artwork,music or poetry.
The school will be appointing judging panels shortly for both competitions.