Home News Community Portlaoise College’s Student Council conference ‘fosters sense of belonging’

Portlaoise College’s Student Council conference ‘fosters sense of belonging’

Portlaoise College’s Student Council hosted an innovative conference on Thursday, March 21, centred around the theme of belonging.

The event, organised by the school’s Student Council alongside their teachers Ms. Lawlor, Ms. Heath, Mr. Hogan, and Ms. Egan, aimed at discussing the sense of community and inclusivity among the school community.

At the beginning of the night, participants were asked to think about the words that came to mind for them when they thought about belonging.

The conference featured a lineup of distinguished speakers who shared insights on the importance of belonging.

Among them were teachers, guidance counsellors, students, and community leaders, including Georgi Phipps from the Parent’s Council, Damien Bowe representing the Board of Management, and Linda Tynan, Director of Schools from LOETB.

Kicking off the evening was a vibrant choral performance by the school’s Choir, under the guidance of Ms. Spencer, setting the tone for the event.

Mr. Maher, serving as the emcee, skillfully guided the audience through the proceedings, ensuring a seamless flow of discussions and presentations, with a few witty comments thrown in to lighten the mood.

Ms. Lawlor, one of the key organisers of the conference, emphasised the significance of the event.

She said: “Belonging is fundamental to a student’s academic and personal growth.

“Our aim with this conference was to foster a culture of inclusivity and support within our school community, ensuring that every student feels valued and accepted.”

Throughout the evening, attendees were treated to thought-provoking discussions and inspiring anecdotes, all centred around the theme of belonging.

Students from across the year groups spoke of what, for them, gave them this sense of belonging. Ranging from debating and the Homeroom to Green Schools and Volleyball, a variety of activities and spaces in school brought this sense of community.

Students remarked that at the base of all of them were teachers who wanted the best for their students and wanted to provide a space for them to achieve.

Mr Noel Daly, the Principal of Portlaoise College, echoed Ms Lawlor’s sentiments, highlighting the importance of initiatives that promote a sense of belonging among students.

He said: “At Portlaoise College, we believe that every student deserves to feel like they belong.

“Events like this conference reaffirm our commitment to creating an environment where students can thrive both academically and socially.”

That opening question about belonging concluded with a mentimeter.

The most common word highlighted was ‘Friendship’ amongst those gathered.

Mr Daly concluded that schools are at their heart, a community of people who want to belong and at Portlaoise College they have found that place.

As Portlaoise College continues to prioritise initiatives that promote inclusivity and support, events like the Student Council Conference serve as an example of Student Voice and Leadership in the school.

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