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May 2023: New Special Education building unit announced by Minister for Education Norma Foley

March 2023: Wow! What just Happened

Wow! What just happened? is a collection of reflections, artwork, photographs and poetry that capture the student experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The book represents the lived experiences of students of Mercy Mounthawk. Students reflect on the ups and downs of school closures, isolation from families and friends, and how the pandemic has changed their lives. The book gives society an alternative perspective of the pandemic through teenage eyes. It is a celebration of the resilience of students, who faced numerous twists and turns in an unprecedented period in their lives. It provides a space for the reader to reflect on their own experiences. It gives the reader an opportunity to empathise with other perspectives of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Click the link here to order your copy. All proceeds will be invested back into the school’s wellbeing programme.

March 2023: Phone Free school – ‘YONDR’

One of the initiatives we have already implemented in response to the impact of social media on students is the introduction of Yondr pouches for phones during the school day. This project had a long genesis, reflecting the ongoing concerns of parents and teachers around the increasing dependence and focus by students on media and the negative impacts reported in research such as the ‘My World Survey 2’ (2019).The National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland (by UCD School of Psychology and Jigsaw) reported a significant relationship between time spent online and higher levels of depression and anxiety and lower levels of self-esteem, which reflects the increased anxiety levels reported in our own Covid survey.

We are very satisfied with the levels of buy-in by our students into the new system introduced in March this year and we will be investigating the impact of strengthening the ‘Phone free’ environment of the school on the wellbeing, social engagement and class focus of students in the coming year.

Developments pre 2023

Library Revamp and Launch

Albert Einstein once declared, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” After nearly a year of planning by a dedicated library committee, Mercy Mounthawk recently cut the ribbon of its newly renovated school library. Having decided to rejuvenate what had become a redundant space, students were asked their opinions about what they wanted their library to be. They created mood-boards, offered lists of titles and authors they would like stocked on the shelves and even suggested a colour palette for its walls. Inspired by their enthusiasm, the committee set about establishing a plan; they redesigned the layout, updated the shelves with modern books, and ordered bespoke contemporary furniture to better meet the needs of modern-day students.

The result has been transformational: an inviting library with a spacious open layout providing greater access to books. Bespoke furniture has been a key feature of the design, combining the school’s signature teal colour with a modern pop of lime green in bean bags and modular items of furniture positioned throughout. The seating plan has been deliberately designed to be both relaxed and formal in tone, offering students a choice based on their preference while reading. Custom-made tables have been specifically chosen to encourage group work, creating a flexible space which allows for debating club, individual study and reading. Strategic placing of bookshelves and other furniture gives the space a more accessible appeal making it an altogether more inviting space. One of the highlights of the newly renovated library has been the artistic pieces designed and created by the Transition Year students. They feature key characters from wellknown works of literature.

The opening was officiated by poet and former Mounthawk teacher, Lola Scollard, and attended by staff, students, members of the Board of Management and representatives from the Parents’ Council. It took place to coincide with English Week and the annual Mounthawk character costume day. Indeed, there was something quite fitting in students dressed as Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and Harry Potter meandering their way through the library doors. Without doubt, the Mercy Mounthawk community will from now on have no problem in living out Albert Einstein’s inspirational words as we look forward to hours of enjoyment in our newly renovated library.

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