The following is an article from the Liffey Champion, written by Kirstin Campbell.
Nineteen students from Confey College in Leixlip were awarded with their Bronze Gaisce award medals on Tuesday evening (18th November). The students received The President’s Award for their commendable involvement in their communities in a project which they undertook most for most of their Transition Year. Sixty students endeavoured to achieve the Gaisce award in Confey College in Riverforest in Leixlip last year, with less than 20 of these seeing it through to the end.
Grainne O’Connor, the President’s Award Leader (PAL) for the community school, believes that the students who have completed the award have shown themselves to be promising citizens in the community. “Not everybody finishes the award, because it takes consistency, it takes dedication, and it takes time,” she said. “So the students that are here tonight who have achieved the award have pushed themselves further than the other students who didn’t get it. They’re the future leaders as far as I’m concerned. They’re willing to go the extra mile. “It’s important to do great things,” Grainne said in her speech to students last Tuesday. “But it’s more important to do good things.”
Leixlip Olympian David McCarthy, who won a bronze medal for sprinting in the World Championships in 2004, presented the awards to the students. “I know all the hard work you have to put in, because I managed to get one of these back in 1999,” he said. “I learned from the Gaisce award that if you set yourself a target and work really hard towards that goal, you can achieve it.”
The Gaisce President’s Award is one of the most prestigious and respected awards for young people. The personal challenge involves four sections; community involvement, personal skills, physical activity, and an adventure journey.
The Confey College students spent 13 weeks working on the skills aspect of the award, playing a sport and working in a voluntary capacity, and then focused on one of these elements for a further 13 weeks. Students took part in sports such as camogie, tennis, basketball, and swimming. They took on new skills such as piano, acting, self-defence, debating, guitar, life-saving, and sign-language. The Gaisce award also encouraged students to engage with their local community in a voluntary capacity, and many students got involved with the Leixlip Arch Club, reading with students in the local primary school, working in the local charity shop, spending time with senior citizens in the Ryevale Nursing Home, and coaching underage teams in a range of sports. The final element of the award is the adventure challenge, which saw the Leixlip students hike 25 kilometres through County Mayo.
TY co-ordinator Rosaleen Power believes that the most important aspect of the award is the involvement in the local area. “It builds confidence, it builds the students’ skillset, and it brings them into their community,” she said. “I think that’s what’s most important. We’re a community school but we’re a very different community school in that we’re two communities, we’re Lucan, we’re Leixlip, and we’re a bit of Celbridge.”
Mary Cullen, Deputy Principal believes that the award encourages students to recognise their potential as individuals, active citizens and future leaders. “The Gaisce award encourages students to ‘Bain Amach é,’ meaning ‘Go Discover.’ The students here tonight have shown great determination, great courage, and great consistency over this past year,” the Deputy Principal said.
Five students from Confey College have recently won scholarships to China from UCC for their standard of Mandarin Chinese. “We’re the only school in the country doing Mandarin Chinese for Junior Cert, and five of our students are now going to China over Christmas,” said Ms Power.