Published – East Cork Journal – Thursday, February 14th 2008.
Interview with Pat Fitzgerald, Midleton CBS.
This week I met with Principal Pat Fitzgerald to talk about CBS Primary School in Midleton. The current school building was built back in 1967 and before this the school was situated across the road where it was first established over 100 years ago.Originally the school was a Christian Brothers school but over ten years ago it was taken over by a lay Principal and has been managed like this ever since.
The all boys’ school has a current enrolement number of 329 students. The children travel from all parts of the world. While of course many of the students come from the Midleton area there are also children from 18 different nationalities attending the school. Children come from Thailand, Poland, Nigeria, Algeria, Czech Republic, India and so on. The list is endless but there is no doubt that there is a good global representation in the school. Just last week 2 children joined the school after moving from the Ukraine.
There are 17 teachers in the school. The school is lucky to have three special needs assistants and 2 language support teachers. The language support teachers help children who may need some extra help with understanding the English Language. These teachers are especially helpful to the children who have moved from other countries. A third language support teacher is expected to start teaching at the school in the coming weeks.
Many extra-curricular activities take place in the school. A drama club is held one afternoon a week and both indoor hurling and football are also taught after school.
Within the school a lot of different activities take place. Irish dancing lessons are held every week and the children are encouraged to take part. The tin whistle is also taught in many of the classes. While at the moment the school doesn’t offer any foreign languages, Principal Pat Fitzgerald says that in the past he has taught Italian and he hopes that in the near future it will be possible to organise classes again.
Swimming lessons are also organised for children in 4th, 5th and 6th class. The lessons take place over 6 weeks in Youghal and this gives the children an opportunity to learn how to swim in these few years. Principal Pat Fitzgerald places an emphasis on these lessons
“Every child gets involved in swimming and it’s a life skill”.
The school also has a basketball court which is used a lot during the summer months. Children are given the opportunity to take part in a soccer league each year and can also take part in the Sciath na Scol and Cork City Sports.
Many of the children are involved in sporting clubs and the GAA. Within the school however there is an emphasis on involving the kids in fun orientated activities so that they can interact with each other and get exercise. As Principal Fitzgerald comments
“Competitive sports are fine but I am now trying to focus more on getting kids involved”.
Of course like many schools in the area the CBS places an emphasis on healthy eating. Just last week the kids began the Food Dudes program which encourages them to eat more fruit and vegetables. This program has been a great success in the past and the children are lucky to be able to learn the right foods to eat when they are young. After the Food Dudes program finishes the teachers will encourage the children to continue eating healthy food.
Students have also recently completed the MS Readathon. This has taken place in the school every year for over ten years and this year the kids raised a grand total of €5283. This is obviously a great achievement for the students.
CBS Principal Pat Fitzgerald is grateful that the school has a very good Parents Council that organise all the fundraising for the school. They have funded a lot of the remedial needs for the school. Since September every classroom has received a new whiteboard from this fundraising. Principal Fitzgerald comments that having the Parents Council means that they can focus on teaching as all the fundraising is all taken care of.
“They are doing tremendous work for the school; we are spoiled because we do not have to think about fundraising thanks to their efforts”.
The school has embarked on a new expansion program with the hope to build an extra four classrooms in the near future. These rooms will cater for the anticipated increase in enrolment numbers. Staff are also working consistently to upgrade IT facilities. There is currently a purpose built computer room and they are always upgrading the computers. Principal Fitzgerald is aware that in time he will have to look at the possibility of Interactive Whiteboards. He admits that in the coming years he can see the school heading in that direction.
Before leaving the school I was introduced to students involved in drama, hurling, computer classes, Irish dancing and swimming. All the kids seemed to be involved in one thing or another which really showed that the children are encouraged to take part in school activities.