THE sports hall at St Paul's Special School in Montenotte was transformed into a spectacular sight last Friday, as the school held a fundraiser tea party.
The event organised to raise funds for a much-needed school bus, was well supported by members of An Garda Síochána, paramedics at the National Ambulance Service, local politicians, parents and friends.
Speaking toabout the importance of a school bus, Principal Anne Hartnett explained that school excursions are a vital part of the children's learning.
"A key part of the educational development of our students is some of the skills they learn when they are outside, interacting with other members of the local community.
"They learn skills like turn-taking and social interactions. Some of our students have limited mobility, so a school bus is vital to take us from A-B," she said.
Ms Hartnett explained that just before Christmas, their two school busses failed their CRVT tests and were deemed unroadworthy.
They have been without a vehicle since and the impact has been profound.
"This was and continues to be a devastating blow for our students.
"A school bus is so expensive to buy, €75,000 approximately, particularly as it must be wheelchair accessible," she said.
Since December St Paul's School have been working hard to reach the €75,000 target.
"The tea party raised €7,676 and through our other fundraising endeavours, we are now halfway toward our target which means we can go ahead and order the 16 seater bus as it needs to be ordered four to six months in advance.
"The 16 seater is the perfect size as we usually have 6-8 students heading out at a given time, accompanied by 3-5 staff.
"A few staff members, including myself, have the PCV DI bus licence, so we are legally covered to drive the bus," she explained.
Ms Hartnett also expressed her gratitude to the local businesses who supported the tea party last Friday, by donating raffle prizes and supplying refreshments.
St Paul’s School Montenotte caters for 97 students with moderate, severe or profound intellectual disabilities. The boys and girls range in age from age 4 -18 years of age.