THERE was great excitement in Scoil Mhuire Ballincollig this week as Irish Olympian and former student Aoife Cooke raised the school's Active School Flag and the Health Promoting School Flag.
The Ballincollig national school retained their Active School Flag status after successfully completing a series of tasks, while they were awarded the Health Promoting Schools Flag for the first time in their history.
SEN teacher Liz Ní Shiadhail said the all-girls national school engaged in a number of activities and initiatives to ensure they were awarded the two prestigious flags.
“It was the second time we won the Active School Flag. You have to go through a lot of steps and build a portfolio of activities throughout the year. A number of talks were held on different topics. We have an active school committee that was created two years ago. We put it in the hands of the kids in the school to promote the various activities.
“We won the Health Promoting School Flag last year but due to Covid-19 we weren’t presented with the flag. The school committee took on a few more girls and they promoted the advantages of healthy eating and mindfulness. It was great to promote it and get the students to talk in more detail about it. We are very enthusiastic and determined to keep both initiatives going. We would have hung up positive quotes and posters around the school. It was good to link in healthy eating and exercise. As well as PE lessons, the teachers get the pupils to do movement breaks. Exercise is so vital. It is good for the mind and the body. It is important to get them into a routine as young as possible and get them doing it naturally,” she added.
“It takes a whole school effort to accomplish gaining the Active Flag and Health Promoting School Flag so it is always a proud moment to acknowledge it altogether. It was a great day. There was so much excitement. The students were so pleased to meet Aoife Cooke and they loved their ice-cream treats afterwards,” she said.
Ms Ní Shiadhail said the presence of local hero and former pupil Aoife Cooke created huge excitement for the students.
The marathon runner recently secured her place at this year’s Olympic Games.
Her inspirational words ‘resonated’ with the students, the teacher said.
“Aoife Cooke gave great encouragement to the girls. She stressed the importance of staying focused and spoke about how vital it is to keep active. She emphasised the need for the students to set goals, but not to worry too much about final placings. She concluded her speech with a prediction that she won’t be the last from the school to reach the Olympic Games. Hearing those words was inspirational for the students.
“She spoke so fondly of her memories of the school. The girls were very impressed. They could make the connection. The school is so proud of her. Her success really resonated with the girls as she is a past pupil. They could identify with her,” she added.
There are currently over 400 students in Scoil Mhuire Ballincollig.
Ms Ní Shiadhail praised the great ‘school culture’ which exists in the Ballincollig primary school.
“There is a great atmosphere, spirit, and unity in the school. There is also a great community within the school that is so supportive. There is a great school culture and environment.”