'We are looking forward to a new era': Cork schools prepare for amalgamation in September 

'We are looking forward to a new era': Cork schools prepare for amalgamation in September 

Junior infants class pupils celebrating the history of Sunday's Well Girls' N.S., Cork, before the amalgamation.

SEPTEMBER 2021 will see the amalgamation of Sunday’s Well Girls’ and Boys’ national schools, under the new name of Strawberry Hill.

Sunday’s Well GNS was one of the first national schools to be built in Cork when it was established in 1835. 

Cousins Robyn Crowley (left) and Isabelle McCoy celebrating the history of Sunday's Well Girls' N.S., Cork, before the amalgamation.
Cousins Robyn Crowley (left) and Isabelle McCoy celebrating the history of Sunday's Well Girls' N.S., Cork, before the amalgamation.

Following 186 years of distinguished service in the local community, the school will close its doors for the last time on Wednesday, June 30.

Liz Horgan, who is currently principal of Sunday's Well GNS will be the new principal of Strawberry Hill NS, while Martina Barry will be the deputy principal.

“We are all feeling very positive and looking to the future. We have had a great past and we are looking forward to a fantastic future. The school has a long and fantastic history. We are looking forward to a progression,” Ms Horgan said.

Deputy Principal of Sunday's Well GNS, Marella O’Sullivan said the amalgamation between the girls’ and boys’ schools will ‘serve the community’ even better. 

“This amalgamation will serve the community even better because mixed schools are the growing trend and all the students are from the same families. It is good that they will be educated side by side together. It is a very positive step. There is great excitement.

Nell O'Brien (left) and Grace Ugbelase at the fairy tree.
Nell O'Brien (left) and Grace Ugbelase at the fairy tree.

“The whole school will have about 370 pupils. It is a natural process in the development of our school provision. It is a reflection of real life. They can learn, work and play together. There is a great cooperative spirit around. All staff have been so co-operative and we are all ready for a new beginning,” she added.

Emily Murphy who is on the management team praised the cooperation from all the various stakeholders who have assisted in making the amalgamation come to fruition.

Liz Horgan, principal, celebrating the history of Sunday's Well Girls' N.S., Cork, before the amalgamation.
Liz Horgan, principal, celebrating the history of Sunday's Well Girls' N.S., Cork, before the amalgamation.

“There is a great spirit of co-operation. The parents have been a great help. They are actively involved in all of the committees that we would have with the opening of a new school from designing a new crest, to choosing the lunches and a new uniform. They have been so helpful. A lot of work goes into a successful amalgamation. It has been in the mix for a few years.

Sisters Marella O'Sullivan, deputy principal, (left) who is retiring as a teacher in the school since 1981, and Emily Murphy, also a teacher in the school.
Sisters Marella O'Sullivan, deputy principal, (left) who is retiring as a teacher in the school since 1981, and Emily Murphy, also a teacher in the school.

“Our function is to make it a seamless transition for the students so that it will be very natural. It will be very family-friendly. The parents will be dropping their children off at the same school in the same uniform. They will know the teachers. We will be on the same campus and using the same facilities. It just makes sense in the current climate where all new schools that are being built are all mixed schools,” she added.

Julie Murphy is also on the management team. 

She said the name Strawberry Hill was arrived at with great unity. 

“That name was brought about by a committee of parents, teachers, and the original interim management committee for the amalgamation of the schools. We had lengthy meetings and the name was a clear winner. That cooperative spirit permeated from there. We had community members involved in the choosing of the name because we would have a strong element of community members on the boards of management of the respective schools. It was an opportunity for history to come full circle. We provided a forum for everybody to have a voice,” she said.

Le Chéile pupils (from left) Killian McSweeney O'Donovan, Heidi Cotter, Luke Sheehan and Jack Sheehan.
Le Chéile pupils (from left) Killian McSweeney O'Donovan, Heidi Cotter, Luke Sheehan and Jack Sheehan.

Strawberry Hill will open for the new academic year on Tuesday, August 31. Liz is looking forward to a ‘new era’.

“There are great facilities in the school. We have a beautiful and leafy site at the back of the school and a sensory garden. We have beautiful views and lots of space for the children to play.

Pupils of one of the first classes. 
Pupils of one of the first classes. 

“We are looking forward to a new era. It is an exciting time. There will be no sense of sadness. There is just a sense of satisfaction that we got this over the line and there is such a positive attitude towards the amalgamation. We will have the fantastic expertise of both schools coming together to provide even better education,” she added.

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