UKRAINIAN students in Coláiste Éamann Rís thanked the Taoiseach Micheál Martin for his support of their homeland during his tour of the Cork City secondary school on Friday morning.
The Taoiseach was warmly greeted by the 20 Ukrainian pupils who are currently attending Coláiste Éamann Rís.
School principal Aaron Wolfe said the students thanked the Taoiseach for the “leadership” role he has played in aid of their war-torn country.
“They are very grateful,” he said. “They wanted to thank the Taoiseach. It was very symbolic.”
The secondary school principal said the Ukrainian students have settled in very well in their new surroundings, but he acknowledged that they would rather be at home if the circumstances were different.
“We have 20 Ukrainian students at the moment,” said Mr Wolfe.
“They have settled in very well, but obviously they want to go home. They want to go back to Ukraine. They are fantastic students. They are great for our school as well, as they are showing our students the reality of war in a country. Their experience has been brutal.
“We need to do more to help people from this war-torn country. They have lost everything.
“They don’t want to be here. They left everything behind. They would rather be back home with their grandparents and their pets.”
Mr Wolfe also said Coláiste Éamann Rís will be opening a new ASD unit next September, which underlines their claims to be a fully inclusive school.
“We already run four ASD units, and next year we will be moving to five ASD units,” he said.
“This will mean another six student places, and it also means that we will be offering more ASD places than any other school in Cork City.
“We were also the first school in Cork to open an ASD unit. It is brilliant news for any parent with a child who has autism, as the spaces aren’t out there.
“We are really meeting the need. We are a truly inclusive school.”
Following yesterday’s visit to the school by the Taoiseach, the principal said: “It was a very successful morning.
“The Taoiseach spoke about his childhood, and he recalled that he used to sneak in and play on the school pitch.
“He congratulated the school for its achievements in the last decade.
“We thanked him for his support in campaigning against three of our students being deported in 2020.
“We also thanked him for his work in getting the extension for our school approved and for getting us approved for a sports capital grant.
“He got a tour of the school. We showed him the plans for the extension.
“The design team has submitted the plans. We are master planning for a school gym.
“We are hopeful we will secure funding for a big sports hall.
“He also visited Bro’s Club, which is the youth club run by Brother Cusack, a former principal of Sullivan’s Quay. The club is 41 years old.”
Some 310 students applied to start in the co-educational school last September. Mr Wolfe said the increase in numbers is testament to the care the students get in the school.
“Traditionally, we used to attract 30 to 40 first-year students,” he said.
“This year, 310 students applied for the first year. We took in 120.
“Going co-educational has been successful, but we already had a number of boys up, which is very important.
“The number of students seeking to join the school is testament to the care the teachers here give. We have teaching and learning right.”