A CORK national school received a special visitor last Friday morning when Seán Kelly who has been a member of the European Parliament for the South constituency since 2009 visited as part of the school’s celebration of Europe Day.
The Fine Gael MEP presented the pupils of Gaelscoil an Chaisleáin with the Blue Star Award after they carried out a series of initiatives in conjunction with Europe Day.
The Blue Star Programme teaches primary school pupils about European cultures and the European Union through creative activities and projects which complement the national primary curriculum.
Over the past few months, the Gaelscoil an Chaisleáin students have been working diligently on projects in relation to the history, cultures, and institutions of the countries in the European Union.
The third- and fourth-class pupils also learned French on a weekly basis over an eight-week period as part of the Say Yes to Languages programme.
The Blue Star Programme ensures that Irish pupils are engaged on European issues, and it helps to foster an understanding of the European Union.
Mr Kelly also presented each student with wildflower seeds as part of the Bee Better campaign and in preparation for International Bee Day on Saturday, May 20.
Leonard Ó Conchúir who is a teacher in the school said the visit from the experienced politician went great.
“It was a very successful day. It is important to celebrate landmark days. Mr Kelly landed, and we had a guard of honour at the gate for him. We had two children Lily Smyth and Jessica Wynne welcome him. The chairperson of the board of management Máire Uí Dhonnabháin welcomed him with a speech.
After Mr Kelly made a speech, he fielded a variety of questions from the students the primary school teacher said. “Sean gave a speech outlining what he does in the European Parliament and what his job entails. He also took a couple of questions from the pupils.
"These ranged from how often he attends the European Parliament and why he felt it was so important to open Croke Park to other sports during his time as the president of the GAA? They were very good questions. They learnt a lot about the day-to-day workings of the European Union.”
"The students also showed the MEP the Europe themed projects they had been working on in recent weeks said their teacher. “The students were also working on Europe themed projects in recent weeks which they showed to Seán Kelly.
"The projects contained details on the various countries in the EU. He was impressed by the quality of the projects, and he gave them more information on the various European countries.”
“We have a massive school community,” said Mr Ó Conchúir about the co-educational primary school which was established in August 2017. “We have pupils from junior infants to fourth class. We will have fifth class next year. The school is flying it. Numbers are very strong. Ballincollig is thriving and the school is excelling. We have fantastic staff members. The parents association are great to work with and are very supportive.
“There is growing demand for Irish schools throughout the country which is great to see. It is important to promote the language. I am from Ballingeary and it is great to see the love of Irish filter out throughout the county,” he added.