BY JACKIE KEOGH
‘THE construction of Skibbereen Community School presents a unique opportunity to build on the combined histories and traditions of Mercy Heights Secondary School, St Fachtna’s de la Salle and Rossa College,’ said John Fitzgibbons, the education officer at the Cork Education and Training Board, last week.
He added that these combined histories totalled more than 420 years of combined service to the young people of Skibbereen and the wider community of West Cork.
Mr Fitzgibbons was speaking in Skibbereen last Thursday, February 12th, during a visit by the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan TD, to turn the first sod at the site for the new €14m school.
According to Mr Fitzgibbons, the creation of a new school – officially named Skibbereen Community School – has come about thanks to the co-operation of the Cork Education and Training Board, CEIST on behalf of the Mercy Order, and the Diocese of Cork and Ross, but it also represents the ‘significant effort, collaboration, and the ongoing efforts’ of a whole range of people – including the steering committee, the teaching staff, parents and students – who have worked ‘to support and encourage the growth of this new entity, so that it not only reflects on, but develops, these traditions.’
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the investment would ensure that West Cork would be served with ‘a state-of-the-art learning facility that will benefit the region for generations to come.’
The proud traditions of each of the schools was also something that Bishop John Buckley commented on.
He said past pupils of Mercy Heights Secondary School, St Fachtna’s de la Salle and Rossa College had received high academic distinctions in many walks of life; some indeed dedicated themselves to the priesthood at home and abroad; and others excelled at sport.
‘I have,’ he said, ‘often visited all three schools in Skibbereen and I know that these schools are very much aware that there is more to education than just the imparting of knowledge only to young people, that education was not inoculation, that it is concerned with preparing and guiding and influencing young people in every way.
‘I know, too, that sport has been a very important part of the curriculum in these schools. Sport is a vital ingredient in the formation of young people and it is the great antidote in resisting the pressures to less desirable activities.’
After blessing the site of the new school, Bishop Buckley said: ‘I am certain that this historic day will provide great joy for the people of Skibbereen.’
The West Cork native added that the future of young people ‘lies in the hands of those who can provide them with reasons for living and reasons for hoping.’