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Prize Night 2014 - Principal's Address

14 May 2014

A chance encounter between a young priest and a zealous layman in Reims in France in 1679 led to the founding of an educational project which now operates on a worldwide basis. The layman, Adrien Nyel, who at that time was interested in setting up a school for poor boys in Reims, gladly welcomed theassistance of this educated, influential priest, John Baptist de La Salle. In this simple meeting, a unique Le Chéile congregation began. This congregation is known in Ireland as the De La Salle Brothers.

John Baptist was historically one of the greatest practical pioneers of education first in France and later on around the rest of the world. His imaginative ideas, the schools he founded and the reforms he made completely changed the educational system. For example, he was the first to introduce the concept of teaching in the student's native language, and not in Latin or Greek. He was also the first to provide training for his teachers in how to teach. He composed reading books, and wrote others for children, families and manuals for his teachers. 

John Baptist was canonised in 1900 and in 1950 was declared "Special Patron of all Christian educators". Many of John Baptist's ideas and values are still very much in evidence in the College today. Next Friday, we celebrate St La Salle's Day here in Churchtown. I feel certain that if John Baptist were to visit us he would be very impressed with this school. I think he would be very happy to witness the growth and development that has taken place here in Churchtown over the last 61 years. I think that he, and all the principals, teachers, parents and students can be justifiably proud of all the achievements and successes that our students have gained. The small personal successes achieved in mastering education or behavioural challenges, and the major successes achieved in education, sport and society, as witnessed by the range of trophies and awards on display here tonight. 

I pray that our College may remain; a place of learning and discovery; a place of hope and joy; a place of courage and confidence; a place of gratitude and generosity, a place of faith - rooted in love. 

I am delighted to announce that the College has been given permission (and funding) to replace the leaking flat roof on the building as part on the Summer Works Scheme 2014. This roof has caused us many problems over the last number of years and this replacement work will do much to improve the fabric of the building. Students and teachers will benefit greatly from this work for many years to come. 

Students - I congratulate you all tonight. As prize-winners you have worked hard and impressed your teachers and you should be justifiably proud of yourselves! However I am also aware that there are many other students in the College who have worked well but did not receive a prize. Our budget is limited, but we should acknowledge nonetheless the efforts of all. 

Education is a journey - not a destination! And there is still a long way for you to go! So don't rest on your laurels - push on - there is so much more excitement ahead! But you don't travel alone! Your parents and your teachers have been your guides, showing you the way, encouraging you when you are weary and losing heart, and providing you with direction and encouragement. 

Our prizes tonight are books, chosen by the students from a recommended reading list. This is part of our Literacy Strategy, a Department of Education and Skills initiative to encourage enhanced levels of literacy among young people. Despite the advances of the computer age and digital technology, literacy - the ability to read and write, the ability to use words correctly and to communicate precisely and succinctly - are skills of paramount importance. The more you read, the more you will develop these important attributes, which will travel with you and help you on your educational journey through life. I think John Baptist De La Salle would very much approve.

I want to commend the teachers in this school and publicly acknowledge the great contribution they have made and continue to make, despite the education cutbacks. You are very lucky to have such hard-working, dedicated and professional teachers here in De La Salle College. Individually they do so much to help you the students. Together they form a brilliant staff with great expertise, experience and energy. The care and attention that they have provided and continue to provide is truly astounding, and so much of this is done quietly behind the scenes. On your behalf I want to thank them for all their dedication and commitment. 

This is my last time to address you at Prize Night. As you may know I have decided to retire at the end on the school year after a 47 year association with the De La Salle schools in Churchtown - as student, rugby coach, teacher, Deputy Principal and Principal. I want to thank all of you, those here present tonight and those not with us: De La Salle Brothers, Le Chéile Schools Trust, Board of Management members, parents, teaching and non-teaching staff, past-pupils and students for all your help, assistance and support you have given to me over the years. I have a special place for all of you in my heart!

To all our students - enjoy the forthcoming summer holidays. Your prizes tonight - the books you have chosen - will provide you with enjoyment and enlightenment! I would encourage you to read as much as possible over the summer. 

Congratulations also to all our performers here tonight - those we have heard so far and those who have yet to perform. You have all been brilliant. Thank you for entertaining us. Thanks are also due to Mr Brian Wynn and Mr Gerry McCann who do so much work and provide so much encouragement for the musicians. The school band "Mustang Salle" were superb on the concert night - I am sure they will be equally brilliant here tonight!

I would like to thank all those who helped to organise tonight but especially to Ms Mary Sullivan who co-ordinates everybody and everything! I would also like to thank Mr Brendan Cryan our MC for the evening. 

Our Special Award winners are as follows:


                       Senior Captain                       Aaron Hickey

                       Junior Captain                       Fergus Balfe

                       U14 Captain                          Sean Saunders

                       U13 Captain                          Adam Nealon


                       Conor Martin Memorial Cup

                       Barry Murphy Memorial Cup

                       Trip to Paris


                       Under 14                               Eoin Fitzsimmons,   Asoo Azad

                       Under 16                               Muhammad Tayyab,   Michael Fitzgerald

                       Under 19                               Kevin Flanagan,   James McMahon

                       Player of the Year (for Sportsmanship, Performance, and Contribution to the                                                              Badminton Club)                James McMahon


                       U16 Cs Winners Dublin Schools Division 4

                       U19 Beaten Finalists Dublin Schools Division 1, 3rd in Leinster School Division 1

                       Winners with Loreto Bray of the Southside Mixed Doubles Schools Tournament


                       Junior Boys Team                   Gerrard McTague,   Rian Torres,                                                                                                                                              Luke Nolan,   Daniel McDermott


                       Winners of East Leinster Cross Country

                       Competed at East Leinster Track and Field

Chess Tournament:

                       (Competition is on-going)

Outstanding Junior Certificate 2013       Cathal Swan

Outstanding Leaving Certificate 2013     Aaron McGinnity

Student of the Year 2014                            Christopher Gannon

Lorcan Balfe, Principal


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