Delgany National School’s community was celebrating on Thursday November 9 as the school’s new learning support rooms, library and staff room were officially opened by Archbishop Michael Jackson. Pupils, teachers and staff, members of the board of management and parents and the architect and builder filled the school hall as the children told of their delight with the new facilities. Later they gathered outside in glorious sunshine as the Archbishop cut the ribbon on the new rooms.
Throughout the morning pupils sang joyful songs and representatives of each class spoke about what the library meant to them. They were all delighted to have a dedicated reading space where they could relax with their favourite books and many were impressed by the comfortable furnishings.
Principal, Patricia Conran, paid tribute to everyone who had contributed to making the new facilities a reality over the last four years. She said that for the first time in seven years the library had been returned to its original use. The library, along with school corridors and other available spaces, had been used for learning support.
Special education teacher and teacher representative of the board of management, Mark Howard, outlined Delgany National School’s development from 1989, when he joined the staff, to the present day. The two schools were incomparable, he said, adding that Delgany NS was blessed to have dedicated special education rooms.
The additional needs classroom must provide a relaxed, calm, safe space where pupils can learn in ways that suit them, he explained. “During my training in special education, one term dominated. That was ‘inclusivity’. It must permeate the whole school community. Inclusivity celebrates diversity, it celebrates individuality and it celebrates meeting the needs of all pupils and the whole school community,” Mr Howard said.
He added that children always valued fairness but fairness did not always mean everyone has the same but that everyone had equal opportunities that meet their needs. “My hope is that every child will have opportunities to inspire each other and develop as individuals,” he concluded.
Chairman of the board of management and Rector of Delgany, the Rev. Nigel Waugh, paid tribute to the principal and her staff for seeing the need and appreciating that the school needs to cater for the needs of all its pupils. “This has always been a school which puts the needs of the children first and we have seen this in the new learning support rooms,” he said.
Archbishop Jackson said that it was wonderful to see development in a school that was so happy, confident and full of life. He congratulated the principal and all who had driven the project. He spoke to the children about the importance of a sense of inquisitiveness and curiosity which could be nurtured while settling into their new library.
He also encouraged the children to read. “Books are alive. Books are a story that you live and bring into your school day and then take home with you. My encouragement to you is to read every day and then close your eyes and remember it and go home and tell your parents what you have read. You might encourage them to read and tell you about it,” he said.