“Open yourself to support” – a TY Student’s guide to secondary school

Amber Synnott is a TY Student in Coláiste Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow. Sharing her thoughts and experiences from her past four years of education, Amber highlights the the keys to real value and learning from school.

A school is a place where people go to learn and to further their education, yet not that many students actually like going to school. It’s typically considered a boring place that nobody enjoys going to five days a week, with teachers who give out about ‘everything’.

But for me, going to Coláiste Chill Mhantáin for seven hours a day, five days a week isn’t actually boring.

It’s a place where I get to be with my friends for a few hours, and where I get to learn from teachers whose best interests are to help me understand and guide me through things I struggle with.

I’m a Transition Year student in CCM, a year that’s seen as a time where all your studies go out the window, and a year to ‘relax’ after your Junior Cert — however, that’s not what it’s about for me. TY is a time where I get to experience new things and try activities I wouldn’t usually get to do in school.

We still do base subjects — teachers don’t let us slack off just because we’re not an exam-based year. They introduce us to different topics we’ll meet in Leaving cycle so we won’t be as confused, and we have summer and Christmas tests just like every other year.

The teachers over Transition Year make sure we have the best opportunities and the best experiences we possibly can. I’ve gotten to do things like do a Q&A session with Tomi Reichental, a Holocaust survivor and go orienteering. I’ve also participated in many workshops and different modules, such as First Aid, Forensic Science and Sign Language.

So far, Transition Year has been quite enjoyable for me. It’s really about how much you intend to participate in during the year to decide whether or not Transition Year is worthwhile for you.

I believe if you try and get involved with everything, you will have a fantastic year.

Coláiste Chill Mhantáin is a very sporty school. We have teams in many different sports, both girls and boys, seniors and juniors. With the help of their coaches, many CCM teams have had great successes throughout the years.

But it’s not just sports that the school takes pride in. The school has great regard for its academics, as well as the music department receiving high honour. The school’s music department have participated in many different competitions, and even have their own original song written by students with the help of Luan Parle.

Many bright students have received great support from the faculty for their participation in debates and quizzes around the country — some students have even had success outside of Ireland.

The teaching staff in Coláiste Chill Mhantáin show their praise to all their students daily, whether it’s classwork, sports, music or any other activities, in or outside of the school.

I can’t speak for other people, but in my experience during my Junior Cycle, the teachers were nothing but supportive. All of them were there to help, no matter how lost or confused I was. My teachers have always been patient and understanding with me in class.

During the four years I have been in the school, there has never been an incident or problem that wasn’t solved. There was always more than enough people there to listen to any problems I had, whether it was a teacher, a guidance counsellor, the principle or even one of my fellow students.

Throughout my journey in CCM, there has never been a time where I hated the full day. Of course there were classes I didn’t particularly like or activities I didn’t enjoy, but there was never a point where I wasn’t being provided something valuable each day.

If you open yourself to the support of teachers and friends, one will see the countless opportunities given to enjoy and progress in school.

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