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A brief newsletter from Dominican College.

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Beannachtaí na Nollag.

A chairde,
As you will see from this newsletter, the school has been a hive of activity and achievements this term.  Our many successes range from the academic to achievements in sports, musical performances educational events, fundraising and much more.
Congratulations must go to Sarah Coughlan who, in addition to winning ‘The All-Ireland Scholarship Award’ funded by J.P. McManus, also won the Gold medal award for achieving the best result in Ireland in her Leaving Certificate Business exams. Congratulations are also due to her teacher Ms. Mohan. We are also very proud of 1st Year student, Niamh Scanlon, who has recently won the EU Digital Girl of the Year. Her work in coding, writing websites and creating apps has now been recognised at an international level… an amazing achievement for one so young.
The school held our annual Anti-Bullying / Friendship Week in September and a Mental Health Awareness Week in December. As part of our Mental Health Awareness Week, we emphasised the importance of well-being and positive mental health for all our students. The main aim of the week was to promote a calm, relaxed and happy environment for all to enjoy and to provide our students with techniques and skills to enhance their own well-being. There were a number of surprises thrown in such as teachers singing at lunchtime, colouring sessions and ice-cream on a cold winter’s day.
Our college continues to play an integral role in our local community; our Transition Years provide weekly computer classes to our senior neighbours involved with Age Action. Ms. Savage, together with our 5th Year students organised the annual Christmas Food Appeal in aid of St Vincent de Paul, donations of non-perishable foods were collected and organised by the students for the benefit of families and children in the local and surrounding areas. Ms. N. Murray organised the shoebox appeal which ensures that children receive presents at Christmas time and there was also Mr. Movember which raised money for The Irish Cancer Society and for Sr. Susie’s mission in Bolivia. Further very impressive fundraising for ARC in Eccles Street was organised by Aimee McGrath and Emma Buckley.
Congratulations to all our talented musicians; to all the cast and crew of the musical Aladdin for their incredible performances in mid-November and to all involved in the Christmas music concert organised by the Music department.
I hope that the families of our TY Horticulture classes enjoy the festive floral arrangements that your daughters created for you under the skilful supervision of Ms. Mc Cool and Ms. Ward. We also wish all our students the best of luck during the Young Scientist Exhibition taking place at RDS in January and encourage parents and students to attend if possible.
On behalf of all our staff, I would like to  thank you for the continued support that you give all of us at Dominican College and for playing your part in making sure that our school continues to develop and educate your daughter to reach her potential in a Catholic environment. We all wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and we look forward to an outstanding 2016.
Nollaig faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh uilig.
Dr. O. Laffoy

Mental Health Awareness.

On the week of the 8th of December, staff and students at Dominican College celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week.
On the Tuesday, the school celebrated the importance of active listening and we used music to send our message to all. In the morning, students listened to carol singing, entertainment provided by both The Amber Flag team, teachers and members of the choir. At lunch time the team went from classroom to classroom spreading Christmas cheer by singing Christmas carols. This was very well received by students as they came out of their classrooms to sing along. A number of teachers also got involved and surprised some of our kind and helpful students, by engaging in a mini flash mob at various locations throughout the school.
On Wednesday, students were introduced to the concept of mindfulness with a brief meditation activity in the morning. This introduced calm and peace before lessons began. Later on, the whole school sat down to engage in relaxing mindfulness drawing, which students found both therapeutic and relaxing.
On Thursday, our aim was to spread happiness around the school by asking everyone to think about the simple things in life that makes them happy.  This was followed by "Happiness" by Ferrell Williams being played on the intercom and a surprise delivery of ice cream for everybody to enjoy. Everyone was super happy and all students relaxed and sat back, with their super cold ice cream. We asked students to send in an image with a caption of what happiness means to them, to be in with the chance of winning a cool prize.
Along came Friday and another whole school activity, whereby students had the chance to express gratitude by writing a short letter (on nice fancy notepaper) to someone who did something meaningful for them. They were encouraged to deliver this in person with the aim of surprising the receiver of the letter and developing a stronger relationship with that person. Totally unexpectedly, some members of staff were delighted to receive a letter from their students expressing gratitude.
The Amber Flag committee also created a beautiful notice board outside the library, sharing positive information on mental health with students. The team hope to update this information throughout the year.
We aspire to get the Amber Flag for the school next year. The flag is awarded to schools in recognition of work they do to promote positive mental health. In our application, we will include our fantastic pastoral care system, the Walk in my Shoes campaign, Friendship Week and of course Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Amber Flag Committee would like to thank all teachers for their cooperation throughout the week and we hope that we put a smile on each and every person’s face.
"Happiness is laughing so hard your insides hurt"
"Happiness is finding money at the side of the couch"
"Happiness is the sight of the pizza delivery van".

Sixth Year English Trip.

As part of the Leaving Certificate course, 6th Year students study a work from Shakespeare; this year King Lear is the drama selected. To help bring the story to life the 6th Year students travelled to the Smock Alley Theatre on 20th November to see a production from the Gaiety School of Acting. Although a lengthy three hours, the performance was truly engaging and helped the students’ appreciate the wonders of Shakespearean drama. It was enjoyed by all. (Caoimhe McMahon, Sixth Year)

An Triail.

As part of the Leaving Cert Irish course, students study a drama called ‘An Triail’. On the 13th November, all of the 6th Year higher level Irish students went to see a production of the play. The performance was on in the O’Reilly Theatre in Belvedere College. We all arrived together at the theatre that morning, excited about the production. We studied the drama in class in 5th Year, and it had been some time since we had last read it, so everyone was looking forward to seeing a production of the play. With only a small number of actors, the performance was impressive. All of the actors played their parts very well, and it was great for us to see the characters that we had studied playing their parts. It was a really worthwhile trip, and all of us benefitted from the experience. (Emily Clarke 6.1)

Transition Year Physics Experience.

From the 9th - 13th, November 2015, I took part in Trinity College's TYPE programme. The week was a great experience, an insight into what a physics course is like for students studying at Trinity. There were 48 Transition Year students altogether from all around the country, and the course runs at least twice in the year.

Monday morning, we received an introductory speech in the Schrödinger building, where we sat for most of the lectures throughout the week. A sheet was handed out grouping us into teams of six, and then three within that. On this basis, we carried out the projects assigned to our groups. We did the projects in a physics computer lab with the help of one college physics student for every three TY students. Talking with the student allowed us to better understand the complex roots of our project. This also gave a direct window into some of what college physics courses consist of.

The projects themselves were very interesting, and I personally really liked what I was assigned: SQUIDs. At first glance, I thought that somebody was very enthusiastic about squids on the TYPE program, feeling it necessary to use all capitals. SQUIDs are in fact superconducting measuring devices, which I had never heard of. I found the project really interesting, and we were assessed by judges and given an A0 print of our poster at the end!

In addition to carrying out projects during the course, we attended a number of lectures. Some related generally to studying and working in physics, while others talked about specific fields in physics. All of these were very interesting, and some interactive (what better way to describe two particles colliding, than two TYs running at one another to crush the eggs in their hands at the intersection of paths?). I found the lectures invaluable, as they showed that there are lots of jobs available after the completion of a physics degree. Many fields outside of the physics discipline are open to people with the skills taught in physics courses, skills such as problem solving, abstract logic, and in-depth knowledge of computers. Many physics students who do not pursue a career in physics often choose to go into accounting or computer science.

I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity to take part in this course. It really increased the likelihood that I will apply to TCD in the future. It was great to see the inside of Trinity, and also to have gone on a trip to Birr Castle and Observatory. I would highly recommend pursuing this course, or other similar courses, to anyone who sees the possibility of going into a physics or maths career. (Tara Parnell, TY)

Toy Show.

Being on the toy show was one of the best experiences of my life. It was hard work but the excitement on the night completely made up for it. We had a lot of rehearsals to put the routine together and to get our costumes sorted. The theme of the opening this year was Beauty and the Beast. I played the tumbling rug and I did flips in the middle of the routine. Nerves ran very high just before the start but once the music started the nerves were replaced with pure excitement and adrenaline.

Everything went as planned and everyone was happy with their individual performance as well as the group act. Our dance teachers and choreographers were delighted as well. We had to stay until the end so we watched the rest of the show in our room upstairs. When the show was almost over we had to go back down to the set for the finale which went great also.

Once everyone was back in their normal clothes and their make-up was taken off, we all knew that the most magical show of the year was nothing but an unbelievable memory, but what a memory! (Amy O’Gorman, 1st Year)

Student Council Quiz.

On the 11th December, the Student Council held the annual Christmas quiz for the entire school. This year the quiz was held in the gym hall instead of individual classrooms, which meant that the whole school was together for the fun event.
At nine o’clock, the executive council set up the hall with help from some Transition Year students. As it was approaching eleven o’clock, all of the representatives and vice-representatives entered the hall and set themselves up for the long day ahead. Soon after in an orderly fashion each year group was brought down to the gym and allocated their places. The excitement and buzz filled the room, Christmas songs were playing while frantic finishing touches were applied. At half eleven the quiz started.
The quiz consisted of eight rounds including geography, music, dingbats, general knowledge, science, history, TV and the now obligatory teacher baby photos. During the interval of the quiz, there was a fashion show with six girls from the school. They all showed off their Christmassy (sic) clothes with Jessie Flynn being crowned the winner. There was also a prize for the best table name; the winner was “Rebels without a Claus”…very seasonal indeed. The senior winners of the quiz were Ailish Keating, Hollie O’Brien, Leah Emery, Sara Guebaili and Rebecca Woods. The junior winners of the quiz were Áine Henessy, Hannah Lowry, Aideen Lynch, Éabha Webb, Hannah Gillespie and Lily Kenny.
It was a really successful day which everybody enjoyed and we would like to thank all of the staff for their help and the students for making it a successful day! (Rosemary Connolly, TY)

DNA Electrophoresis.

How does DNA gel electrophoresis work?
•             Electrophoresis involves adding the DNA to an agarose gel and passing an electric current through it.
•             DNA is negatively charged so it moves through the gel towards a positive electrode
•             Larger and longer DNA sequences are heavier so they move more slowly through the gel than shorter sequences.
•             By running an electric current for a certain period of time, the different sized pieces of DNA spread out through the gel, they can then be revealed using a dye to label them, producing a line called a band on the gel. The pattern of these bands is the genetic fingerprint of the person.
It’s not every day that our students get to use such sophisticated equipment but thanks to Ms. Gillivan (who undertook two in-service training sessions) all our 6th Year students did just that. Ms. Gillivan collected the equipment and chemicals from DCU and set up the stations for all of us. The DNA costs a staggering €348,000 per litre so we didn’t get a lot! We used 15 µL per student (1 μl = 0.001 ml = 0.000001 litre…do the maths if you like using 80 students!). Skills attained included micropipetting, DNA profiling and laboratory safety. See the following link for more information:
https://www.amgenbiotechexperience.com/curriculum/curriculum-resources/gel-electrophoresis-gel-analysis

Young Scientists Exhibition.

Yet again, we have multiple groups making it to the finals of the Young Scientists Competition. They include:
 

1. The Big T! -Exploring the effect of prenatal exposure to testosterone on the behaviour and interests of teenage girls.
Kate O'Hara, Aisling Smith and Ellen Stacey

2. Mental Health - Is the stigma worse than the illness?
Ciara Chapman, Ailbhe Conway and Megan Blake

3. Changing the negative stigma surrounding mental illness in Ireland today.
Aisling Garland and Olivia Cronin

Garda Forensics Trip.

On Friday, December 4th Mr. Declan O’Connell invited seven students from Dominican College Leaving Certificate Chemistry class on a tour of the Garda Forensic Lab located in the Phoenix Park.
We got to see DNA profiling in the flesh, how evidence is taken and used from crime scene investigations and some of us even got to hold €200k worth of cocaine from the drug testing unit! It was an exciting and extremely rewarding trip, we learned lots of interesting information about the world of forensic science. Possibly now we will have a few of our very own Dominican forensic scientists at big and important crime scenes in the future!!  (Laura Swan, 6.1)
Ellie Halloran, Jenny O’Connell, Roisin Delaney, Caoimhe Harold, Rachel Harold, Laura Swan and Rebecca Mulvey are all pictured above.

Student Newsletter.

On the 11th of December 2015, Isabella Finn (a 5th Year student) launched the first student newspaper “The Dominican Times” with the help of Ms R. Finn (teacher). Isabella developed the newspaper with the intention of uniting the students of Dominican College from all year groups and sharing the news of the incredible achievements made by our students. The newspaper will report about sport, music, science, art and thrilling articles written by the students. A Dominican Times suggestion box can be found outside the main office in the new year 2016 for students to suggest items they deem worthy of being published. As well as this, Isabella and Ms. Finn will host a newspaper meeting monthly to discuss ideas with students participating to the newspaper. The newspaper will continue to be published monthly due to the success and support the first issue received. The next issue will be published on the 29th of January and we look forward to receive your input. (Isabella Finn, 5th Year)

TY Horticulture.

Smells of cinnamon, rosemary and pinecones have been wafting out of Lab 1 and Lab 2 again this year thanks to Ms. McCool and Ms. Ward.  One might have asked questions of the teachers’ and students’ sanity going about the grounds in all sorts of weather cutting and pruning but the “fruits” of their work are very evident coming up to Christmas.

Once the preparation of dried oranges, clay hearts and sprayed pinecones was complete, students got the chance to assemble it all.  The results were absolutely beautiful with students learning how to create a Christmas centrepiece using a balanced arrangement of fresh flowers, greenery and dried Christmas articles.  We hope the recipients will enjoy them as much as the students did making them.

U19 Basketball.

Well done to the U19 Basketball team who have qualified for the SSA Dublin Regional Semi Finals in January. After a tough defeat to both Santa Sabina and Manor House Raheny, the U19’s came back and won their next four games. Well done to all the girls involved and we look forward to hopefully a great victory in January!
U19 Basketball Team
Back row: Siobhán Horan, Trish Mirr, Jenny O’Connell, Ali Donohue, Ailish Keating, Bronagh Monaghan
Front row: Ernesta Klusaite, Sadbh Capper, Tara Donohue, and Sara Guebaili. (absent from photo - Ciara O’Leary)

Christmas Concert 2015.

The annual Christmas Concert took place in the school hall on Thursday 10th December 2015.

As always it was an evening of festive music for parents and friends to leap into the Christmas spirit with music and instrumentation for people of all ages. Choirs, soloists and the school orchestra provided a night of musical entertainment along with performances from past pupils, Megan Cronin and Laoise Fleming accompanied by past pupil Alice Murphy. All of the choirs and orchestra’s hard work and perseverance were evident on the night. It was clear from the standing ovations and Christmas atmosphere in the school that occasion was one to remember.

Special appreciation is due to prefects Aoife Brennan and Sally Cryan who did a wonderful job in working through the past few months to prepare the 1st Year choir for the concert.

Sincere thanks to Dr. Laffoy, Mrs Halton, members of the Board of Management, members of the Dominican Sisters Community and members of the Past Pupils Union who were in attendance. The success of the evening was due in no small part to Mr. Curry for his help given in organising the hall ahead of the concert and ensuring the smooth running of the concert backstage throughout the evening. Also to Ms Lloyd who ensured everyone enjoyed the refreshments. Thanks to Mr Hurley and the TY students for looking after the light and sound and to Niamh Brennan who organised the visual supports during the concert.

Many thanks to the office staff for the help, support and patience shown to everyone in preparation for the night, to Damien, the caretaker and to Mr Mc Cartney for a wonderful job as Santa on the night!

Finally, thanks to all involved, including the Music Department, Ms. Doyle, Ms. Goggins and Ms. Murray.

Nollaig shona daoibh go léir! (Christen Mooney, 6th Year)

Breast Cancer Awareness.

On Friday, 4th of December, Aimee McGrath and I took on the task of raising much needed funds for the Arc Foundation and to raise awareness of breast cancer. The Arc Foundation offers counselling to women who undergo therapy for breast cancer.

We first researched the foundation and then went from class to class to see how many students would buy ribbons from us and how much would be fair to charge. We made the ribbons ourselves (project maths was a big help here!). We also organised a non-uniform day where students could wear any item of pink and they were charged €2 for the privilege!

In total we collected almost €1,000 euro and we can’t thank everyone enough for their encouragement, help and ultimately their generosity. Our principal, Dr. Laffoy, was especially helpful and allowed us time to organise everything.

(Emma Buckley, 5th Year)

Walk in My Shoes.

During last term, we had a ‘Walk in My Shoes’ awareness event and fundraiser. All students and staff were invited to wear two different shoes indicating that they could empathise with other people’s lives - a key factor in helping peoples' mental health.
Dominican College students raised €645 for St Patrick's University Hospital Mental Health Foundation. In the picture are Barbara Cleary, Social Worker and Louise O'Leary Occupational Therapist from St Patrick's University Hospital accepting the cheque from Caitlin Murphy (4.4), our main volunteer for Walk in my Shoes, and Ms Kealy, teacher and librarian.
As a follow up, on Wednesday 2nd December we had a 'Walk in my Shoes' speaker from St Patrick's University Hospital, Scott Ahern, who spoke about how mental illness affected his life and how his ability to talk about his illness transformed his life. The main effect, he found, of talking about his illness was to get rid of the stigma attached to it. 
Class 4.4 listened keenly to what he said as did some of the entrants of this year’s BT Young Scientists’ Competition who are submitting two different entries on different aspects of stigma and mental illness. We wish those groups and all four groups entering the BT Young Scientist the very best of luck.
‘Walk in my Shoes’ was a very successful mental health awareness day.  (Ms Kealy)

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