Monday, November 20th 2017 will go down in our history as an extraordinary, extra-special and exceptional day for Esker Educate Together. We welcomed the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins along with Mrs. Higgins to our school. The excitement was palpable in the air as children stood around the perimeter waving their flags and cheering as the black car of the President came in to view. President Higgins and Mrs Higgins were met by our oldest and youngest students, who presented them with flowers. Then President Higgins was introduced to Cllr. Paul Gogarty (Mayor of South Dublin County) Paul Rowe (CEO of Educate Together), Vivienne Roche (Artist), Fergus Cronin (advisor to the Project), Colm O’Brien (Managing Director of Carambola), members of the Board of Management, members of the Parent-Teacher Association and Tom Costelloe (our retired Deputy Principal).
He then moved inside, where he was given a really interesting talk by the Green School/Global Citizenship Committee representatives about climate change, whilst accompanied by their teachers Paula and Niamh. The President was told about how we could make a difference to our planet and how we should try to reduce our ecological footprint. As an exceptional poet himself, he was treated to a poem by one of our budding young poets about how we could ensure our successful future by minding our earth and changing our wasteful habits.
A short walk away, through a very lively and excited guard of honour of senior infants led to the gazebo, where the artist Vivienne Roche discussed the art installations in the garden. The President opened "The Book of Climate Bells" and two sixth class children and Gemma rang the school bell three times to signify a warning bell, a call to action, and the power of individual and group action in looking after our environment. Earth Overshoot Day 2017 was also recorded, which tells us that we are using more ecological resources and services than we can renew or regenerate. The party then moved to the Sunbell Garden, designed by Vivienne Roche and sponsored by Carambola. This outdoor classroom is made of Corten steel with a perspex sun and an old ship's bronze bell. When the sun shines at midday, it will throw a beautiful light through the window on to the ground. Once the steel has fully rusted, we will be able to use this space to teach the children and to immerse them in nature.
Next, the Presidential party moved in to the hall, welcomed by the Presidential Salute. Catherine then formally introduced President Higgins and Mrs. Higgins. Senior infants told the story of Eddie the Penguin, who wanted to save the earth. They were joined in song by the choir. Rousing speeches followed by Peggy (Chairperson of the BOM), President Higgins and Colette. The choir sang about the future being in our "Own two hands"; that we could effect change by taking responsibility for our planet. The President was presented with a specially commissioned calligraphy version of the "Proclamation for a New Generation", which we wrote for the centenary of the Easter Rising 1916, last year. Three children read out some very poignant excerpts. The choir finished with our school song, "What a Wonderful World". Then President Higgins and Mrs. Higgins met the choir, local faith and non-faith representatives, as well as many of the invited guests. A small jig began and the President and Mrs. Higgins departed to a standing ovation from the audience.
The invited guests, followed by the parents filled in to the staff room to sample beautiful food by Mr. Khan and served by the PTA. The junior infant classrooms were decorated by the PTA and were made the most airy and cheerful restaurant. Many parents and staff had contributed delicious desserts, which were quickly gobbled up by the crowd. Parents then went up to see their children in the classrooms. The PTA had very kindly funded a "Madagascar" themed circus. Popcorn and candyfloss were served to eager, delighted children who settled down for the show. (Our healthy eating policy returned the next day!) The children saw a magnificent magician's show and then several enormous "Madagascar" characters emerged from the PE storeroom! The day ended with a countdown as the children and staff of the school celebrated 10 years of education, friendship and fun.
This day would not have been possible without the support of the children, PTA, staff and community: It is these that make our school a truly unique and wonderful school. We know that our children will treasure the memories that were created on this special day, as we will.