We were so thrilled to finally get the keys for our new school building. Our ribbon-cutting ceremony was a wonderful day for our staff, who had spent the previous weeks and months packing everything we owned into boxes for moving!
On the 6th January, we welcomed our pupils for the first time! We held a ribbon cutting ceremony for each class level to officially open the classrooms. We were blown away by our gorgeous new classrooms and new spaces to explore - the hall, the library, the colour-coded classrooms and staircases, the dedicated wing for our autism classes, the basketball courts, outdoor classroom, running track and so much more!
In January, we spent a lot of time learning about our new building, navigating our way around, unpacking the 100s and 100s of boxes and just enjoying being in our new surroundings. We didn't even have internet or a phone connection, but we managed just fine!
February was another busy month as we continued to settle into our new building. Our walls began to be decorated with artwork. We welcomed back our GAA and basketball coaches and began to work on our Spring Concerts.
We were also delighted to welcome our parents and guardians for Parent-Teacher meetings for all classes.
In March, we continued to enjoy our new school building. We were delighted to learn that we would be opening our new Early Intervention class for children with autism in September. We began doing the Daily Mile, with classes utilizing our running track. We welcomed the Sam Maguire cup to our school for another year.
Then, on the 12th March, we learned that our Taoiseach was closing all schools in the entire country, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Little did we know that we wouldn't be able to reopen the building again until the middle of August.
We had to quickly adapt to teaching and learning online. We set up a whole section of our website, which was dedicated to distance learning. We continued to celebrate our pupils and their work, in a virtual way.
Our Board of Management also made a very generous donation to Barnardos during this difficult time.
In April, we were beginning to realise that our building would be closed for quite some time. We set up Seesaw for all pupils, to make teaching and learning more accessible. We conducted parent and staff surveys to see what would work best during this time.
We began to host our staff meetings on Zoom. We celebrated World Autism Awareness Day.
As summer approached, we were still conducting teaching and learning online. We were missing each other, but we were finding new ways to stay connected, through class zooms and assemblies. We launched Well-being Fortnight, which was a way to get our whole community involved with our school activities. Caitríona began uploading daily videos from our school campus, which helped us to stay connected to our building.
Later in May we celebrated Language Fortnight - a fabulous two weeks where our pupils could teach us all about the languages they know. In addition, we were able to set up for the distribution of school books.
Our Parents Association also launched the Our School Rocks project.
As June rolled around, we began to wind up for the summer break. We hosted our virtual Information Evening for incoming pupils, who would be new to our school in September. We finished off our teaching and learning for the year, with our final assemblies and Zoom calls. End-of-year report cards were sent out, while our pupils learned which teachers and ANAs they would be working with in September. We also celebrated Diversity Fortnight and Active Fortnight.
Finally, we hosted Graduation for our 6th class pupils - the children who had been our first ever Junior Infants had reached the end of their Citywest ETNS journey! Our community played a big part in helping to make this day special, even helping us to do a virtual Guard of Honour for our wonderful graduates.
While all of this was going on, Caitríona, the Board of Management and school staff were looking ahead to the new school year and to finally being able to reopen our school building.
During the month of July, we awaited further guidance on the reopening of schools. We were excited to announce that we would be running Summer Provision in August, with our largest ever cohort of pupils attending.
August saw our school campus become a busy place once again - we were so thrilled to be back! We welcomed children back to the building for the first time in 5 months for the two weeks of Summer Provision.
The Board of Management ratified the school Covid Response Plan and our staff got to work preparing the school for the return of all of our pupils. Sanitising stations were installed, PPE was ordered and distributed, new procedures and protocols were implemented, classrooms were laid out, signs were mounted, videos were created to help to welcome back our pupils... along with lots of meetings and discussions to ensure we were prepared.
On the 29th and 30th August, we finally welcomed our pupils back to school for the first time since the 12th March!
In the month of September, we prioritised certain areas of school life - re-integrating our pupils after a long break from the building, learning new procedures and systems, focusing on Well-being and re-connecting with one another. Our pupils did us proud, adapting so well to the new normal. We welcomed some new members of staff too!
We began to settle back into our building, which was still so new to us - our new photocopiers were delivered, we started to use our outdoor classroom and new outdoor sheds, we got used to the new procedures. We also began to attend assembly on Zoom each Friday. Our staff also officially began their Restorative Practice training.
Caitríona and Anita met with our school inspector near the end of September, to discuss the reopening. We also became an established school as we reached our designated number of pupils, meaning we are no longer a developing school - what an historic moment for our school!
The big news in October was that our new Student Council was announced. We were thrilled to meet the new group of children who will represent their peers this year. They already have some big ideas!
In October, our pupils and staff continued to do a brilliant job in adapting to the new procedures and protocols. We also focused on the development of our Distance Learning skills, in case of any future school building closures.
In November, we continued to work hard in school. Our corridors slowly became more colourful and decorated as our pupils created some wonderful projects and artwork.
The Stay Safe programme was commenced in almost all classes. Zoom assemblies continued on Friday morning, with pupils being nominated for the Golden Book for showing examples of our Learn Together value of the month.
And so here we are... exactly one year on from our Big Move!
This December is a lot different to last year. By now, our boxes are all unpacked and we are firmly settled into our building. We are currently celebrating our first ever Creative Fortnight, which feels like the perfect way to finish out the year - celebrating our wonderful pupils and their many talents!
It really has been a year like no other, but we are so grateful for our wonderful school community and this building - our forever home!