Thursday, October 26, 2006

Creative Writing course

Tomorrow, we go on half-term. Posting will resume after that. Meanwhile, Dylan Stewart (V Form) is one of seven pupils attending creative writing classes in Ballyroan and says:

'The creative writing classes that I have been attending every Wednesday for the last three weeks have been held in the seminar room of a local public library. Our teacher is a young guy (I think he's a novelist) who says that he's worth about ten cent. But don't let that fool you: these classes have been good fun and have been beneficial to me and the others who have been attending them.

We take part in such activities as learning how to develop characters and their conflicts and resolutions through a story using diagrams. We listen to each other's work and critique it and we also read out our own work to the group.The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. We are a small group, about 16, doing the course, so the small numbers make it easy to communicate and listen. There are some really talented writers there (including me, of course) and some talented poets, though the classes focus on fiction writing mostly. I'll finish by saying that the course is very worthwhile for anyone who enjoys and takes pride in their writing.'

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

TY Extended Essay books

Apart from the books recommended in earlier posts, these are some of the other books being read and for the IV form Extended Essays:-

Dermot Bolger's The Family on Paradise Pier, Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong, Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Today - an African childhood, Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, Hunter S.Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Hans Peter Richter's Friedrich, Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, Jennifer Johnston's Shadows on our Skin, Jonathan Saffran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Stuart Hill's Blade of Fire, Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke, Michael Mullen's The Last Days of the Romanovs, and many many more ...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Form Plays

Last night we had the first drama events of the school year, the Primary, I and II form plays in the BSR. These give younger (and often new) pupils the chance to perform early on in the year. Primary and I put on an entertaining version of Cinderella (directed by Jane Bustard) with many performers, including Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi as Cinderella, Lucy Mantle as the Fairy Godmother and Molly Shea as mother of the Ugly Sisters. Then II form performed a brief and distinctly 'loose' version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (directed by Peter McCarthy), featuring a chorus line in togas, a female Caesar (Miriam Poulton), and the memorably unShakespearean line by Robbie Hollis 'Come on Caesar, give us a kiss.'

Saturday, October 21, 2006

TY Extended Essay

The Transition Year are close now to writing their major project, the Extended Essay. Early next week they have special classes to plan and structure these essays, and technical guidelines about layout.

Another book recommendation. Celeste Guinness is reading Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. 'This is a novel set in South Africa during the 1940s when apartheid was at its most separatist. The main character is Kumalo, a holy man or 'umfundisi'. After his son has left Johannesburg, and fails to reply to any of his father's letters, Kumalo goes to the city to find him, and also to bring home his sister Gertrude, who has fallen on the wrong side of the tracks.

The writing style in this novel is very different to anything I have read. There are no inverted commas at all, to help the reader identify when someone is speaking, or listening. Without these, the reader has to decipher what is speech and what is thought. I am thoroughly enjoying the book.'

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Twelfth Night update

Rehearsals in the BSR for our forthcoming Shakespeare Society production of Twelfth Night on 17/18 November have been underway for over a month now. Yesterday our costume director, Jann Robinson, arrived from England to start seeing actors and the many 'extras' (including the choir). Choir practices with have been progressing in parallel with the acting rehearsals ; Mrs Malone-Brady has composed some lovely music for Shakespeare's lyrics, and the famous song 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' will open the production. After half-term the BSR will be transformed by the art and design team, led by Katie Terres. Patrick Ussher is designing the programme. Our Head of Drama, Jeremy Stone, apart from being lighting director, will also direct the final wedding party dance, to the music of French crooner Charles Trenet.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 5

Two IV formers are reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Hanne Grainger : 'This is an extremely well-written book about an autistic boy called Christopher Boon. He is very intelligent, but people do not think so because of his autism. He is keen on becoming a detective, and when a dog is killed mysteriously next door, his adventure begins. It is a great book because you get to understand the way his mind works, and what problems autistic people have. It's brilliant!'
And Sarah Wilson : 'I thought this brilliant, because it shows you what it would be like to be an autistic boy, and the problems you would have to face. It was very entertaining, enjoyable and interesting.'

Woo Jin Jung : Holes, by Louis Sacher. 'I have enjoyed this book. It shows how the main character, Stanley Yelnats, lives in an approved school. He starts to make relationships, and to live in a strange place. I think this book tells us about relationships, and that's why I liked it.'

Allen Crampton : Regeneration, by Pat Barker. 'This novel is set in the Great War, and has many real-life encounters, based on Craiglockhart Hospital. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, the famous war poets, feature. It gives us an insight into the trauma and after-effects of war, and shows what it does to people. It is quite heavy reading, but is very descriptive.'

Friday, October 13, 2006

Twelfth Night poster competition

We are again running a poster competition for the forthcoming Shakespeare Society production of Twelfth Night. The 'theme' of this production is 1920/30s Mediterranean beach society, with setting, costumes and music all reflecting this. Art pupils are invited to take part, and can see here evocative French pictures of the time to inspire them. Please see Mr Watts or Miss Cullen for further details. Entries are due in by half-term (Friday 27th October).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 4

More books being read by Transition Year for their Extended Essays :-

Poppy Law : To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (pictured). "It was a really gripping book, and I read it in two days over the summer. I really enjoyed it and was constantly wondering about the whole Boo Radley situation. I loved Atticus - he is a bit like my Dad, so I really loved the character. Overall, I loved the book."

Serge Bauvet : Crazy, by Benjamin Lebert. "This novel is about a 16 year-old boy in a German secondary school. He is like any other boy - drinking, chasing after girls, doing stupid stuff. He has been thrown out of four other schools and he is starting in a new one. The only difference he has from others is that he is paralysed down his left side. I like this book because I can relate to the adolescent side, and it interests me to see how a handicapped person copes with everyday life."

Hal Downer : The Killing of Yesterday's Children, by M.S. Power. "I have recently finished this, and I found it quite deep. The characters were quite unusual, but I think this is why I liked it. It is set in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s, and is about several different characters with completely opposite political views."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

House Speech competition review

Here is Hanne Grainger's review of the recent Transition Year House Speech competition.

TY Extended Essay Reading 3

More books being read by Transition Year pupils for their Extended Essay projects:-

Joseph Millar : All Quiet on the Western Front, by Eric Maria Remarque - "One thing that immediately sets this apart from other war books is that it is brutally, almost uncomfortably, honest about war. The author, being a soldier in WWI, tells it from the heart. Reading the book seems almost like reading the author's personal thoughts - it is as if he is writing from the war itself. It is an amazing, shocking book, and on many occasions it breaks your heart."

Rachael Roden : Poppy Shakespeare, by Clare Allen :- "This is a novel seen through the eyes of a psychiatric patient at a mental hospital in London. The writing style is original, probably because it is seen through the eyes of a patient who doesn't have perfect English and gives amusing names to the different aspects of the hospital. It is written by an author who spent ten years herself in a psychiatric home. I would strongly recommend this novel, as it is both amusing, and provides an insight into psychiatric practices."

Isobel Hunter : Ithaka, by Adele Geras :- "A modern interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, set in the royal household. It is told from the perspective of Queen Penelope and some servants. This book gives an honest interpretation of life in Ancient Greece. It's a heartwarming novel, with characters you can relate to."

More recommendations over the next week or so. The Extended Essays have to be completed by mid-November, and later in term we will post some completed ones here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Importance of Being Earnest reviews

Recently the Transition Year went on an outing to the Abbey production of Oscar Wilde's masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. Here are two reviews by pupils - Celeste Guinness and Rebecca Roe.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 2

As we head into our weekend 'Exodus' break, some more books recommended by IV pupils preparing their Extended Essays ...

Mikeila Cameron : 'Blood Sisters, by Stephanie and Barbara Keating : I highly recommend this to those who enjoy reading about people who have lived in Africa, and their experiences. It is set in the 1940s, and follows the lives of three girls and how they cope with Independence and the Emergency in Kenya.'

David Cooper : 'Star of the Sea, by Joseph O'Connor : I have almost finished reading this. It's a gripping book with a lot of twists and surprises. I like it because it's based on fact and there are a lot of eyewitness accounts in it. The book is about the struggles of unfortunate poor Irish citizens who dare to venture on the journey to America in an aptly named "coffin ship".'

Rebecca Feeney-Barry : 'How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston : I would encourage everyone to read this book. It is a very captivating story of a friendship that must survive every obstacle. The suspense is present up to the very last line. It is beautifully written in everyday simple language that describes scenes of war, sadness and love. It is very difficult to stop reading once you have started it. I really enjoyed it and think that anybody else would too.'

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

III form book reports

For many years, pupils in III form have written substantial book reports in this term. These reports must be on at least two books, which must contain an element of comparison. The report will count as 20% of their end of term Michaelmas examination and will be huge help in guiding/directing them to prepare for the Fiction element of their Junior Certificate examination. When they are completed in two months' time, we will post some of the work here. Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 1

Over the next few days we will post some reading recommendations from Transition Year pupils who are currently researching their Extended Essays.

Jane Quigley : "Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracey Chevalier : Having read most of Chevalier's novels, I find this one most interesting mainly because of all her protagonists, the girl in this book is the closest in age to me, and therefore I can almost feel a connection with Griet. The novel features love, both forbidden and unrequited, and change in many ways. I like it because it shows people maturing over a short period of time. So far little has happened in the large scale of things, but small hints have been given as to how (maybe) this love story might end."

Crispin Maenpaa : "Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami, is an excellent novel, which is one of the best Far Eastern novels I have ever read. Murakami portrays the struggle of a boy in an emphatic way. The novel is a little surreal on occasion, but he writes in such a flowing style that it doesn't matter. This is a truly stunning novel."

Victoria Cooper : "I'm reading The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve (pictured), and so far I find it very gripping. It makes me want to keep reading. It's about love, but it's also quite sad and depressing. Sometimes sad books make you want to read on."

Monday, October 02, 2006

House Speech winners

Last night the ten Transition Year speakers gave their speeches to the school in the Big Schoolroom. The winner was Ollie Smith (Gwynn), on the subject of being hospitalised, second was Brian Leveau (Stackallan) on airports and third Gary Lawler (Glen), on coping with diabetes. Gwynn was the best overall House. A review of the evening by Hanne Grainger will appear here in a few days.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Shakespeare Searched

A new link has been added to our Shakespeare Links sidebar - Shakespeare Searched, a search engine of all his works, particularly useful for VI and V forms studying Leaving Certificate. Search for individual words, clusters of words/ideas/topics, by every individual character, and in every play (plus the sonnets).

In Twelfth Night, our Shakespeare Society production currently in rehearsal, 'love' appears 62 times. In Macbeth, being revised now by VI form, 'love' appears 18 times.