Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Reading list for parents

Last time we posted the Library reading suggestions list for pupils. Now it's time for the annual/biennial reading suggestions for parents. Here are 26 books over 6 pages, but if that's not enough there's an extended list of 26 pages with all the previous editions here. See both below via Issuu.

Happy summer reading.

Extended version:

The Submarine, June 2017

The latest (bumper) edition of the Library magazine The Submarine is now online. Edited by Fifth Former Nyla Jamieson, it contains articles by pupils on our four long-serving retiring teachers, Felix Alyn Morgan on Samuel Beckett's connection with the College, an article on 'Lucid Dreaming' by Nevin McCone, Mr McCarthy on 'what really annoys me' (spoiler: Jose Mourinho. A lot), Dr Bannister on the dangers of rugby, a book review by Alex Lawrence, the author Joseph O'Connor on how a novel changed his life (romantically), poems by Eliza Somerville and Tania Stokes, Garry Bannister again on Patrick Ussher's book on POTS syndrome and plenty more!

Read it below via Issuu. Use the arrows to navigate, and click for closer view.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Reading List for pupils

The summer reading list returns, compiled by Librarian Jean Kent-Sutton. This one has an excellent array spread across sections such as Junior Fiction, the shortlist for the 2017 Carnegie Medal (young adults), Irish authors, Classic fiction, Poetry, Gender and Identity, Non-Fiction and Biography.

You can read it on Issuu below (flip through the pages, and zoom in too), and can download it directly from this link.  Happy summer reading...

Friday, June 09, 2017

Leaving Certificate Paper 2

(See analysis of Paper 1 here).

The hordes poured out of exam centres an hour ago after the marathon which is the English literature paper.

No reasons to complain here at Higher Level. Our central text, Hamlet, had two questions all should have been able to handle comfortably - the play as a 'disturbing psychological thriller' and a question on Laertes and Horatio, both of whom our pupils have been well-prepared for (again, the single text questions on The Great Gatsby were very straightforward).

Comparative study featured General Vision and Viewpoint, and Theme or Issue, with all four questions being remarkably undemanding, and pulling away from the tighter more defined questions of recent years.

Robyn Sarah's poem 'Bounty' was the unseen choice, a good one which provided plenty of material for consideration. Boland, Donne, Keats and Bishop were the line-up of prescribed poets, and again the questions seemed less defined and constrained than recently (there's a fondness for 'doubles' - 'symbols and metaphors', 'playful and challenging', 'style and content', 'sensuous language and vivid imagery'...).

At Ordinary Level, it was good to see the playful 'poet of Twitter', Brian Bilston feature with the unseen poem being 'For We Shall Stare at Mobile Phones'. The rest of the paper was as straightforward as always at this level.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Leaving Certificate Paper 1

The Leaving Certificate exams started this morning, as always with English Paper 1. Now, this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow morning there is the annual stress-fest which is final-hours' preparation for the literature papers.

At Higher Level, this year the 'general theme' was 'Different Worlds' (though it is doubtful if this theme ever sinks into the consciousness of most candidates, or ever matters). There was an interesting selection of comprehension texts, starting with 'The World of Poetry', which combined images, poetry and prose in its use of this Guardian article from last year from by Marta Bausells on the poet Robert Montgomery, and his work on billboards. There was plenty here for candidates to get their heads around. The 'B' question which followed brought Paper 2 into Paper 1 (not the first time this has happened), by asking candidates to choose three poems from their course for display, and an article on the school website (any real purpose to this in terms of language register?) explaining the choice.

Text 2, 'A Connected World' was by the fine political and cultural commentator Timothy Garton Ash, with some thought-provoking analysis of how 'the internet subverts the traditional unities of time and space'.  Again, this will have challenged candidates. Online news appeared in the B question - very much a subject de nos jours.

Another excellent writer, Paul Auster, produced Text 3, 'The World of Childhood', an extract from his memoir Report from the Interior, followed by a radio talk for the B essay on the candidate's own childhood.

Overall, this added up to a well-selected and interesting triad. Nothing bland or predictable there. 

There were plenty of accessible options for candidates in the main composition section (though number 4  - "write a short story in which a tattoo plays an important part in the narrative" seemed what teenagers would call 'random'). A descriptive piece called 'Night Scene' and a personal essay about insights and revelations offered wide scope.

Then there was the playful Question 5: 'Imagine it is the Stone Age and you have just invented the wheel. Write a dialogue in dramatic form, in which you introduce and promote your invention to your sceptical friends and neighbours.' Now that's one to steer clear of unless you've got real ability. One that could go downhill quite quickly, or at least run out of steam, or at worse fall flat on its face (after going downhill and running out of steam).

At Ordinary Level, which a handful of our candidates sat, there was another excellent author, Donal Ryan, whose most recent novel All We Shall Know, is just out in paperback, and is highly recommended, as well as a piece by a Syrian refugee, Nujeen Mustafa, and a piece comparing schooling in the past with the future (teachers as robots - yes please! Now we can all go off to the beach). The Compositions, as always at this level, were straightforward. A piece about childhood items discovered in your parents' attic was good. A short story about a family regretting adopting a robot would stretch Ordinary candidates.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Transition Year English Evening, 2017

On Tuesday last we held the 24th annual TY English Evening in the Big Schoolroom. The guest speaker this time was Professor Colin Graham, Head of the English Department at Maynooth University.

Eight pieces from the recent Work Portfolio were read out by their writers: Ross Magill (his first Primary school); David White (the nature of 'failure'); Lucy Maher ('A Picky Eater'); Toby Green (Blanche Dubois's diary); Anna Bofferding (Donald Trump and World War III); Andre Stokes (a poem called 'Young Musician'); Casper v d Schuelenberg ('The Oldest Person I Know' - the Holocaust survivor Marko Feingold); William Zitzmann ('Thought Bubbles', assisted by Grace Goulding).

Professor Graham commented with great attentiveness and sympathy on these pieces, saying how much he was impressed by the writing on display. Each piece had made him think of another writer. He stressed the vital importance of a multiplicity of voices in today's world, and how important it was that young people lead this way (in many ways his own generation has failed them).  He quoted from Sam Riviere's controversial book of poems Kim Kardashian's Wedding.

Finally, the Premier Awards were announced after this year's course:  
Ross Magill, Helen Crampton, Harry Oke-Osanintolu, Catherine Butt, Caspar von der Sch├╝lenburg, Julius Reblin, JiWoo Park, William Zitzmann, Toby Green, Isabelle Townshend, Sophia von Wedel, Nicole Birlain Zeigler.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Voices of Poetry 2017

 Last Sunday evening saw the annual Voices of Poetry magic in the Big Schoolroom. Expertly marshalled by Mr Swift, a mixture of pupils and staff read out short poems in English and many other languages.

Primary pupil Carl Krenski kicked off with a Robert Service poem, and, from the other end of the school Senior Prefect Blanaid Sheeran gave us 'The Voice You Hear When You Read Silently' by the fine American Poet Thomas Lux.

The first Nigerian language, Urhobo, was represented by a poem read by Ella Ejase-Tobrise, and the second, Yoruba, by Seyilogo Braithwaite. Mimi Garcia (Catalan) and Casper von der Schuelenburg (Spanish) followed, and this foreign language section was completed by Elena Sirazetdinova reading her own poem in Russia with compelling intensity.

The winner of the Junior Poetry Prize, Tania Stokes, read this poem, 'Resonance', for which she was awarded the prize.

Kim Voggel (German), Aleksandra Murphy (Polish),  Lucas Cho (Korean), Vietnamese (William Zitzmann) and Irish (Katherine Kelly, with Megan Bulbulia providing the English translation) were next up.

Three long-term teachers, who are shortly retiring, gave their poetic 'valetes' - Dr Garry Bannister, Mrs Frances Heffernan and Mr Fraser Morris. There was a mixture of the light-hearted, the deeply personal and the grippingly emotional in the five poems they recited.

French (Nyla Jamison), Yoruba again (Harry Oke-Osanyintolu) and Latin (Julius Reblin with some Horace, and JiWoo Park with the translation) completed the foreign language poems, before the Warden gave a memorable rendition of Hilaire Belloc's 'Matilda', which he knew off by heart.

Finally, another Primary pupil brought us full-circle, with Nikolai Foster reading Yeats's beautiful 'Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven', an appropriately magical end to the evening.