Monday, June 23, 2008

Filming 'Cracks'

This week the College has been taken over by the film crew of the feature Cracks, from the novel by South African writer Sheila Kohler. Above, filming taking place in the Chapel. Here's the Irish Film Board notice.

On Retirement

On Friday evening, we held our farewell party for our Head of Department, John Fanagan, in the Dining Hall. Our friend, Morgan Dockrell, who taught in the Department from 1975 to 2002, wrote a valedictory poem for the occasion, which starts :-

Hail, John! (a Classic start), your dreaded Nemesis
Arrives to rhyme you off the College Premises.

Click here for Morgan's full tribute.

Friday, June 20, 2008

End of Year

Term finished today, with the end of the Leaving Certificate exams. This blog will feature occasional posts during the summer holidays, but now, again, it's off for two months of rest and reading.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Reading?

Two articles seen recently discuss the possibly new nature of reading nowadays. In the Sunday Times, Andrew Sullivan looks at how 'Google is giving us pond-skater minds' :

The experience of reading only one good book for a while, and allowing its themes to resonate in the mind, is what we risk losing. When I was younger I would carry a single book around with me for days, letting its ideas splash around in my head, not forming an instant judgment (for or against) but allowing the book to sit for a while, as the rest of the world had its say – the countryside or pavement, the crowd or train carriage, the armchair or lunch counter. Sometimes, human beings need time to think things through, to allow themselves to entertain a thought before committing to it.

The white noise of the ever-faster information highway may, one fears, be preventing this. The still, small voice of calm that refreshes a civilisation may be in the process of being snuffed out by myriad distractions.

And on Slate, Michael Aggar looks at the way people read online - bullet points, bold fonts, short sentences and paragraphs, lists ...
  • When we like a text, we read more slowly.
  • When we're really engaged in a text, it's like being in an effortless trance.
  • Ludic (pleasure) reading can be achieved on the Web, but the environment works against you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Next year's book list ...

... is now online here. Parents can order from any shop. We are happy to recommend our local bookshop in Ballinteer Shopping Centre, the Wise Owl. Go to 'Dublin' and then the College's name, and then the relevant year for books in all subjects.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Actiontrack Animoto

Last night our TY ended their course with the annual Showbuild Actiontrack performance. Here's an Animoto video compilation of some pictures. The music is 'Havana Blues' by Adam Burns.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

TY English evening review

This evening our Transition Year finish their year's work with the annual Actiontrack show - more on this, and pictures, in due course. Meanwhile, here is a description of the end of their English course a while back - the annual TY English Evening, written by a III former who next year will be taking the course, Dalton Tice :

The evening was a great experience and a relaxed yet interesting night. It was a fine example of the work opportunities available at St.Columba's during the Transition Year. A high standard of English was revealed among the pupils who took part and presented their pieces, written over the last two terms.

The opening piece was read by Lluisa Hebrero from Spain who has spent Transition Year here at the college. She displayed a very high and impressive level of English. Her essay, "Learning the Hard Way" described her experience of coming to a new school and the cultural shock of a new country.

Poppy Vernon's "Letter to God" was a very humorous and captivating piece and she read it with great charisma and successfully made a tired audience laugh. She was followed by "A Story from Two Perspectives" written by Rebecca Scott. She portrayed the tragic murder of a young woman from the victim's and the murderer's points of view. It was a very effective piece.

The final piece, "Shadows" by Tom Guinness, was a sad and beautifully written account of the memory of Tom's dog. His times of joy with his pet were described in a manner which brought the story to life. It brought a tear to the eye in many of the audience and certainly to Tom's.

These were only a few of the pupils who participated in the evening. Alec Cherry, Mark Kavanagh, Poppy Kirwan Browne, Fred Mann, Kate Haslett and Kaila Korschen all wrote great pieces too. They were fine examples of work in our successful English Department.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Conference and Common Room

The SCC English blog features in the new (Summer 2008) edition of 'Conference and Common Room', 'the magazine for leading independent schools', in an article called 'The importance of being bloggish'. PDF archives are put online here, though the current edition isn't yet archived. We'll link to it when it is. We've previously also featured in 'Teaching English' and 'PC Live' magazines.

Science blogging

Our Science Department colleagues have started blogging on their excellent site : go here for more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Boyd Report, Day 1

Fiona Boyd will be keeping us up to date with the goings-on in the BSR this week, as the Transition Year Actiontrack Showbuild project proceeds (performance on Saturday evening). In her first report, she writes :

10th June 2008 ~ Day 1:

The leaders this year: Nick, Nathan, Rachel & Richard.

We started by having a few warm-up games so the leaders could learn our names and warm our bodies up. Then we spent some more time playing some games in groups. One of these was “Zip, Zap, Bong” which is played in a circle and involves passing along this imaginary energy in different ways. Then our whole year had to move into the shapes of capital letters without being able to communicate in any way with each other. Then we all lined up from tallest to smallest and got paired off into groups where we mirrored each other’s actions.

And then after the mirroring we had to try and hypnotize each other with parts of our body, by making the other person follow the palms of our hands. It was all about controlling your body and learning how to move it carefully. Then we started to do the hypnotizing thing in threes and then fours and the fourth person would shout Stop and would then interpret our frozen frames. Nick, who’s like the main leader, wrote down the interpretations and then we were given say four ideas to bring together in a mini-improvisation play. After each group had performed we broke up for lunch.

After lunch we returned to write songs. After being given some key tips on how to start a song we split in to pairs and we were given a title, which had been a memorable line from one of the improvisations earlier. I worked with Lauren Meyler and the name of our song was “I look like him”. We wrote our songs and then performed them to the rest of our year. You could choose to sing or read the lyrics. This was a really interesting activity because everybody had to try it. At the end we handed in our lyrics to the leaders for them to work on.

Then later on in the evening we met for a music session where we wrote down the chorus to eight sings with titles ranging from “King Kong’s Playtime” to “You Don’t Hold the Rhythm my beating Heart”. During the afternoon the leaders had adapted and improved our lyrics to music. This was a really fun evening and everyone really enjoyed themselves. No one cared whether you could sing or not, and it was nearly more fun if you couldn’t. Overall our first day went really well and everyone is really excited about the rest of the week.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Actiontrack Showbuild Week

Tonight the Actiontrack team from Somerset arrive for the annual Showbuild Week with our Transition Year, culminating with the show itself at 8.15 pm on Saturday in the BSR. From tomorrow they'll be working with almost 40 IV formers morning, noon and night in creating an entire show from scratch, and ending up with an acting, singing, dancing spectacular.

As with last year, one of the participants will be letting us know what happens each day.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tim Winton's 'Breath'

We've previously recommended the Australian writer Tim Winton's recent short story collection, The Turning. His new novel, Breath, is also set in a vividly recreated Western Australia, and, like many of the short stories, examines the nature of male adolescence, as the narrator (now a paramedic) looks back at how he grew up in the company of his crazy best friend Loonie, and how they interacted with the charismatic Sando and his mysterious wife Eva. Winton is particularly good at capturing the infatuations of the narrator, Pikelet, not the least of which is with surfing, and about which he writes :

How strange it was to see men doing something beautiful, something pointless and elegant.

The book goes on to examine the nature of how our selves cohere and harden, especially at moments when we may turn out to be either ordinary (like most) or extraordinary. The idea of 'breath' runs through the novel, from the tragic opening scene onwards. Winton's writing is always crisp and evocative, capturing the unforgettable and unforgotten physical exhilaration of young boys. The whole, relatively short, novel is itself an exhilarating and sometimes breathless ride through damage and regret.

See the author's Breath micro-site here, with MP3 readings, links to reviews and more. Below, the official trailer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Certificate exams

Good luck to all our candidates who today start their exams with English in the Sports Hall. VI open with the Leaving Certificate language paper (the literature one is tomorrow), and III also start with English this morning and this afternoon.

Monday, June 02, 2008

As life flies on ...

In today's London 'Independent', Johann Hari has an article in his opinion slot about the value of poetry in modern life :

We all live in a state of permanent partial attention: we check Facebook, eat breakfast, watch the TV and yell for somebody to feed the dog all at the same time. Poetry doesn't allow you to do that. Its quiet, still voice demands you listen to it slowly, alone.

And he proposes Clive James as Britain's next Poet Laureate, to succeed Andrew Motion :-

Poetry needs a great salesman, because in our whizzing speeding shoving lives, its moments of careful pause are more important, not less. Appropriately, the words of a poet – Emerson – made this point best:

"For most us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts."