Querrin National School children highlighted various aspect of Chinese everyday life to visitors, as an end of year project, in the past week.
According to school principal, Geraldine Keating the choice of China as a country to research came as a result of a couple of observations from the children. First their wonder at the thousands of products with the ‘made in China’ label and second their interest in technology.
With that in mind they decided to begin the journey of learning about the country. Each child in the senior room (3rd to 6th class) selected their own topic from industry, agriculture, technology, space, customs, traditions, religion, food, music, transport, clothing and sport. The junior room (junior and senior infants, first and second class) were involved in group work that included researching animals, types of cars, dress and food.
The classroom was transformed into a sea of red, colour, music and Chinese aromas. Children and staff dressed in Chinese red and/or wore a piece of clothing with a difference. Each pupil had their own display stand. On each stand, the visitor found a power-point presentation on the chosen topic. Also on the table were many written ‘amazing facts’ about China.
The highlight of the construction phase for the pupils was the building of The Great Wall. Individual design was evident on the day and enjoyed by all invited guests. Children were encouraged to be creative and to produce their own perspective on the project.
Children researched Chinese food on the internet and produced some delicious dishes such as home-made fried rice, noodles, rice and vegetable in fresh pineapple, sauces, nuts, chicken fried rice. Each pupil was able to provide a discourse to the visitors and guests as they made their way from table to table listening intently and learning while strains of Chinese music filled the room.
Pat Breen TD presented the principal with genuine Chinese tea, a selection of pictures of the Chinese landscape and a photo of himself with the now President of China, Xi Jinping, who visited a farm in Sixmilebridge.
Seán McMahon, president of INTO spoke about the excellent presentation by the children and their enthusiasm about their research. He spoke to the staff and parents of the positive role small rural schools have on the education of pupils and their role in bringing and sustaining life in the local community.
The front school windows artistically depicted Chinese scenes including the panda, Great Wall, Chinese dress and Chinese lanterns. These will remain on the windows until September.
In keeping with the role of the school in the community, Querrin NS supported local tourism through window art. All of the west windows support the effort to increase tourism to the area. The big window has Loop Head Lighthouse, Pure Camping and Carrigaholt Dolphin Watch. Other windows depict the local horse riding school, Kilkee golf, Kilbaha cliffs and signposts showing directions to many of these. The window display is the work of local artist, Mark Kelly.
Geradline Keating, in her role as school principal, feels that small schools offer additional educational opportunities.
“As principal of a small rural school I see the benefit of our school size. There is time and space for projects, interaction with and interest in the local community and happenings. Currently the rural community as a whole is under threat as a result of emigration and movement within the local community,” Geradline said.
“To this end, we, the school community and local community must look at the big picture and, as a holistic group in the peninsula, work together to come up with ideas that can assist us in sustaining our local schools into the future. Rural schools are facing challenges, closures and amalgamations. By supporting our local school we can at least try to retain the benefits of a small rural school for as long as possible so that children can be taught in reasonable size classes, and so that more children can enjoy the benefits of a project like this where fun and learning go hand in hand,” the school principal pointed out.
“Supporting our local schools is also one avenue by which we can retain life in rural areas. People are less likely to move to an area that does not have a local school. At Querrin NS we have sought to simultaneously embrace a country half way across the globe while knitting and intertwining it into our own local community of learning,” Ms Keating concluded.