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St Anne's Community College chaplain, Karl Torpey, who organised a farewell video for Leaving Certificate students. Photograph by John Kelly

St Anne’s farewell video attracts huge response

A NEW farewell video marking the graduation of Leaving Certificate students from St Anne’s Community College has attracted in the region of 8,000 views on the internet.

School chaplain, Karol Torpey has revealed the school has received very positive feedback from people who have watched this video since it was posted on Monday, May 11.

“Parents and students have commented and sent messages and other schools have contacted me to say it was excellent. It gave everyone a lift in a week we needed,” she said.

“We wanted to say goodbye in a way that was proper. We get the know the students for six years and love them like our own. Sometimes teachers know students more than their parents because we spend so much more time with them during the day.

“We end up in discussions on their own views about what is happening in the world. Students always have a special place in teachers’ heart. Even the ones who might be troublesome by the time they get to Sixth Year, you wouldn’t part with them,” she added.

Ms Torpey decided to shoot the farewell video to mark Leaving Certificate students’ departure from St Anne’s in view of the fact the school was unable to host a graduation ceremony due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

In fact, this graduation ceremony where students receive a certificate to state they have completed their second level studies from principal, Aideen Walsh was due to take place last Friday.

The video features teachers passes a graduation candle, which is described as a “flame of hope” from one to another to the lyrics of “From a Distance” sung by music teacher, Fiona Ryan.

Ms Walsh stated on the video it was a pleasure to watch all the Leaving Certificate students grow into young adults from their time in the school and

“I know it is different this year but we are there to help you along the way,” she stated.

It also includes a few amusing bloopers from teachers while they were making the video, which has prompted a lot of laughter from viewers.

In the past, the school, which has about 560 students, has compiled a slide show of students’ baby, First Year and Leaving Certificate photographs to mark their transition in life.

Parents, siblings and grandparents are invited to enjoy a celebration party in the school canteen of baked goods and hot food.

Ms Torpey, who was appointed as school chaplain in September 2018, explained this is the biggest event the school would hold throughout the year.

The Feakle resident commuted the long drive to Kilrush for the previous 16 years while she was school chaplain for Kilrush Community School.

Her main task is to look after students spiritual and overall well being and help them address any concerns that may crop up during the school calendar year.

While there is a perception that nuns or priest take on the role of chaplain, nowadays, Ms Torpey explained it is mainly lay people who fulfil this role to look after the needs of students will all different types of religious faith and those with none.

“It is more of a counselling role nowadays, there is a lot of one-to-one consultation dealing with different problems such as bereavement.

“Any school celebrations are organised by the chaplain.

Even though St Anne’s is closed due to the lockdown, Ms Torpey is still dealing with a huge volume of contacts from 8.30 am to 9pm at night.

With huge number of parents now working from home, she explained that some students don’t have access to information technology until their parents are finished work.

In fact, she pointed out most of the staff are now working longer hours during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The school’s pastoral care team has been in regular contact with parents and students since St Anne’s closed.

The school uses Microsoft teams so a student can send a message to Ms Torpey using this information technology and then she contacts them to help address a particular concern.

It includes a private chat function, which allows a teacher to communicate with a student on an individual basis, if this is required.

She said students are missing their friends and the routine provided by attending school.

“School is a very safe space for a lot of students. School is their routine and what they know. We all complained about going to school when we were teenagers but it is the one constant for teenagers.

“The anxiety levels of students has increased during lockdown. Anxiety levels peaked during the uncertainty surrounding the Leaving Certificate exams.

“Students were upset about the speculation in the media in the week before the announcement was made to cancel the Leaving Certificate exams. Students were still trying to study and take part in classes and keep focused while all of this was going on in the background.

“We have an unhealthy obsession with the Leaving Certificate and this year, it was just off the scale,” she added.

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