By Kevin Blessing
As we head into the final week of August I have been reflecting a lot and reminiscing on my primary school days at St Patrick’s National School in Drumshanbo. Do you remember your first day in school?
I remember certain parts of my first day, like the excitement in our house which had gathered momentum over the previous weeks. I was looking forward to this new activity in my life. I had been carrying my new lunch box in my first ever school bag around our house for many days beforehand, pretending that I was heading off to school, the reality of the first morning of school hit me when my mum took me by the hand to walk me to school for my first ever day.
My sisters Colleen and Sylvia were already heading into first and second class at that time and walked with us. On our walk to school that day I was really nervous as I didn’t know what to expect, unlike many school kids today we didn’t have pre-school, playschool or crèche’s to ease us into schooling in 1980. My heart was thumping as we entered the school corridors; I was a real bundle of nerves as my mum introduced me to my first school teacher, Mrs Mc Gonigle.
As I entered the classroom I noticed some sand in the corner of the room, a big smile must have lit up my face as Mrs Mc Goinigle told me I could go and play in it and unknown to me at the time my mother headed off home. Mrs Mc Gonigle was a brilliant teacher and she let me and some of the other children play in the sand as she waited on the rest of her baby infant students to make their way into the classroom, which included; Kevin Lee, Walter Campbell, Diarmuid Mc Gonigle, Cabrini Moran, Aisling Fee, Dermot English, Kieran Dowler and Glen Mc Gowan to name but a few. That’s my lasting memory of my first day in school, if only I got to play in the sand everyday while I was a student of Saint Patrick’s National School in Drumshanbo.
Every August I would be looking forward to going back to school, it wasn’t because I was a studious student, far from it! I got a new school uniform every year and I loved the way everything was shinny and new, from my schoolbag, to my lunch box, pencil case, pencils and new school books. Even to this day every time I buy a book I love the scent of that new fresh smell it always brings me back to my youth.
Our mother would cover our school books every year to protect them from ware and tare during the school year. Our books would be covered with nothing but the best of wallpaper by our mum every year. I think our mum saw it as a great opportunity to wallpaper a different room in our house ever summer as the excess paper would be used to cover all our books. Some of my classmates would have their books covered with the wrapping of a white sliced pan; I always thought they looked a lot cooler in comparison to the flowery wallpaper I had on mine.
Family involvement in school is crucial to our children’s success, but for many busy parents, making time to support academic success can be a challenge. It can be easy to assume that your child’s education is the sole responsibility of schools, but remember that education is most effective when families and schools work together. By practicing a few simple steps for preparing your kids for school, and doing what you can to encourage learning outside of school, you’ll be helping your child succeed in school. I always hated doing homework but in our house there was no TV switched on until we all had our homework finished.
When growing up my aunts and uncles and indeed my grandparents and parents would always be telling me ‘Enjoy your schooldays Kevin as they are the best days of your life’. Its only when you look back you tend to agree with them. I had some great days and memories from my school days, special memories such as receiving my Holy Communion and Confirmation spring to mind. Along with the year when Seamus Walsh Captained our football team that won the school league in 1988.
When my teacher called me by my full name, ‘Kevin Blessing’, I always knew I was in trouble! In class one day I really liked the girl who was sitting next to me which was a little awkward to say the least. She passed me a note saying ‘she liked me’, I was on a high!
I wrote back ‘I like you too’! The teacher who was fairly sharp, spotted what we were at and came down to table investigate; she picked up our notes and read them out to the whole class. Embarrassing to say the least as I turned as red as a tomato. Later that lunch time the girl approached me in the school yard to tell me that the note she had giving me was for my best friend Donnacha sitting on the other side of me!
As punishment for talking or acting up in class, I spent many a day sitting in the corner of the classroom facing the racks where we hung our coats.
I suffered a lot from a sore wrist during my primary school days from writing out lines, another form of punishment, I will not talk in class again……(100 lines!).
Three of my nieces, Abi and Millie Mc Gourty and Katie Scollan as well as my nephew Oisin Lynch, will head to school for the first time this September. I wonder will they be as nervous as I was on their first day