off in county final of
junior debate contest
By Stan Henderson
PORTLAOISE College and Scoil
Chríost Rí went head to head
as county finalists in the junior
library debating competition at
county hall recently, with the
former coming out on top.
Second-year students from
both schools gathered in the
chamber of Laois County Council
to debate the value and future of
the printed book. Adjudicators
cllr Mary Sweeney and director
of the Laois Education Centre
Tony Mahon were complimentary
of the high standard and encouraged
the teenagers to pursue
debating as a way of developing
new competencies and confidence.
Proposing the motion, Scoil
Chríost Rí raised issues such as
tactile experience, independence
of technological infrastructure
and the possible health implications
of over-reliance on screens.
On the other side, however,
the students from Portlaoise
College extolled the opportunities
for learning and expression
created by digital alternatives to
Later, when the subject was
open to the floor, everyone had
a contribution to make. One girl
spoke about the potential of
e-readers for people with various
She also said that the book
had survived other technological
threats such as television and
Librarian Suzanne Carroll
said: “We were delighted that
the students were so thoroughly
engaged with the topics
at both stages of the competition.
The standard was particularly
remarkable, since the
competition was for second-year
They have shown themselves
to be critical readers
and thinkers with well-formed
opinions of the world around
them. They are a credit to themselves
and to their teachers, their
families and their schools.”
Ms Carroll congratulated Portlaoise
College as the winners.
Recipients of the best individual
speaker prizes went to
Tara Donovan from Scoil Chríost
Rí and to Kevin Dillon from Portlaoise
We were so excited when we stopped in the space centre in Belgium. We went to our rooms to unpack then to the simulations room. It was so frightening! I was put on a chair that was being held up with rope and a massive bucket of water! The simulation turned out to be zero gravity, it was the 1st simulation. The instructor told us what to do and what not to do; then we were both up on the zero gravity chair. It felt like I was hanging there but I was floating there – I was terrified if I grabbed the bars it would bring me up higher! It was fun but time was up.
We moved on to the moon/Mars walk, it looked so scary! It was my turn – I put the VR head set on. The instructor said “jump” so I did; I was on the moon! It felt like being on a trampoline, but in virtual reality. Same for Mars but I was near the 360 Wheel barely. I had to throw a straight line but I was spinning upside down, side to side, back to back, front to back, all around the place – I even did 3/4 front flips and back flips. It was the most amazing feeling! It felt like jumping out of a plane, it was so cool!
Then the space sickness simulation; so basically you are on this chair and you are spinning around and around again and again but your eyes have to be closed. If they aren’t it won’t work. It seems faster than it really is. At the end my eyes were still going around and around by themselves! It was so confusing & cool – I had no control of my eyes for about 7 seconds! It was like my eyes were dizzy but not me! It was fun.
Then the rocket work shop – we made rockets and locked them. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… they were off like a rocket! One by one, flying in the air and ejecting their para-shoots and landing in the trees or grass. It was fun.
Then the Wulíbì theme park in Belgium; it was amazing! All the rides were amazing – I went on the bumper cars and the really tall water slide. The drop was amazing, it scared the crap out of me! Then we went home.
I’d like to thank our parents, gardens and teachers for planning the trip, bringing us on the trip and letting us go on the amazing trip.
Thank you from 1st year and 2nd years,
By Gearóid Henderson.
The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) hosted a series of regional JCSP Make A Book exhibitions this year in collaboration with local education centres.
Portlaoise College participated in this year’s event in the midlands region – this took place in The Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise, Co Laois on Thursday 30th March 2017.