A three-year fundraising campaign, which led to the fostering of a new relationship with several city businesses, culminated in the official opening of Mount Sion’s Secondary School’s new astro-turf pitch and outdoor gym on Wednesday last.
Speaking to The Munster Express, a delighted Principal John McArdle said an initial approach about such a project by Genzyme had led to “a successful culmination for our pupils and the provision of a great new facility”.
Mr McArdle saluted all who had made their new sports facilities come into being, thanking the pupils who had contributed €2 weekly through a no-uniform day initiative.
“Parents were very generous in their sponsorship and we had a particular past pupil (Pat Hurley) who came back and wanted to pay back something to the school in terms of what they had given him: his education, and he was very generous,” he said.
“And we had a range of other companies that got involved with the project – Caulfield’s SuperValu, Ellickson Engineering, Tandem Project Management, IPB Insurance – and we cannot thank them all enough. We ended up with over €80,000 being raised, which was absolutely tremendous.”
The new facility, which, due to planning, can only be used within school hours, also won the support of the Barrack Street and wider community, “and they were fully informed throughout the whole process”.
The ‘outdoor gym’ concept, which has been embraced in public parks throughout the country, is now bringing some pupils into school at 8am, 45 minutes before they’re due to be in school.
“It’s a fantastic product and the pupils love it,” said Mr McArdle. “We’ve got different bits of kit for the pupils which involves the use of different muscle groups and that should compliment our many sports teams, as well as promoting physical well-being throughout the whole student body.”
John McArdle said the past year had been “trying – a great deal of work had to be done.” He added: “There’s been dog nights, cake sales and we had a wonderful sponsored cycle to Callan (the home of Blessed Edmund Rice) at the end of March which was such a success that people want it to continue, regardless of fundraising, because it proved such a great opportunity for past pupils to catch up so we hope we can stage the cycle again in the spring.”
A special hour-long ceremony to mark the opening was held at the Edmund Rice Chapel on Wednesday last, with over 320 in attendance, during which Deputy Principal Bill Doherty referred to “an explosion of optimism” in Cnoc Síon.
See ‘Keyes Side on News 18 for more from last Wednesday’s festivities.