PORTLAOISE College will be entering into a new era as principal Colette Dunning leavess and hands over the reins to the current vice principal, Noel Daly.
Ms Dunning has been principal of the school since November 2008 and, in her time there, has implemented many changes, as well as helping to bring both academic and extra-curricular success to the students. There have been many highlights over the past few years, not least of which was the school’s recent awards night which was presented by RTÉ host Miriam O’ Callaghan.
Among the many changes made was changing the uniform, and bringing in a school canteen to keep students in at lunch time, which, Ms Dunning, said has “changed the ethos of the school.”
Students have also enjoyed debating success, Gaisce success, and winning the All Ireland spikeball championships among other sporting achievements. A prefect system was set up in the school, and there is a strong student council. This year a number of students from the school travelled to Gambia, as well as fundraising a huge €22,000 for children in need out there.
Ms Dunning told the Leinster Express that she is sad to be leaving the school, but has decided to accept a job in her local town. “It is all about partnership here, the staff are motivated and adaptable and have been on board with all the decisions we’ve made. It is a very positive place to work, there is a real energy here,” she said.
“The kids have also come on board with the changes and have adapted well. They are performing better with structures in place. There have also been timetable and curriculum changes and we have introduced a number of new subjects, including music and chemistry. It is great to see the kids do well and reach their full potential,” added Ms Dunning.
She thanked everyone who supported her during her time in Portlaoise College, including the VEC and CEO Anne O’ Keeffe, the board of management and the parents council.
Mr Daly is excited to be taking over as principal and already plans are in place for new ventures next year, not least will be beginning a new transition year programme, as well as planning and fundraising for the next Gambia trip. “It gives great continuity for the children and their parents as I have been vice principal here since September 2010. I hope to keep the school growing as it has done,” he said.