‘DON’T stop believing’ and ‘lessons learned’ are highlighted on the walls of the new extension of Clonaslee College and these words were emphasised by Olympic gold medal winning boxer, Michael Carruth as he performed the official opening of the new extension of Clonaslee College last week.
A large crowd from the school and local community gathered to watch Michael Carruth cut the yellow ribbon at the door of the new extension. Also in attendance were Councillor Mary Sweeney, Laois VEC chairperson, Anne O’Keeffe, Laois VEC CEO, Charles Flanagan TD, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, Cllr Pat Bowe, Paddy O’Hora of McCarthy O’Hora Architects, John Carroll of Carroll and O’Keeffe Builders, consultant Pat Fitzpatrick among others.
A short prayer service and blessing was performed by Reverend Ruth Noble, Mountmellick and Reverend Father Thomas O’Reilly, PP of Clonaslee, before Michael Carruth gave a motivating and inspirational talk which included an account of his boxing career. He spoke of his preparations for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, his dream to win a medal and his disappointments. He recalled his determination to have another go and how he fulfilled his dream in winning his gold medal in 1992. He also encouraged students to go the extra mile and to fulfil their dreams.
Deputy Principal John Lee acted as MC for the day and a host of speakers offered congratulations on the new extension, while tributes were paid to former principal Fran Bates and present principal Noreen Sweeney.
Anne O’Keeffe spoke of the top class facilities of the school as well as their achievements in examination results, job placements and sports. She congratulated the school’s recent All-Ireland basketball winners and paid tribute to past student Alyn Conroy who achieved first place in Ireland in the 2011 Leaving Certificate examination in Construction Studies. She also paid tribute to Brian Blake who achieved second place in Ireland in the 2011 Leaving Certificate Engineering Project.
Fran Bates also spoke on the day and described the efforts involved in securing the new extension. He paid tribute to various planning and design teams as well as the builders involved, as well as thanking the local community for their “vision and commitment”.
Student council chairperson Sean Dalton, explained the Tree of Knowledge jigsaw as a symbol of the various strands of the school community. The jigsaw which was commissioned for the occasion, was assembled by each of the representatives from groups within the school community.
Musical entertainment on the day was provided by harpists Helena Conroy and Blaithin Tynan, the school choir and a group of traditional musicians led by teacher Jamie Dooley.
Principal Noreen Sweeney thanked everyone who attended, in particular Michael Carruth for performing the opening ceremony. She echoed the sentiments of the other speakers and thanks all those involved in bringing the new extension to conclusion.