A Laois secondary school found a special way to get around Covid-19 crowd restrictions to mark the graduation of their 2020 Leaving Cert students.
St Mary's CBS in Portlaoise found plenty of room in the stand at the county GAA grounds, O'Moore Park on September 24.
Award recipients were Thomás Dunne (Student of the Year), Sean Okoye (the From Each his Best award) and Dylan Kerry (Martin Conroy award).
William Oxley gave an entertaining speech in which he noted it wasn’t a common occurrence for a Timahoe man to be addressing the crowd in O’Moore Park. Cian MacGearailt sang the Class of 2020 out to the moving lyrics of ‘High Hopes’ by Kodaline.
The staff have thanked Portlaoise GAA and all who helped to give the boys a great send-off.
"If one good thing has come from the global event that is the coronavirus pandemic, it is an appreciation of what we can achieve when we work together. Community was never more important.
"The staff of St. Mary’s CBS would like to thank their community in Portlaoise for making it possible to honour their Leaving Cert class of 2020 with the age-old tradition of graduating from second level education. Having worked with these remarkable young men for 6years, their teachers were unwilling to see the boys leave the CBS without a proper send off.
"The graduating Class of 2020 will always be able to say that they graduated in style becoming the first group to graduate in the stadium of O’Moore Park on 24/9/20," they said.
Martina Murphy was on the graduation organising committee.
"Finishing secondary school is a developmental milestone in a young person’s life and the Covid-19 pandemic took so many other key moments form the lads, we didn’t want them to be robbed of graduating too," she said.
Strict social distancing measures were enforced and national public gathering restrictions adhered to, with unfortunately no parents permitted to attend.
"The CBS spirit was alive and well that Thursday evening in O’Moore Park and these young men will hopefully carry that forward with them as they begin the next chapter of their lives. It was regrettable that the parents could not attend the event on the evening, due to Covid restrictions, but if they had been present they would have witnessed a group of resilient, hard-working, good-natured, well-mannered young men gather together for one final laugh," she said.
"Sometimes the real value of education can be obscured by exam results. At the CBS we applaud our boys on their exemplary results and we want our students to appreciate that while the school work is important and the homework has to be done, they will learn so much more from their time with us than could ever be written on a test paper. It was a privilege to work with the lads and see them grow and develop over the course of their secondary school careers," Ms Murphy said.
The teachers in the CBS have the following message for their graduating class of 2020
"Don’t ever forget the days you had in the CBS. Remember the laughs you had, the matches you won, the loses you overcame, the songs you sang and the teachers you challenged! Above all remember how lucky you were to have made good friends, and make the effort to stay in touch. It’s true what they say, the school days are the best days of your life, and the CBS will always be there for you.
"Congratulations to St Mary’s CBS, and the Class of 2020, who are most likely one of the only schools in the country who got to celebrate this momentous occasion this year. It is a great story the students will be able to tell others for years to come. Against all odds they succeeded. It just goes to show, you can’t keep a good thing down!" the CBS said.