Lego, baking, sports and board games are just some of the 29 afterschool activities being enjoyed this year by pupils of Portlaoise Educate Together NS.
“The school is more than just a school, it's a learning and social centre for children to grow and to try a variety of activities,” said principal Sinead Ahern.
Darach Kennedy, 4th class teacher, organises all the after-school activities, which kicked off last September.
“In the first block we had African drumming, homework club and sports club for first and second class. Visual arts, knitting and Gaelic gootball was offered for third and fourth class children, and hurling, science and Irish dancing for fifth and sixth classes,” he said.
Many of the same staff provided tin whistle and Gaelic football to first and second classes in the spring term, with board games, knitting and sports club for third and fourth, and hurling, visual arts, lego and homework clubs for all children.
More activities have begun for the summer term.
“Homework club continues, with new additions of athletics, baking and snooker/pool being very popular. We also have soccer, craft with beads, rounders, active club and board games,” said Darach.
The school in the Summerhill campus is continuing an after-school soccer programme for infant classes, with Sylvia Gee from the Portlaoise Soccer Academy.
“Shay Dooley comes in to teach basketball in association with Laois Sports Partnership, Paul Brady coaches rugby as a Leinster Regional Development Officer and Paddy Knowles will be doing GAA in association with Park/Ratheniska GAA Club,” said Darach.
PETNS also has a daily infant after-school group for families with children in both infant and senior classes, so that the children can finish school at the same time, making collections easier.
A big drawback however is the lack of a playing pitch for the campus. To help raise the final €20k needed to build it, it is hosting a Gala Ball on June 17 in the Killeshin Hotel, with music by Portlaoise band Transmitter. Tickets on sale, two for €80, from the school office 057 8664823.
“We invite all the local community to come along as it is sure to be a great night,” Darach said.