It is a special day for 56 young boys in Portarlington as they have made history as the first-ever junior infants class to walk through the doors of the brand new Scoil Phadraig Cúil an tSúdaire.
Principal Pat Galvin welcomed the new pupils and parents to the school at Canal Road, Portarlington this morning and said it is 'a historic and special day'. He addressed the junior infants class and explained to them how important they are in the school's history.
"This is a very special, special occasion for you guys for your parents but also for us in this school because we have never ever had junior infants before in our school, in the history of our school going back 80 years we have always started in first class," he said.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Mr Galvin expressed his excitement for the special occasion.
"It’s a very historic and special day for us, we have never had junior infants before and we are very excited about it.
"We have a beautiful new school, fabulous premises, we are waiting for a sports capital grant to finish our astroturf pitch, we have a running track we are complimented by the local Portarlington GAA Club which surrounds the school so it is like a campus rather than a school.
"We have two full classes of 28 so 56 junior infants enrolling this year. We don’t have the senior infants, we will have the senior infants next year they continued on in the Presentation Primary School for another year just to finish the junior infants' cycle before we will take them in next year.
"Our total enrollment as of today is 527 pupils so hopefully with senior infants next year it will be up around 650. A lot of changes, it is very busy but all very positive and going good," he said.
He spoke about the build-up to the first day and the decision to have a brand new tracksuit style uniforms.
"There was a lot of communication and we had pre-meetings with the parents and getting them settled in, everything is going very smoothly and everyone is prepared.
"We have beautiful new uniforms which we decided to do with the new school and new beginnings, the uniforms are fantastic.
"We went with the tracksuit because of the sporting facilities we have. We didn't want kids coming in with trousers, shoes and jumpers when they would be out running on tracks and playing on astroturf so we went with a classy looking tracksuit so the kids come in and do a lot of sport.
"Everything went very smoothly everyone has a different opinion on different things, you get that when you have a big school but 99% of parents yesterday and the first day of enrollment were really complimenting the beautiful uniforms, they were delighted and very excited about the whole thing. I heard through the grapevine that there were a few issues about pricing and costing and quality but we stand by our decision and it was the right decision," he said.
Andrea Broughan from Portarlington was emotional and excited bringing her son Evan Cullen into his first day of school.
"It is very emotional but we are very excited at the same time. Some days he was nervous, some days he was excited in the build-up to today but now he is excited. I absolutely love the facilities here, it’s a big change and the school needed it so I am happy with it," she said.
There wasn't a bother on little Cathal Fairbrother whose mum Heather said he is 'robust' and well able for starting school today.
"It’s grand, he’s the third one and there’s not a bother on him, he went in and he didn’t even notice I was gone. I think the school facilities are great, we have an older boy here as well. Third time is a lot easier, he is more robust and excited he just runs in not a bother on him," she said.