Internet, Skype and email on the curriculum at forward-looking Tipp school

Cappawhite National School will be 114 years-old next week but the latest expansion of its computer technology facilities shows it's far from being stuck in the past when it comes to providing its students with the IT skills to survive in the age of the Internet, Skype and e-mail.

Cappawhite National School will be 114 years-old next week but the latest expansion of its computer technology facilities shows it's far from being stuck in the past when it comes to providing its students with the IT skills to survive in the age of the Internet, Skype and e-mail.

The 87 pupil school boasts a state-of-the art computer education room that many schools would envy and recently received nearly E6000 funding from the Department of Education to purchase more computers as teaching aids in the general classrooms. It's one example of how the six teacher rural primary school is punching above its size in education and extra-curricular activities with students achieving awards in handwriting and cross country and aiming to achieve the School's third Green Flag for environmental awareness this year.

Principal Alice Flynn said people are surprised when they visit because of the amount of facillities this small rural school has for students.

She says education in the use of Information Technology is an important part of the curriculum from Junior Infants to 6th class.

"The computer room, which has 12 computers, hosts daily computer classes. Each classroom has an inter-active white board and pupils readily use the Internet for research and study purposes.

"Pupils' work is also actively promoted on the school's website,, and we also recently registered to receive Digital School status," Ms Flynn outlined.

Alongside this, she says first and second class pupils have established e-learning links with a primary school in St. Louis, Missouri. They e-mail students at the US school and are planning to use Skype and a webcam to talk to them directly.

Ms Flynn stressed that Cappawhite NS is equally proud of the academic achievement of its students with high results scored in all areas of the curriculum.

More than 80% of students in the school are in the top percentage of students in Ireland for literacy and numeracy knowledge.

She points out that that many past pupils have recently received Pupil of the Year awards in local secondary schools and last year Sixth Class pupil Ciara Eichholz won the top award in the All-Ireland INTO Handwriting Competition when she was in Sixth Class after winning the Co Tipperary final of the contest. Ciara is now in secondary school.

Cappawhite NS students have also excelled in environmental conservation, achieving two Green Flags for litter and energy awareness from An Taisce and are working towards their third Green Flag this year for water conservation.

Students compost all their food peelings, deposit their recyclable waste in separate bins in the classroom and are running a water conservation project in the school, collecting rainwater in collection barrels that is used for arts and science classes.

Ms Flynn said the School ran a Green School Day last October during which students teamed up with the local Tidy Towns Committee to do a litter clean-up around the village.

Fifth and sixth class students have also tried their hand at gardening, planting flower bulbs and trees around the school grounds. Parents were also involved in this project.

It's not all work and no play for the children of Cappawhite NS. Given their community's strong association with the GAA, it's no surprise that hurling, camogie and gaelic football are very popular sports in the School.

The hurling pitch in the school grounds is used by all pupils daily and there was great excitement both among students and the wider community when the Liam McCarthy Cup was brought to the School last October by Tipperary Senior Hurling team member Conor O'Brien and past pupil Donagh Heffernan, who is on the Tipperary U-21 football team.

Swimming and cross country running are other popular sports among students. Last autumn, the school's cross country teams were very successful in the Tipperary Cross Country Athletics Competition.

The third and fourth class boys' team were awarded gold medals, while the fifth and sixth class boys' team won bronze medals in their races.

Another enjoyable part of life at Cappawhite NS are the various cultural activities and outings for students. The school choir rehearses every week and performed at the local senior citizen's party before Christmas. The school Nativity Play at the end of last term was a big hit in the local community. Outings so far this year included a visit to the Excel Centre in Tipperary, UL Concert Hall and NUI in Cork.

Ms Flynn points out that the school has a very welcoming policy towards the parents of its pupiles.

Its dedicated Parents' Room is a place where parents come to help their children with their education through such initiatives as Reading Recovery, an early intervention programme for children with literacy problems.

The Parents Room is also the venue for a very popular Parent and Toddler group on Friday mornings and is where the School's very active Parents Association meets.

Parents Association members run the Parent and Toddler Group, assist with school sports and other extra-curricular activities and do much needed fundraising for the school. A sponsored walk, draw, sale of work and bag packing day are some of the recent fundraisers they have run.

Anne McGrath, acting Chairperson of Cappawhite NS' Board of Management, paid tribute to the work and dedication of all the teachers, parents and students, who contribute so much to this very busy school.