Students from Ireland visit Booth Memorial in Newfoundland
by Danielle McC., Booth Memorial High School, St. John's NF
There has always been a connection between Newfoundland and Ireland. Our ancestors lived in Ireland, and most of our traditions sprung from the Irish.
Through the years, the bond between Ireland and Newfoundland has not been as strong due to the distance between the two. However, through the wonders of technology these days, Newfoundlanders had the chance to interact with teenagers from Ireland - a country we have continually shared strong similarities with.
It all began with a program called STELLAR Schools. This program created by a collaboration of Cable Atlantic and STEM Net in 1995, with the purpose of making all schools accessible to the Internet and multimedia tools.
In 1997, Booth Memorial High school in St. Johnís Newfoundland hosted a ceremony in celebration of the launch of STELLAR Schools in Ireland. People and political figures from both Newfoundland and Ireland communicated through phone, video, and Internet links.
The association with Booth and the Irish was continued when students attending Christian Brothers School Tramore, in Waterford County, Ireland and students in Booth participated in the technological links such as The Irish Connection in May of 1998, and Continuing the Connection in October of 1998. Also in October, the President of Ireland Mary McAleese came to Booth to experience the privileges in technology Booth Memorial has to offer.
I spoke with Mr. Gillard, Technology Teacher at Booth Memorial regarding the Stellar Schools Program and Booth's involvement with CBS Tramore. Here are clips from that interview (sorry: the video/audio on these files are not the best so turn up the volume on your player)
Booth Memorial and the Irish Connection
Stellar Schools and Connectivity
Technology in Schools
Booth Students visited CBS Tramore
In early April of 1999, nine students and three teachers from Booth visited CBS Tramore and got to meet each other in person for the first time after a year of contact made solely through the Internet and video conferencing. On April 14, 1999, the two schools created a link between them using video conferencing equipment. Booth students visiting Ireland were able to talk to their friends and family back home. The purpose of this trip was for junior students of both schools to plan future projects together that stress the use of technology available to them.
CBS Tramore Students visit Booth Memorial
Recently, three teachers and 13 students and two teachers from CBS Tramore had an opportunity to visit Newfoundland for one week. This was a chance for Ireland to explore the highly developed technology resources and techniques we have here.
On October 30, 2000, the guests arrived eagerly in Newfoundland. Each student from Ireland was assigned to live with a student from Booth. This provided each Irish student with an outlook on how Newfoundland teenagers live. As a group, they all participated in common recreational activities typical young adults from all over the world enjoy. Such as, ice skating, glow bowling, shopping, going to movies, and so on. There were also visits to Newfoundlandís popular tourists sites like Cape Spear and Cabot Tower, which were thoroughly enjoyed despite the rainy and foggy weather! Although their excursions werenít all fun and games! Each student had to write an article about a different place they visited which will be posted on their web site that details their trip, and includes pictures to corroborate the main attractions that were seen.
While at Booth, the students from CBS Tramore sat in on various classes that Boothís curriculum provides, including the advanced technology courses which aided the students in the construction of their web site. (Schools involved in STELLAR Schools programs must complete three Internet based projects each year they are involved with the program. This is to ensure that the students are making the most out of this opportunity, and the resources incorporated with multimedia networking.)
In an interview with one of CBS Tramoreís teachers Mr. Pierce Walsh, he discussed the differences between the two school systems, the cultures, and the difference between the people themselves:
CBS Tramore is an all boys school with an all girls school only about a ten minute walk away. Their students integrate between schools for specific classes, similar to what students from Booth and Bishops College do. Their school system consists of second cycle students, ages 12 to 17 years, and fifth or sixth cycle students. A passing grade on exams in Ireland is 40 percent. The students spends three years working towards what is called a Junior Certificate. Each class is 40 minutes long, and they have no recess break.
Booth has three levels also(grades 10-12). At the end of your third year, you must have acquired a minimum of 36 credits in order to graduate. Which ideally means 14 credits per year. The school week is Monday to Friday, operating on a seven day cycle. There are five instructional periods during the day (including lunch and 15 minute recess), which are 55 minutes long.
The students coming from Ireland say that there wasnít much of an adjustment coming to a new country. However, compared to schools in their home town, Booth seemed confusing to find a way around. Technologically, there is no big contrast between the places. Except that cable modems are more available here, and in Ireland 56 Kís are the popular Internet connection choice. Also, in Ireland their steering wheels are on the opposite end of the car, and they drive on the opposite end of the road, then Newfoundlanders do.
Mr. Walsh says that when you come down to it, thereís really no difference between the sets of students. The distinct accents is the only discrepancy between the Newfoundlanders and the Irish! They may live in different countries and have slightly contrasting schedules, but everywhere you go teenagers face the same problems, whether it be drinking, drugs, or sex. Part of this tripís purpose was for the students to relate to one another about these problems, their lives, and other things. It was also a way to give two groups of people an experience that was new to them. For those living in Ireland, the experience was to live in another country for one week. For those living in Newfoundland, the experience was to allow a stranger in their home, and help them to adjust to a new place. For both sets of students, the added benefit to this trip was making new friends who face the same pressures of growing up, and perhaps gaining a new perspective on them.
The Final Day
As the final day was coming closer, the realisation of it all was sinking in. The departure of the boys from CBS Tramore was rapidly approaching. Their final day in Newfoundland arrived on November 3. It was a tearful good-bye at the airport. As they had to board the plane, the Booth billets and their Irish borders embraced each other, leaving promises of visits, phone calls and e-mails. As one Booth student remarks about the visitors that were here, ď Seven days wasnít long enough, Iím going to miss them so much!Ē Itís clear the Irish students felt the same way. Adrian Payne from Waterford County says, ďI canít wait to go back there someday!Ē