AVS Newsletter – Mon 10th Feb.

Abbey Vocational School 3rd Feb – 9th Feb 2020

Information Night:

  • TY and LCA programmes and subject Options for students going into 5th year.
  •  Tuesday, 11th  February 2020 at 7 p.m
  1. An overview of the LCA Programme will be given at 6.30 pm for those interested. 
  2. Talk for Parents of 3rd year students commences at 7 pm on the TY Programme. 
  3. Talk for Parents of TY students takes place at 7.40 pm on Subject Options for 5th year. Parents of 3rd year students can remain seated if they wish to listen to a talk on this area or if their child is progressing to 5th year.

Scholarships for our past pupils!

Congrats to our past pupils Shaneen Graham & Charlotte Timoney on receiving Optum Healthcare Scholarships last night in Rockhill House, Letterkenny. We are incredibly proud of the girls for their achievements & look forward to their bright future.


Charlotte Timony and Shaneen Graham both attended the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town. These two former AVS students have been awarded an Optum Healthcare Scholarship to support them in their studies. 

Charlotte is studying Psychology at NUI Galway and Shaneen, also at NUI Galway, is studying Bio-Pharmaceutical Pharmacy. 

The scholarship scheme is designed to support students in County Donegal who are studying healthcare and technology-related degree courses in the region in line with the Company’s mission to support the local healthcare system, contribute to a more diverse third-level sector and create the healthcare workers of the future.

There was a high level of applications from students across County Donegal and applicants were adjudicated upon by a Selection Panel made up of representatives from Optum’s three partner Institutions- Letterkenny IT, Ulster University and NUI Galway.

Drama Club

Rehearsals are nearing completion for The Abbey Vocational School production of The Good Doctor by Neil Simon, featuring pupils from 2nd, 3rd, 6th year and TY. We have thirteen absolutely superb and committed actors who have been working tirelessly during lunchtimes and after school to create what is promising to be a really special piece of theatre. Featuring original songs composed by TY pupils this show is not to be missed. It will be on ONE NIGHT ONLY at the Donegal Schools’ Drama Festival in Ballybofey on Wednesday 26th February at 8pm. Please do come along to support the cast on the big night.

Last year our entry Chatroom by Enda Walsh came second overall in Donegal with Robyn Harvey-Moulding (6th year) winning best actress. We will be keen to repeat our success this year with another fantastic show.

Watch this space for details of a supporters bus going up on the night and if you are keen to attend get your name in first by giving it to Mr Donegan, Mr McFadden, Ms O’Donnell or Paddy McMenamin.


Shane Martin Talk 

Last Wednesday Shane Martin visited our school and delivered two of his excellent talks. One to our leaving cert students and another one after school to our staff. Shane is a psychologist dedicated to teaching the very best evidence-based psychology to help people protect their mental health and enhance the quality of their lives.

Shane has been a keynote speaker at numerous conferences on a range of topics around wellbeing, positive mental health, recovery and happiness. A leader within the area of education, he has visited hundreds of educational institutions nationwide working with management teams, teachers/lecturers, students and parents.


  1. An info. evening for parents/guardians of Incoming 5th Years regarding Senior Cycle subject choices will take place in the school on Tuesday, 11 Feb. 6.30 -9 p.m. Maria Faherty, Guidance Counsellor will present.  
  2. Leaving Cert students should be working on their DARE & HEAR applications. All online requirements must be completed by 01 March 2020 @ 5.15 p.m. and all paperwork must reach CAO by 15 March 2020 @ 5.15 p.m.
  3. The SUSI Grant application system is due to open in early April 2020.  Further info. will be available to students closer to this time. See www.SUSI.ie
  4. Keep an eye on our regularly updated Guidance website. Go to www.AVSDonegal.com – click on the Guidance Guidance button.  


The English Department has been working with The PDST ‘Well Read National Award’. This is a national initiative designed and organised by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). It aims to create heightened awareness about the importance of creating a culture of reading in school communities for students as part of their personal and academic development.

Teaching & Learning: ‘Students Reflecting on their Learning’

Being able to reflect on one’s learning and learning how to become a better learner are key elements of the Junior Cycle key skills. When students learn to reflect on their learning through dialogue, writing or using a computer, they are developing many of these skills.

Through reflection ‘in’ and ‘on’ learning students can:

  • become more aware of the knowledge and skills that they have developed
  • identify strengths and areas for development
  • develop and action plan for future learning
  • gain greater understanding of themselves and how they learn
  • take more responsibility for their learning

As “Students Reflecting on their Learning” is one of our school improvement targets, our staff are employing a range of strategies to help our students develop the skills to look at their own and others’ work critically and constructively. Such strategies include peer assessment, exit ticket and reflection sheets. These approaches help our students to develop a ‘nose’ for quality and to begin to understand the features of quality in a piece of work. They see areas where they can improve themselves by recognising them in the work of others

TY Peer Mentoring 

This coming week we are looking forward to our TY mentors & Ms. Kelly working with our first years again. The focus of this week’s session will be on positive behaviour. Students  will engage with resources that place students  in various possible scenarios. Our first year students will then advise the best course of action for each scenario and share their findings. 

Well done to all our first years who are engaging so well with our other positive behaviour initiatives in school. At this point numerous students have points allocated to them on our new VSware recording system and we look forward to rewarding these students in due course. Well done all.


PDST Post Primary Maths

Maths Teachers from the Abbey Vocational School gave a warm welcome today to Caroline Collery from the PDST Post Primary Maths Team.


Mary McLoughlin, Pauline Anne Gavigan, Darren Russell and Sean Donegan engaged with students participating in strategies with patterns, tables graphs and generating expressions!

The PDST Maths Team provide school-based support to mathematics departments throughout 2019-2020. This support focuses on developing teaching, learning and assessment practices towards developing students’ proficiency in mathematics and includes:

  • Teaching Geometry for Understanding.
  • Teaching Algebra through the Lens of Functions.
  • Developing common approaches for teaching key mathematical skills.
  • Developing a culture of problem solving in mathematics
  • Using GeoGebra to support teaching, learning and assessment.

The Maths Club 

The Abbey Vocational School Maths Club meets on Fridays at lunchtime in Room 30. The Math Club runs an enrichment programme that focuses on helping Students with Maths. 

Chess Club The Chess Club has resumed on Mondays in room 3 and all new members are welcome! The game of chess is played by millions of people worldwide.  Chess is believed to be derived from the Indian game chaturanga some time before the 7th century. If you have an interest in joining our Chess Club please come along to our meetings as everyone is welcome!

French Department En France, les grèves commencées en décembre continuent et les Français défilent dans les rues afin de protéger le système de retraites, mais le gouvernement ne recule pas.

Student Council 

A Student Council Meeting was held on Friday 30th Jan.  The committee decided they would like to have a representative on the Irish Secondary School Union and voted. A sub-committee will follow up the ISU Student ID card, and the School Council liaised with Donegal Youth Council members in advance of their meeting next week with the Donegal Municipal District Council. They will discuss previous objectives and future goals at this meeting. Traffic congestion and safety of students and drivers was a key concern of our council. The DYC  students suggested a pedestrian crossing at the school which they hope to bring up at their  meeting. 

The council will hold a competition for the design of a ‘Waste to Beauty Bin’ and artwork for the school. They acknowledged the great progress of our ‘Junk Kouture’ entrants and could link the ‘Junk Kouture’ ethos here.

Leaving Cert Mentoring Programme: 

Leaving Cert Students from the Abbey Vocational School will be commencing their Mock Examinations in the coming  week. The Mock timetable is available on the school website. Each Leaving Cert Student has an individual Mentor who had been working with them around the challenges of the Leaving Cert exam and how they individually need to be supported. Thanks to all of the staff in the school who give of their time to become a mentor and to offer such invaluable support to our students at this very challenging time. Mentors will link in with students to see what each student now needs to address in order to be in the best possible place for the exams. Year Head Ms Dillon will be offering ongoing support to all students in her year group also.


Girls Active

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Girls Active is a joint programme between the Health Services Executive North West, Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership, Youth Sport West and is aimed at encouraging teenage girls to participate in sport. The programme was initiated in 2003 and aims to increase the number of teenage girls involved in long-term regular physical activity through developing more supportive environments for teenage girls’ physical activity in school.

Transition Year

Personal Safety

Transition Year Students from the Abbey Vocational School were delighted to welcome Alex Walsh to the school to talk to the students regarding personal safety. Personal Safety Classes provided an opportunity for people to engage in possible real life situations in a safe and professional environment. Learning tools, skills, moves and techniques which  provided them with valuable practical knowledge.


The Personal Safety Programme was not just practical, the learning within the classes was motivated to highlight justification of actions, if deemed necessary, after using certain techniques. The emphasis on attitude and behavior throughout the classes gave participants an understanding of how their own behavior has an impact and influence on any given situation, whether public or private.

The discussion was highly informative, educational and empowering!

Young Social Innovators

Abbey Vocational School Transition Year Students are taking part in the Young Social Innovators Initiative. Students are challenged to look at the world around us and to identify and explore issues affecting us, our friends, our community and wider society. More than just coming up with a solution, students are asked to put that idea into action and to create change. Students will see other perspectives, expertise and creativity to design solutions based on real human experience and need. Students will gain real experience working in a team and develop skills in leadership, communication and project planning and management.

YSI is committed to helping young people to develop  21st century learning skills including: empowerment, ability to seek solutions, Leadership, empathy, awareness of social need, appreciating difference, coping strategies. Social innovation is ‘the practice of using creativity to develop solutions which improve the wellbeing of people and society’


Pictured are Transition Year Students organising Posters for their Bake Sale in aid of their YSI Project. The TY Young Social Innovators Project is a speakout/presentation raising awareness of the effects of reality T.V.  The Abbey Vocational School Innovators spoke with Ray Darcy on Fm104 radio on Thursday the 6th of February highlighting the aims of the inspirational T.V. Project. The initiative has gained 1,800 followers and growing!  If you missed it you can listen the interview at  https://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/html5/#/radio1/11150984

The TY Class of 4D, instructed by Ms Kelly, have launched this enterprising power campaign which aims to highlight the negative impact that social media and reality television can have on the youth of today. The YSI project named “keeping up with reality” went completely viral and has been shared by hundreds of people, including a huge number of prominent social influencers.

The YSI project is centred around the idea of the pressure and pretence that is associated with social media and reality television.  The students love social media and admit that while young people couldn’t imagine life without it they do feel that there is a lot of falseness associated with some reality shows and posts on social media that they struggle to understand what is real and what is fake.

To promote their campaign and spread the important message they called upon influencers to share an unfiltered image of themselves to their stories or Instagram grid tagging them with #keepingupwithreality2020 and #YSIproject 

Junk Kouture

Transition Year Students from the Abbey Vocational School spent the last number of weeks and months perfecting their clothing for the Junk Kouture Competition!

Junk Kouture is a fashion competition using recycled materials, which challenges young people to design, create and model high end couture from everyday junk! It takes in elements of fashion, design, engineering and environmental sustainability and transforms them into a creative contest like no other. Hitting its tenth year running, Junk Kouture has already captivated over 40,000 students, 8,000 Teachers and 100,000 audience members. The whole idea of Junk Kouture is to create striking works of recycled couture that wouldn’t look out of place on the world’s most famous runways or in some of the best Hollywood movies!

Introducing “Lost in Frills” @junkkouture design by TY student Emma Thomas, made entirely out of baling twine – Emma is through to the Northern Regional Finals!



Next up is “Angel of Music” @junkkouture design by TY students Emma Farren, Gabrielle Byrne and Nora Carr, made out of broken CDs and old music sheets! 

The third and final group through to the @junkkouture Northern Regional Finals is “TLC Tweed” by TY students Teelin Casey, Leah O’Donnell and Caoimhe Kerrigan, made out of scraps of tweed from local businesses Magees & Hanna Hats!

 AIB Build a Bank

AIB have introduced their Build-A-Bank programme to the Abbey Vocational School. This programme challenges a group of 6 students to create, market & run a bank within their school in conjunction with AIB. The competing team of Aoibheann Gallagher, Emily McNulty, Savannah Timony, Catherine Whiteside, Eilish McGroary & Darcy Neil will be travelling to the National Final in the RDS in March where they will experience an amazing day out, meet other school bank teams, receive proper and professional feedback on their hard work and ultimately be in with the chance of being crowned Build A Bank Champions and win €5,000 for their school. 

The bank is required to have a creative & unique theme. The theme chosen by our team is Chitty Chitty Bankers & will revolve around saving up for your first car, driving lessons & paying for insurance. The bank will be open twice per week where students can open accounts, lodge money (the money will be stored in AIB for safety reasons) & withdraw from their account. Our hopes for this service will be to inspire young people to take more control over their finances & begin to save for their future!

Transition Year Foroige Leadership Programme

image015Students from the Abbey Vocational School are participating in the Foroige Youth Leadership Programme and will receive a Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action.

The 2020 Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action will be awarded to young people who have completed all three modules of Foróige’s Leadership for Life programme by June 2020.

By registering, AVS Students are committing to having all three modules of the Foróige Leadership for Life Programme completed by June 2020. It is recommended that all participants should have Module 1&2 complete prior to registering for NUIG certificate. It is important that participants have adequate time in between the modules to use and practice their leadership skills. 

Those participating in the programme are asked to provide the name and email address of a mentor. Mentors can be the facilitator of previous modules, a volunteer, Foróige staff member, coach, teacher etc. 


Donegal Castle Visit

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Transition Years enjoying the beautiful surroundings of Donegal Castle!

Last Friday the remaining TY students visited   Donegal Castle for a tour. While there the group received a very interesting talk on the history of the castle and Donegal town. After the talk all the students went in and walked around the castle. Thank you once again to Sean and all the staff at the castle. 

TY Craft Workshop 

Last Thursday TYB took part in a craft workshop with Morna from Morna’s Patch. During this workshop the students learned how to cross stitch and each student made a bookmark. It was a very enjoyable experience for all the students and they left the workshop with some lovely homemade bookmarks. Morna will be back over the next few weeks to work with the other TY classes. 


TY upcoming events:

Over the next few months our TY students will take part in many activities, a sample of some of these activities and listed below: 

  • Hotel taster day
  • Sports leadership 
  • First Response Course 
  • Balmoral Shows
  • Lough Key Maths Trip 
  • Make up workshop 
  • Personal Presentation Workshop 
  • Internet Safety video production workshops 
  • Young Social Innovators competitions and attendance at event 
  • PE Expo 
  • ETB Awards 
  • GAA Future Leaders


Donegal Sports Star Awards


Congratulations to Best Secondary School Girl Níamh Moohan.


Congratulations to Motor Sport Winner David Kelly, past pupil of the AVS!


Niamh Moohan, Shane Breslin and Ms Michelle Gallagher.

 Special Olympic Ulster Gala 2020

Congratulations to our winning stars at the Special Olympics Ulster Gala 2020 at the Omagh Leisure Centre, Omagh. Congratulations to Cormac Mac Suibhne who came 1st in the 25m back & 2nd in the 25m free. Joe taking 2nd place in the 25m free. Ultan 1st in the 25m back & free. Eoin Rooney came 1st in the 25m back & 50m free.Anthony 1st in the 25m back & 3rd in the 25m free. Ethan 1st in the 25m back & free. John 1st in the 50m free & 6th in the 25m free. Marie 3rf in the 50m free & 5th in 25m free. Anna 1st in 50m fly & 2nd in 25m free.

Super well done to all the Nemo swimmers with a big congratulations to Eimear winning the Fermanagh Herald Special Achievement Award on Friday Night!



TY Sports Leader

Our TY’s have started their Sports Leader training as part of the PE programme. They will get the opportunity to coach their peers, younger students and local primary school during the year. Through this course, students will learn and demonstrate important life skills such as effective communication and organisation, whilst leading basic physical and sports activities with younger students, their peers, and within primary schools in the community. The transferable skills learned will be useful in college, the workplace and life in general.

This qualification in Sports Leadership is run in conjunction with Donegal Sports Partnership. Thanks to all involved.





A number of runners took part in the District Cross-Country Competition this week at Necarne Estate, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh. Well done to all involved.

Special word of mention to Savannah Timony who had a gutsy performance to win gold in the U17 girls race. Mia Mc Calmont returned from injury and showed great form to win gold in the Senior girls race. Kitty Mc Nulty had a strong run to finish 6th in this race also.. 

All three girls have qualified for the Ulster Schools Cross Country final in Mallusk, Belfast next Wednesday 12th February. Good luck to all.


Sportshall Athletics

Good luck to our 1st year girls team who will compete in the County final this Monday in Rosses Community School, Dungloe. The team consists of 12 members who will compete against the top athletes from across the county in a number of running, jumping and  throwing events. 

Boys Basketball 

The first and second year boys had a fantastic start in their league games. So far our 1st year team have played two matches and have been victorious in both against Our Lady’s Secondary School and St Malachy’s of Belfast. Our second year team had a fantastic first game against Summerhill College, Sligo. They have been unsuccessful in the last two matches against Our Lady’s Secondary School and St Malachy’s but have shown fantastic comradery as a team and are training hard in anticipation of the next two league matches which will take place after the mid-term break. Both teams are a credit to themselves and the school.

Girls Basketball  -All Ireland Semi final league

The U16 girls basketball team travelled to the Tallaght Basketball Arena on Wednesday 5th of February. National Basketball Arena, also known as Tallaght Arena, is an indoor sporting arena located in Tymon Park, Tallaght, South Dublin, adjacent to the M50 motorway. The capacity of the arena is 2,500 people and it opened in January 1993.

The girls played a physical game a tough Clonmel side. Both teams fought hard under the boards and really had to work for each basket.  The Abbey were victorious by only one point to progress to the All ireland Semi final once again. 

With only an hour break the girls warmed up to play their second all Ireland semi this season. This time they faced and experienced side from colaiste Bride Dublin. The Abbey were 12 points down after the first quarter but had an outstanding second quarter bringing thr scoreline even for the first time. The girls played some fantastic defense but weren’t making the baskets offensively. Always chasing the scoreline the girls fought right to the end losing only by 8 points. This was the only game the team lost all season. A gold and bronze all ireland medal reflects the talent of this team. Congratulations on your hard work, dedication and for being great role models to your peers and school. 


Gaelic – Boys Senior

Boys lost to St Pauls HS, Bessbrook on Tuesday in Armagh.

The senior boys team were beaten by a strong St Paul’s Bessbrook team.

Their cause was not helped when they were reduced to fourteen players after twenty minutes. The boys struggled in the early stages of the game against the tough tackling Armagh boys.  Fortunately, a lot of the boys will be underage next year and will learn from the experience of playing a higher grade of football. 

Lunchtime Activities:

Our lunchtime SPORTS FOR ALL programme is running every day. Thank you to all the teachers who have volunteered to help run such a large programme. 

There are at least two activities each day, indoors in the sports hall and outdoors on the tennis courts. The timetable is posted on the notice boards around the school. ALL students are encouraged to come out and get active during their lunch break. Students can participate in their uniform but must wear proper footwear/runners.  Please see Mrs. Gallagher if you have any questions.


Girls Active in the Library every Thursday at 3.30pm – 4.30 pm. Zumba is the activity for the next five weeks. All girls welcome come along for an hour of fun and meet new friends. Girls Active is a non-competitive activity. 


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