Abbey VS Newsletter Mon 28th Sept

AVS Notes 21st-27th September 2020

Irish Offshore Rowing Championships

The Abbey Vocational School is very proud of two of its students who were to compete in the Irish Offshore Rowing Championships at the weekend with their club Donegal Bay, Cian MacSuibhne and Michael O Boyle.

Unfortunately, the Championships have had to be postponed but will be held in the near future. The Championships were originally due to be held at Portnoo Beach hosted by Loughros Point Rowing Club. As a result of Covid-19, Loughros Point had to withdraw as hosts, the Irish Offshore Rowing Committee confirmed that the Championship would be hosted in Kerry by Portmagee Rowing Club. We wish our students the very best of luck in their future challenge!

Student Voice

The Student Council has had two meetings in September.  The council that was elected last year will remain on to continue their work as their year was cut short. They did however take on several support activities during lockdown in the final term of the last school year including messages of support and encouragement to the student body and the AVS Active Globe Walk/Run.  New First year members will be elected from Class Captains through an online election next week.

The council is very pleased to congratulate its members India Kennedy and Frank Duffy on their appointments over the summer.

India was appointed Donegal Regional Officer for the Irish Secondary Students’ Union.  She produced a wonderful guide to positive Mental Health, ‘How’s Your Head’ with the assistance of the ISSU, West Cork Mental Health Services, DETB (Geoffrey Browne), Ombudsman and Office for Children.  This has been taken up by Spun Out, Secondary Schools and other groups.

Frank was appointed to the DETB Youth Work Committee.

He and Aodhán McCrudden are on the Donegal Youth Council as well as others who have completed their leaving cert.  Elections will be held in the first term for new representatives from our school, who will serve a two year term. The Council has decided on Positive Mental Health in light of Covid as their theme for this year.  They will work on several initiatives and events throughout the year to support our students.

There have been many new changes this year understandably, many of which have already become the normal day to day procedures.  The council wishes to thank management for working these things out to protect all of us and also to congratulate students for doing their best. Finally we would like to remind all of the Students that the Student Voice Box in the assembly area is there to be used to voice any concerns. 

We congratulate our team of Prefects for 2020/2021 and our Head Boy Frank Duffy, Deputy Head Boy Thomas White, Head Girl Rosin Feeney and Deputy Head Girl Niamh Moohan. Prefects: Katelyn Duffy, India Kennedy, Shane Meehan, Tom Daly, Chris Darby, Emily Gallagher, Caitlin Ward, Aoife Green, Ella Ford, Mikaela Mc Connon, Cathleen Gallagher, Marie Mc Girr, Annie Mc Groary, Joe Campbell, Gavin Browne, Aodhan Mc Crudden, Gwenaelle Ni Dhonnabhain, Shona O’Brien and Hannah Crawford.

If Unwell, Stay at Home

The AVS are operating  an ‘If  Unwell  Stay  at  Home’ policy. Should a  member  of  our community  experience  any  of  the  symptoms  of  Covid-19  –  High  temperature,  shortness  of  breath, difficulty  breathing,  that  member  of  our  community must stay at home  and  seek  appropriate medical  intervention. 


Students  will  have  monthly  tests  and  all students will have Christmas Exams as well as Summer  Exams. Third year and Leaving cert students will also have Mock Exams  as usual. Should  we  ever  be  in  the  unfortunate  situation  of  facing  school  closure  again, students have their google classroom codes set up, and are up and  running.  


If a student is absent from school then a note for the dates of the absence must be submitted to the office upon the students return. Alternatively we will accept an email to This email must clearly state the name of the student, the year group and it has to state clearly the dates that the email is referring to. The attendance record of the student can then be updated with this information.

Evening Study

Evening study has started for the first term of school at a reduced capacity, and in line with regulations. Study started on Monday the 14th of September for 6th years only for the time being.

New Homework App!

The Abbey Vocational School is delighted to announce the introduction of the New Homework App. For  the  safe  handling  of  written  work,  all  students will be trained how to download the app and then use it to upload their scanned homework to their google classroom assignments. This will mean staff receive a pdf of written work/evidence that they can annotate/give feedback on thereafter. A short tutorial to support  this  has  been  recorded  from  the  students  perspective  for  both  android  and  iOS phones.

Career Guidance

Leaving Certs: 1-1 appointments are available throughout the week; speak to your Guidance Counsellor for booking instruction.

Be sure to keep an eye on our regularly updated Guidance website. Go to – click on the Guidance button on the far right of the screen.


Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s poetry competition

Ms O’Donnell will be running the Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s poetry competition in the coming weeks. Ireland is renowned for its literary and cultural heritage, as well as for its generosity in supporting those in need around the world. Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s annual poetry competition brings these two elements together in a creative way, using the arts to raise awareness about the leading global justice issues of our time. This competition is unique, because poets are invited to explore a different global development theme each year. The competition is also free to enter.

Great Reads Award

This year students from the Abbey Vocational School will participate in the ‘Great Reads Award (GRA)’. The ‘Great Reads Award’ is an Award judged by students for debut writing for Young Adults. Presented by the School Library in Association in the Republic of Ireland and short listed by librarians and teacher-librarians. The short list titles offer a range of reading levels and interests, by authors from a variety of backgrounds, including an Irish language title for which a glossary is available.


AVS Maths Teacher Mr Russell is running the CSO maths competition in the coming weeks. The goal of the competition is to improve students’ abilities to describe their environment with the help of statistics and to use statistics as a tool for making sense of daily life.

School Canteen

This year the Abbey Vocational School has introduced the new pre-order system with the school canteen in collaboration with ‘Get Fresh’. ‘Get Fresh’ is a new cardless system which will see a cashless system in place. An email has been sent to all parents with the leaflet attached explaining the setup process. The menu shown online is currently what is available in school for the students. Do not top these cards up as you are still paying by debit/credit card currently.

Step by Step Instructions for Pre-Order

  1. On your PC, laptop. Smartphone or tablet, go to website
  2. Click [sign up] – fill in required details
  3. Click [create account]
  4. Enter account key – from your card
  5. Click continue – your account is now set up
  6. Logout of
  7. On your PC, laptop , smartphone or tablet go to website or go to website and click on your school crest and it will take you direct to your school pre-order page
  8. Select the name of the school your child attends (you do not need to do this if you  used the link from
  9. Select the morning break or lunch menu for the day you would like to order for. You can order for both at same time
  10. Select the products you would like to order
  11. When you have selected all the items you require proceed to checkout
  12. Confirm all is correct and hit next
  13. Complete all fields on the order details screen including ticking the box to indicate if your order is for morning break, lunch or both and hit next
  14. On order summary check again all is correct, tick the box to confirm acceptance of terms and conditions then hit pre-order 15. On the billing screen insert the card details for the debit/credit card you are paying with, then hit pay & pre-order to complete the payment
  15. You will receive an email confirming your order and order will be ready for collection at the agreed date and time.

Teaching & Learning

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, during 2020-2021 we will continue to focus on developing our school improvement targets in developing Learning Intentions, Success Criteria and provide time for students to reflect on their learning. However, to support students in the progression of their learning in socially distanced classrooms and unusual circumstances, we are adapting some further strategies. Our teachers and SNAs are exploring and using a range of digital technologies to create new opportunities for learning, teaching and assessment.

Our students are already familiar with Google Classroom and they will be further encouraged to use a variety of digital technologies for building their knowledge, to source, critique, and manage information and to reflect on their learning. Examples include using Google Sites to create e-portfolios, digital mind-mapping and working in virtual groups. For further information, please see ‘Learning & Teaching’ on our school website.


Staff from the AVS enjoyed a surfing session this week organised by the schools wellbeing committee. The weather may have cooled but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Abbey Vocational School Staff!

Positive Wellbeing Week

Preparation for the Abbey Vocational School’s positive wellbeing week has begun. The students’ wellbeing committee have started putting plans in place of the week which will take place from the 5th-9th October 2020.

Peer Mentoring

Last Thursday, 39 Transition Year students attended induction training for Peer Mentoring with Jim Sheehy in the Parish Hall. The programme is run by Ms. Kelly and will involve the mentors meeting with 1st year students during lunchtimes to support them in their transition into the secondary school environment.

Peer Mentoring has a valuable impact on both the lives of the mentee and the mentor. It allows the mentor to be a positive role model, to improve on their own personal skills and feel a sense of pride helping others. Peer Mentoring allows the mentee to grow in confidence, become more content in their new school environment and know that they have someone to talk to if they need any support.

The main benefit of the Peer Mentoring Programme is that the TY students themselves have already lived through the transition experience from primary to secondary school. They can give students their advice and guidance to allow these students to adapt and feel content in their first year at the AVS.

Transition Year

Drama Workshops

As always, with the busy Transition Year Calendar, students have been engaging in Drama Workshops. These have been taking place in the Parish Hall with the guidance of Theatre Thespian Rachel O’Connor. Drama and Play helps build confidence, helps concentration, aids the development of language and communication skills. It encourages children to cooperate, supports numeracy skills and helps students to understand the world around them. Drama also develops emotional intelligence and assists physical development and it enhances students’ artistic and creative abilities and gives them a better understanding of themselves and their world. Drama further fosters self-discipline, confidence and team work and develops skills in interpreting, researching, negotiating, problem solving and decision making.

TY Surfing

Every Tuesday TY Students take part in the exciting activity of Surfing. Held at Rossnowlagh Beach Transition Year Students get to enjoy the natural beauty of Rossnowlagh Beach and engage in an exhilarating pastime! Surfing provides many health benefits including: cardiovascular fitness – from paddling; shoulder and back strength – these muscles will strengthen from the paddling; leg and core strength – once you’re standing up on the board, strong legs and a strong core will keep you up.

The Bluestack Walk 2020

A number of our Transition Year Students took part in a 16km Bluestack mountain walk this week in the lead up to national walking day. It was a lovely day out where the students got to appreciate the beauty of our local area and also got to see some of the history surrounding the area such as the Carnaween Mountain, ancient graveyard at Disert, Greg Mare’s Tale and much more. Well done to our students.

Foróige Workshop

This week the Transition Year Students engaged in the Foróige Workshop in the Parish Hall. Foróige is a youth development organisation engaging over 50,000 young people and 5,500 volunteers. Foróige is a force for good in communities across the country. The Foróige approach to youth work is underpinned by a strong philosophy which states: Each person has unique qualities and attributes. Foróige believes that creativity applies to many aspects of life: solving problems, organizing, the arts, communicating, caring for others. The ethos for Foróige Team in taking responsibility – we always have a choice: in what we think, do and become. Foróige also believes in being interdependent with others – we develop through relations with other people. We achieve more by working together. In making a difference to the world, each person has something important to contribute to making the world a better place.

BT Young Scientist

Hoping to replicate the amazing success of last year, AVS Science Teacher Ms Furey will be working again with Transition Year Students in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.

In 1963 two physics researchers from the University College Dublin, Dr. Tom Burke and Dr. Tony Scott, came across the concept of ‘Science Fairs’ while conducting research in New Mexico, USA. The pair decided that this type of hands-on science was something that students in Ireland could benefit from. And so the Young Scientist Exhibition was born.

TY Team

The TY Leadership Team for the year is TY Coordinator – Mr C Hegarty, TY Year Head -Mr Plunkett. TY Core Team – Ms P Rooney, Ms L Kelly, Ms L O’Donnell & Ms E O’Mahony. The  Mission  of  TY  is  to  promote  the  personal,  social,  educational  and  vocational  development  of  pupils  and  to prepare  them  for  their  role  as  autonomous,  participative,  and  responsible  members  of  society.  During  the  year  the students  will  take  responsibility  for  their  learning  and  will  develop  strategies  in  active  and  experiential  learning which  will  help  them  to  become  better  students. There are many aspects to the AVS Transition Year Programme:

  • Teaching  and  Learning;  It  is  our  intention  to  make  every  effort  to  bridge  the  gap  in  learning  for  students  in  TY  this  year  due  to  the  COVID period and a strong emphasis  on academic work will  also be very much part  of  the programme  this  year.
  • Work  Experience: During  Transition  Year,  the  students  will  gain  some  valuable  insights  into  the  world  of  work  through  our  work placement  programme.  The  work  placements  take  place  over  two  separate  one  week  slots. Each  student  is  expected  to  find  his  or  her  own  placements  with  an  employer  in  a  suitable  area  of  work.  This should  be  done  in  consultation  with  their  parents  and  the  Career  Guidance  team.  Every  effort  should  be  made  to find  work  placements  which  are  relevant  to  any  plans  for  a  future  career.  Students  are  encouraged  to  start  planning for  their  work  placements  and  have  an  idea  of  where  they  might  like  to  apply  to  when  they  return  in  September.
  • Workshops: There are many workshops in the TY Calendar such as Zeeko, CSI, Architecture, Law and Online Safety. The many workshops,  events,  projects  and  other associated  aspects  will  go  ahead  as  usual  under  the  present  guidelines. In  order  to  allow  many  of  these  events  and  activities to go ahead  under  the  present  regulations  the  Bosco  Centre  and  the  Parish  Hall  are  booked  for  use  when  the  need  arises.
  • Trips: Students  will  take  part  in  a  number  of  trips  throughout  the  year  where  it  is  possible  under  the  current  guidelines. The  first trip  to Gartan Outdoor Education Centre took place on 10th of September  for  TY D, the 11th September  for  TY C, the 16th  September for TY B  and  the  24th  September  for  TY A.
  • Parallel  Project  Groups: As  part  of  our  TY  Programme  we  will  continue  to  ensure  that  all  of  our  students  take  part  in  the  many  projects and  competitions  that  are  on  offer  such  as  The  Young  Scientist  and  the  Social  Innovators  as  well  as  the  many   local  research  projects.  All  students  will  be  assigned  to  a  specific  project  group  under  the  supervision  of  an allocated  teacher.  The  students  will  be  part  of  the  research  class  on  a  rotational  basis  to  ensure  that  they  all  take part  in  various  aspects  of  the  programme  in  this  format.  
  • Calendar: TY Work Experience: Dec 7th  to 11th December inclusive and Feb 3rd to Feb 12th  inclusive. These dates are provisional pending  Covid  matters.  The Bonding Trip: 10th,11th,16th  and  24th  September.  (Class  Groups)  and our TY Performance  Event:  January  2021
  • ePortfolio: An  eportfolio  is  an  electronic  portfolio,  which  the  students  will  use  to  keep  a  record  of  all  their  work  from  the year.  They will  design  their  own  web page  containing  all  their  work  and  then  summit  it  to  their  tutor  at  the  end  of the  year.
  • Assessment: Students  will  be  assessed  on  an  ongoing  basis  throughout  the  year  by  their  class  teachers.  Assessments  in  line with  best  practice  will  be  blended  and  may  consist  of  project  work,  practical  assessments  or  class  tests.  Students will  receive  a  report  from  their  subject  teachers  as  part  of  their  Christmas  assessment.  The  final  TY  assessment will  include  an  interview  and  a  presentation  of  each  student’s  ePortfolio.  Students  will  receive  details  of expectations  and  success  criteria  for  this  assessment  in  due course.

TY Bonding Trip to Gartan

This week saw our final TY class head on their bonding experience at Gartan. Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre has been providing courses and training in adventure activities since 1988.

Set in the heart of the ‘coolest place on the planet’ on the shores of Lough Gartan in County Donegal and a stone’s throw from Glenveagh National Park. Transition Year Students enjoyed the tranquil surroundings and relaxing ambience. AVS Students had an amazing experience and made memories to last a lifetime!


Lunchtime Activities September 2020

Students  in  the  Junior  years  who  remain  on  the  premises  at  lunchtime  in  addition  to  their  walks will have  the  activities at lunchtime. Thank you to all the teachers who have volunteered to help run such a large programme.

Our activities programme will run for all junior years from Tuesday, 29th September. All activities will be non-contact and following current guidelines. Our main priority is the health and safety of everyone involved.

  • Activities will last 20 minutes in total.
  • Monday to Thursday: 1.02pm – 1.22pm
  • Friday: 12:24pm – 12.44pm

This allows for students to have 10 minutes to eat at the beginning of lunchtime in their base room and 10 minutes at the end of lunch to return to their base room and get organised for the next lesson.

We have tried as much as possible to assign students to their chosen activity. However, due to guidelines and limitations for space, students will not get all their choices straight away.

All other students will have the opportunity to go outside and walk during this time with their base room teacher. Each base room has a list of where students are to go each day.

Please note, students can participate in all activities in their school uniform but are advised to wear/bring appropriate footwear.

Please see Mrs. Gallagher if you have any questions!

How to Wear your Face Mask

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