COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of thousands of events across the world, but the global pandemic has not stopped a small primary school in County Galway from holding its annual Open Day online.
Situated on the foothills of ‘Knockma’ in Belclare, Castlehackett National School has just 63 pupils, three teachers, two special education teachers and a special needs assistant.
The annual Open Day is one of the highlights of the school’s calendar, and Principal David Reilly came up with a creative solution to showcase the school in the midst of the pandemic.
David decided that the best course of action would be to create an online school tour by reusing walkthrough footage recorded in an empty school in June and adding a voice-over!
“We are a co-educational school catering for children from 4 to 12 years of age, we adopt a holistic approach to education, focusing on the social, emotional and spiritual education of each child,” said Principal David Reilly.
“Our Open day is an annual highlight and normally our chance to showcase the amazing work done by our Teachers and Students.”
He explained that something people may notice is that there is the sound of children in the background of the video, despite no pupils being present.
“It’s a noise you’ll hear in every school across the country,” he said, “and a noise we as teaching professionals miss out on these days.
“This was added later to give ‘visitors’ the real impression of what it looks, sounds and feels like to experience Castlehackett National School at its best.”
Castlehackett National School even has its own pre-school ‘built-in’ – Tiny Tots Preschool and Homework Club.
The team consists of Thelma O’Reilly, who is the manager of the brilliant service, as well as Linda, Karen and Madeline. The staff are all qualified, vastly experienced and Garda vetted.
Although it is a small rural school, Castlehackett has no shortage of ‘wow’ factors. Each classroom is equipped with laptops, overhead projects, fibre broadband and has an Apple iPad ratio of one per two children.
The school has two basketball courts, a full GAA pitch and a running track. Construction is also under way to build a new all-season, all-weather astro turf pitch.