HISTORY was made in Portarlington last Tuesday morning (7 May) when pupils, teachers and staff walked out of St Patrick’s Boys National School for the last time.
Up to 440 pupils, escorted by their teachers, paraded 2.5kms along the road from their old school on Patrick Street to their new building Scoil Phadriag, Cúil an tSúdaire on Canal Road.
The parade was cheered along every step of the way by proud parents, grandparents, other family members and friends as well as former pupils and well-wishers, who turned out to be a part of the historic occasion.
The handing over of the keys to the new premises took place on Monday 29 April. The following day, the pupils were bussed to it from the old school on Patrick Street to have a good look around, see what facilities are on offer and to acclimatise themselves to their new surroundings.
The school’s parents’ council has also been active over the past year or so in various fundraising ventures for a new astro turf sports facility for the school.
As late as the previous Sunday, before the big move, it organised a hugely successful and well-attended Lip Sync fundraising event to help raise funds for the sports facility on the school campus.
The Portarlington Men’s Shed group in the town also came on board when they made and provided new buddy benches for the new playground in the school.
In a letter to their old neighbours on Patrick Street, the school principal Pat Galvin wrote: “The pupils, parents, teachers and staff of St Patrick’s BNS would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for all your support and cooperation for almost 70 years.”
Last Tuesday, the big move took place with a leaving ceremony in the old school before the parade took off on its short journey and wound its way through cheering crowds along Main Street, up Station Road, with pupils from the girls school also coming out waving and cheering as they passed by before entering the new school premises en-masse for the first time.
In a message to the people of Portarlington, Mr Galvin said: “We appreciate that everyone in Portarlington would love to see the new school, so we will be holding an open day for the whole community to come and see our fantastic new school on Saturday 18 May. We look forward to welcoming you all to visit our new school and see our wonderful grounds and facilities for yourselves.
“As I’m sure you will appreciate, this has been a massive undertaking for us and we would appreciate your support and cooperation during our settling-in period,” said the school principal.