By Suzanne Pender
BORRIS Vocational School officially opened its new €1.7m extension this week, marking a new chapter in the school’s development.
The honour of cutting the ribbon was performed by cllr Fergal Browne, chairperson of Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board (KCETB).
Borris Vocational School’s 508m² extension is comprised of three classrooms, staff and student bathrooms, a special education class and an autism special class called Le Chéile.
Designed by Dermot Geoghegan Architects and built by Nolan Construction, the extension will cater for the needs of the school’s 542 students and 60 staff members.
Borris Vocational School is under the auspices of KCETB and the happy occasion took place during the inaugural ETB Week, a week-long celebration of KCETB’s students, staff and services to mark ten years since it was established.
Cllr Browne and Eileen Curtis, the chief executive of KCETB, were welcomed to the event by Pat Coffey, principal of Borris Vocational School. They were joined cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere, chairperson of the school’s board of management, cllr Tommy Kinsella and other members of the board of management.
Other attendees included KCETB’s director of schools Dr Pauline Egan, director of OSD Liam Scott and head of corporate services Triona Delaney, who were intrinsically linked to the progress of the project.
In his welcome, Borris Vocational School’s principal Pat Coffey said it was fitting that the official opening of this new extension coincides with the celebration of KCETB’s tenth anniversary and the inaugural ETB Week.
“This week celebrates the core values of excellence in education, care, respect, community and equality. We were lucky enough to host a showcase of these core values for all KCETB schools last May, and today we build upon that day with this celebratory event marking all that is great about this school community,” said Mr Coffey.
“A huge part of this new extension is Le Chéile, a welcoming hub for teaching and learning, where all are celebrated. We are delighted with the success of Le Chéile, which is co-ordinated by Catriona Duggan. Its success is attributable to our teaching staff, SNAs, parents and the students all working collaboratively,” said Mr Coffey.
“Every student at Borris Vocational School has different abilities and aptitudes and we value all of these here in our school through inclusive practices such as encouragement, praise, constructive feedback and development. Over the past two years, nine students have received over 600 points in their leaving certificate, with two of these receiving maximum points,” added Mr Coffey.
Speaking at the ceremony, KCETB chief executive Eileen Curtis said it was “a significant day for the staff and students of Borris Vocational School and for the Borris community.
“This new extension reflects the commitment of KCETB and the school management to providing the very best facilities and resources to the students in our care. This facility will serve Borris Vocational School well as it continues to grow and serves the needs of its students and the local community.”
In his address, cllr Browne said he was am proud to open the new building at Borris Vocational School, to celebrate and formally acknowledge the breadth of provision that the new extension provides.
“It will go a long way in providing all students with equal opportunities to engage with the curriculum and with school life.”
Borris Vocational School students were central to the event, with many student leadership teams participating in the opening, co-ordinated by acting deputy principal Sarah Doyle.
Traditional music was performed under the direction of music teacher Aoife Smithers as part of the ceremony.