Éinín O’Boyle has just finished her first year in one of our Buncrana schools, Crana College, making history along with all our first years this year, by starting post-primary school in the middle of a global pandemic. In this blog Éinín tells us about her first year in terms of expectations and how it turned out.
When we were filling out the enrolment form in December 2019, I had no idea that my first year in Crana College would be so different to what I had imagined. I was very disappointed to find out that we were not getting a transfer day, after speaking to older students telling me how fun it was.
I had no idea what to expect on my first day. Our tutor explained that this year was very different for new first years. As well as getting used to a new school, timetable and subjects we also had to get used to a whole new set of rules due to COVID-19. Social distancing, wearing a mask and santising took a while to get used to, but our teachers were very good at making sure that we followed them. I was most worried about having to wear a mask all day. Surprisingly I got used to it pretty quickly with the help of mask breaks. Occasionally after a mask break, people would forget to put their mask back on, and the look of shock on their face when they realised made us all laugh! Because of the pandemic, first years did not get lockers this year. At first I found this quite hard as I had to carry all my books with me all the time, but boxes were ordered for our form classroom which made it much easier. We did not get to take part in lots of school events that normally take place such as the trip to Belfast, the usual Christmas festivities and being part of the open day for the people in 6th class.
We managed to get through the first two terms quite well and I had gotten used to my new school routine. While we were all relaxing on our Christmas holidays, we got the shocking news that we wouldn’t be returning to school for another few months. This meant we had to move to online learning, which was all new to me. I had to get used to using google classroom more often, submitting work on time, and of course our live lessons on google meet. It was the first time that we saw what our teachers’ faces actually looked like, which was quite surprising, because some of them looked different than what we had imagined! Everyone (including the teachers) had to get used to this new way of teaching. Sometimes technology let us down, which was frustrating, but we got through it. Our form teacher was very good to us all year, and when we were working from home, we did little things like bring your pet to class day, quizzes and bringing a cup of tea and a biscuit to our SPHE lesson, which really brightened up our day. Although I really enjoyed online school because it was more laid back, I did start to realise that this wasn’t real life and it was going to come to an end. I started to miss normal school life especially seeing all my friends and classmates and having a good laugh.
It was a relief going back to school after Easter, even though I was dreading the early start. It didn’t take long to settle back in again. I know that this wasn’t a normal year, but all the teachers and staff made us feel so welcome and helped us make the transition from primary to secondary school. I am so grateful for everyone’s hard work to keep us safe and can’t wait to experience what normal school life is like in the near future!