As a school, we try to actively encourage students and staff to take part in raising awareness of people less fortunate than ourselves. We currently have set up a number of societies within the school which raise funds for their intended Charity. These include:
Saint Vincent De Paul
School Aid Romania
Shoe Box Appeal
Each year, Year 8 pupils participate in a sponsored walk in Gosford Park to raise funds for Action MS – a charity which the school has been associated with for over two decades.
A representative from Action MS speaks with the Year 8 pupils prior to the sponsored walk to inform them of the condition and how the charity helps to provide and co-ordinate a range of services and activities.
The walk this year raised £2377.60 with four pupils raising over £100 each. We were also privileged to welcome Action MS Chief Executive Ann Walker to the school in October for the presentation of the cheque.
As a Catholic Society of young people we are humbly inspired by the words of Frederic Ozanam, Founder of the SVP Society, who said: “In my life I want to become better and do a little good”
In 2003 we set up the first school conference of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in SPGS. It began with a membership of 40 students.
Most of them were involved in the weekly visitation to a local Nursing Home. This weekly duty has been kept by our students every academic year since. As well as that, the Society has grown to address many different areas of charitable life, both in the local and international communities. In November 2010 the Armagh conference of SVP began working with us on The Visitation, accompanying students on a fortnightly basis.
We attend the National Schools’ Conference on an annual basis as well as local conferences organised. We have hosted a local conference, with groups from three other schools attending. (St. Colman’s College, Newry, St. Paul’s High School, Bessbrook and St. Catherine’s College, Armagh).
Every year we coordinate the Christmas Hamper Appeal. These hampers are collected by the local conference of SVP in Armagh and distributed to local families. This whole school appeal continues to grow and develop, with students and their families donating generously.
Whilst the Society is predominantly made up of students from Years 13 and 14 there are a number of junior students who also play an important and active role in our work. These students make a special visitation to the Nursing Home before Christmas where they present a short festive drama, recite poetry and play music. They also take up the duty of visitation from the seniors when the latter are preparing for their public exams.
Our members felt that they wanted to commit some time and energy to an international project also. In 2005, therefore, we decided to sponsor a child in Niger, through World Vision. This project is open to involvement from students in all years. Many teachers are also part of this scheme. Such was the success of this project that, the following year, we began to sponsor a second child in the same town. This means that any extra money we make through fundraising can be donated to the community of both those children. Since those projects have ended we have begun to sponsor two children in Senegal.
In recent years students have worked hard to raise funds for the work of the Society by Bag Packing at a local supermarket, helping to organise Coffee Mornings and running the Belfast Marathon.
As a Christian Society we are mindful of the importance of prayer in our work. We also meet as a group at the beginning of term and at the end of year for a Prayer Service. In the past some members of the local conference have joined us for this morning of reflection.
At the beginning of the academic year, senior students are elected to various roles of responsibility in the Society. These are the roles of President, Vice-President and Committee members. These students assume the task of coordinating different areas of the Society’s work, depending on their area of interest and meet with the teacher responsible on a fortnightly basis.
Since the inception of our conference, we have seen exemplary leadership and admirable dependability which, coupled with each individual’s creativity, has brought an ever-changing dynamic to our group. This dedication is recognised annually at Senior Prize giving, where one student is awarded the Henry Murray Cup for outstanding contribution to the work of the charity. As a group we look forward to the future with hope and commit ourselves to work to promote the values of the founders and patrons of this charitable organisation.
School Aid Romania was set up in 1990 with two main aims: to assist children in need in Romania and to bring together Year 13 pupils from different schools and different communities in Northern Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Grammar School first participated in the project in 1993 and has been an active member since. Each year the school visits the Brasov area and while there the students are actively involved in projects in schools, orphanages and hospitals. They also work with the homeless on the streets and with poor families in a number of small villages. The students undertake a number of fundraising events before departure in February. A considerable amount of money is spent during the week in Brasov and other programs are supported by these funds throughout the year.
The students of St. Patrick’s Grammar School have always taken a keen interest in those less fortunate than themselves in living out the aims of the School’s Mission Statement to “Develop as a community that appreciates the Christian values of co-operation, responsible conduct, earnest effort, compassion and mutual respect.”
In association with Road Of Hope – charity number XR88313, Year 8 students got behind this venture with their usual enthusiasm, keeping within the aim of the appeal, “Give a present to someone who needs it!” The appeal was co-ordinated by our Year 13 students who visited year 8 Form Groups each morning during Registration to collect any shoeboxes brought in. Year 13’s also assisted in the labelling, checking and wrapping of the shoeboxes to ensure appropriate items had been included.
Suggested items for the shoebox appeal included:
Toiletries (NO TALC)
• Soap/Shampoo/Shower Gel
• Face Cloth/Moist Wipes/Sponge
• Moisturising Cream
• Sanitary Products
• Toothbrush Toothpaste
• Shaving Foam/Razors
• New Make-up
• Sewing Equipment
• Household Candles
• Notepads/Colouring Books
• Small Toy
(Best before date, at least March of next year) NO CHOCOLATE
This year 161 shoeboxes and over 300 pounds were collected in St. Patrick’s, which is a magnificent achievement. The students realised that they will have a very positive effect on the people of Eastern Europe this year. This is in keeping with the Religious and Educational Philosophy of the school which has a, “Special concern for the poor and under-privileged.”