latest news

National Drop Everything and Read Challenge 2021

by Kathleen Moran

Register your support for DEAR here

Following on from our enormously successful 2020 National DEAR Challenge – where we had over 342,000 registered participants – we are once again inviting the entire nation to take time out to join our 2021 Challenge and to ‘Drop Everything and Read’ for 20 minutes at 12 noon on Friday April 30th 2021.

2021 will be our 6th National DEAR Challenge and we hope to make it bigger and better than ever.

The simple idea is to promote the importance of literacy and to spread the joy of reading for pleasure by having as many people as possible read at the same time on the same day. With over 342,000 registered participants last year, our aim is to have an even higher participation figure this year. So show your support and register here.

Work will be put down, computer screens will be turned off, and everyone will be encouraged to pick up a book, magazine, newspaper, e-book, audio book, etc. and to read quietly, or indeed be read to, for 20 minutes (or more!).

DEAR Ambassador Áine Ní Ghlinn (Photo credit: Ger Holland)

We are delighted to welcome the current Laureate na nÓg, Áine Ní Ghlinn as our DEAR Ambassador this year. Áine is the first Irish language writer to be awarded the honour of Laureate. For more information about Laureate na nÓg, go to

View Áine’s promotional videos:

Give our children the joy of reading as Gaeilge as well as as Béarla


The main focus of this National DEAR Challenge is to draw attention to the importance of reading for pleasure. If reading is to become a lifelong habit then young people must see themselves as participants in a community that views reading as a significant and enjoyable activity.

When is DEAR celebrated?

The official time and date for DEAR Ireland 2021 is 12 noon on Friday April 30th.

Can DEAR be celebrated at a different time/date?

Of course.  If you cannot participate in DEAR at the official date and time, then please show your support by registering and taking time to read on a date and time to suit you.  DEAR can be celebrated at any time on any day, or better still, every day!

What do I need to do to participate in DEAR?

All those planning to participate in the 2021 National Drop Everything and Read Challenge (individuals, families, schools, organisations, companies, etc.) are asked to register here

Then all you have to do is read!


Registration Form – click here to register for DEAR 2021

DEAR Ambassador Áine Ní Ghlinn – check out these promotional videos from DEAR 2021 Ambassador Áine Ní Ghlinn:

Follow the campaign on Twitter @dear_ireland and share your comments, photos and video clips on Twitter, Instagram, etc. using the hashtags #DEARIrl and #LetsGetIrelandReading or email to

DEAR Ambassadors

DEAR Supporters & Participants

latest news

EIRSAT-1 Space Art Challenge

The EIRSAT-1 Team in UCD and JCSP Libraries have come together to create the Space Art Challenge. This exciting new space-themed art competition is open to students in JCSP schools across Ireland

Free video tutorials with artists Helen Robinson, Jessica Erkal, Aidan Courtney, Emer O Boyle and Alan Nolan will be posted weekly on the JCSP Libraries YouTube Channel HERE – commencing on the week of February 22nd 2021. Each artist will demonstrate their own artistic style, following specific space-themed prompts and they will also share tips to support students to develop their own artistic knowledge and skills. 

The challenge requires imaginative thought and can be enjoyed by students in all year groups. The aim is to support young people to develop their artistic practice, creativity, originality and self-expression through exploration of the wonders of the universe.

Ready to join the challenge?

  • First, introduce your students to the challenge by sharing links to the poster and promotional video.
  • With your class, watch or share the artists’ video tutorials. These will be released weekly from February 22nd to March 22nd 2021. Once released, the videos will remain open on our YouTube Channel throughout the Challenge and can be watched at any time.
  • Follow our Twitter and Instagram accounts for regular updates and artists tips.
  • Encourage your students to sketch, draw or paint their own space-themed pieces. They are free to use the artists’ prompts or their own ideas for inspiration. All entries must be space-themed.
  • During remote learning, where students are not in school, you are welcome to adapt the challenge to fit your needs, inviting students to watch the videos, and sharing the resources with them. You may wish to ask them to take the Space Art Challenge as part of their home learning.
  • We would encourage schools to share and celebrate samples of students’ work via the school website, social media channels, etc. throughout the weeks of the Challenge – using the hashtags #SpaceArtChallenge #EIRSAT1 #jcspLibraries
  • The closing date for entries is 23rd April 2021 – so lots of time for students to develop and refine their work.
  • The competition is open to Junior and Senior Cycle students in all JCSP schools.
  • All entries must be submitted via the school and using the official entry form. Students should not submit entries directly.
While students in all schools are free to access the videos and are encouraged to produce art work based on the prompts, the competition itself is restricted to students in JCSP schools.

How to enter

Take a photo or make a scan of all of your student entries and send them to along with a copy of the entry form detailing your school and participating students details.

The closing date for entries is 23rd April.

Winner selection and prizes

Winners, Runners Up and Highly Commended will be selected in the following 3 categories:

  • Category A: Junior Cycle
  • Category B: Senior Cycle
  • Category C: Special Needs

Great range of prizes including Telescopes, Star Projectors, Space Lego, EIRSAT-1 Merchandise, Books, Art Materials and more

A selection of the submitted artwork will be included in a digital gallery

Meet the Artists

What is EIRSAT-1?

EIRSAT-1 is the Educational Irish Research Satellite 1. A team of academic staff and students in University College Dublin are designing, building and will operate Ireland’s first satellite. It is a 2U CubeSat being developed as part of the European Space Agency’s Fly Your Satellite Programme.

The EIRSAT-1 project is carried out with the support of the Education Office of the European Space Agency under the educational Fly Your Satellite! programme



by Joe Kelly

The links between Kevin Mc Dermott and Trinity Comprehensive School have been strong for many years now and this bond was further strengthened in the past year through an innovative trilingual, international creative writing initiative.

The JCSP Library in Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun, Dublin

The residency saw Kevin work with a group of thirteen students in our school library over the course of a number of weeks. Students were selected based on their interest in creative writing and the group was made up of twelve second year students and a single student from Transition Year.

As a way of setting a theme, Kevin introduced the young writers to the powerful words of Greta Thunberg and together we reflected upon the climate disaster that we have brought about through our disregard for the environment.

Kevin Mc Dermott with Trinity Comprehensive School students

Free writing exercises were an important part of these workshops as the students were encouraged to write in a way that was as much physical as it was mental. They were asked to tap into their thoughts and let these words, images and ideas flow onto the page as they appeared to them in their minds. This approach meant that the writers produced work that otherwise may have not seen the light of day if they had had the time to plan and reflect as they wrote. Within these many lines of writing, Kevin taught them to recognise gems and nuggets that lay there shining and waiting to be discovered.

We have long had links with Vimmerby in Sweden and teachers and librarians from both countries have visited each other to learn about methods that may not be prevalent in their respective educational systems. It was decided that students in Astrid Lindgrens skola would shadow us and produce their own pieces of writing based on Kevin’s workshops. It turned out to be a fortunate coincidence that Greta Thunberg was helping us on this creative journey. In the days before apps like Zoom took over our lives, the workshops transmitted via webcam now seem almost prescient.

Kevin Mc Dermott with Trinity Comprehensive School students

As the residency progressed Kevin helped the students to edit and refine their writing. With many hours of his own time given up to this project at home, he selected a short poem or fragment which each young person has the right to be very proud of.

Meanwhile, our Swedish friends were experimenting with writing and translating between English and Swedish. This provided us with the inspiration to look at ways to incorporate writing in Irish. The JCSP librarian sat down with each writer and used the haiku as a frame to create an echo (macalla as Gaeilge) of the original poem based on their English one. This was a fascinating experience as we looked at ways the imagery and sound had to be adapted to better fit another language. Sometimes, the poem in Irish provided inspiration for a further poem in English. Below we see examples of the process in poems written by Ellen Kennedy:


Deep within the forest
I hear the wind.
Its howls are lonelier than ever.
It sounds so hopeless

Dear Earth,
Let us open our ears
To the cries of the wind.

Sa Choill

                                                      Go domhain sa choill
                                                      Glamann an ghaoth uaigneach.
                                                      An gcloiseann tú í?

The Lonely Wind 

Deep in the forest,
The lonely wind howls for now.
Do you hear her cries? 

Kevin enlisted the help of Jo O’Donoghue who helped to tidy up the translations and provided useful advice on possible edits.

It was planned at this stage to introduce a visual element to complement the poetry whereby the students would take photographs which would provide a background for their poems when they were displayed. We also hoped that the students would record their poems also. Unfortunately this was not possible as schools closed in March. However the project continued. Photography teacher Brigid Dunne and Kevin himself provided images to match the mood of each poem.

As it wasn’t practical for the students to do so, Irish language poet Ciara Ní É recorded each of the poems and which Kevin then spent many hours editing and fine-tuning to produce the short and beautiful poetry audio-visual presentations that we are all now so proud of.


Listen to all of the poems HERE


Meanwhile our friends in Sweden were busy working on their own poems which had been inspired by Kevin’s workshops and writing prompts. Such was the enthusiasm there that the students produced a bilingual book of poems in English and Swedish called Words. Some extracts from this wonderful book by the young poets Niklas and Amanda are included below:

Best Time of Day

This is the best time
 Of the day
 When I ride
 My bike
 Into the forest

Bästa tiden på dagen

Det är den bästa
 Den friaste tide
 På dagen
 När jag kör
 Min cykel
 I skogen
 Och tittar på enduro 

My Soul Sings

My soul sings
 My soul makes the melody
 My soul sings to the world

Reflecting on the project, the class English teacher Beata Ringström praised the students for the “bravery” students displayed by simply sharing their work.

Students from Astrid Lindgren Skola, Vimmerby, Sweden

In Sweden, unlike Ireland, it is commonplace for schools to have a librarian. Similarly to the JCSP Library Project where librarians often guide students and encourage them to write, in Vimmerby Lena Andersson filled this role. As a former writer for a newspaper, Lena understands the importance of having a mentor to encourage young people and went on to say that “the professional guidance of Kevin Mc Dermott gave students the courage to rise above themselves and deliver true poetry. While exchanging texts with others has opened their eyes to how others form their ideas on the page.”

As delighted as we all were by the success of the project, we were taken aback and honoured when we learned that Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins had recognised the importance of the initiative in a letter he wrote to Kevin Mc Dermott:

I was most interested to learn of the innovative and truly valuable collaboration (…) between Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun, its twinned school in Vimmerby, and the JCSP Library.

As President, (…) I am particularly impressed by how the initiative addressed the issue of language by helping students in Ireland to reimagine the Irish language in the context of their own lives and their newly forged friendship with their counterparts in Vimmerby.


That our current President of Ireland is himself a poet bestows the words with even greater honour.

As borders are again erected and some nations choose to turn away from their neighbours, this project is an example of how the fragile words and language that hide within us all can be used to bring different cultures together. When we take the brave step to let others read the dreams and fears that emerge on the page we see all that we share.

In similar ways to the In Pieces project, a small acorn of an idea managed to grow into something much grander than we could ever have hoped for.

Kevin may have checked out of ‘The Hotel California’ which our JCSP Library has become to him but it is unlikely that he will be allowed to leave anytime soon.

Echoes from a JCSP Library


JCSP Librarian in final of the School Library Association School Librarian of the Year Award 2020/2021

Éadaoin Quinn

We are thrilled to announce that Éadaoin Quinn, JCSP School Librarian in Enniscorthy Vocational College, Co. Wexford is one of just 5 school librarians from across Irish, UK and International Schools, to have made the prestigious School Library Association Honour List for School Librarian of the Year 2020/2021.

Éadaoin was one of the first librarians to join the JCSP Demonstration Library Project in 2002 in her hometown when she set up the library in Presentation Secondary School in Warrenmount, Dublin 8. Previously Éadaoin worked in her alma mater Trinity College, briefly holding the title of “Superintendent of Book Stacks”! She has worked on archaeological excavations and is always grateful for the community employment scheme that started her out on her career path. Recently she graduated with a Postgraduate Certificate in 21st Century Teaching and Learning. She loves her job, describing it as great fun and a privileged position. The highlights are running extra-curricular activities, creative writing clubs and training the school cross country running team.

School Library Association: Press Release

Giving school library staff the recognition they deserve

The SLA School Librarian of the Year Award is the School Library Association’s prestigious honour to recognize the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day and highlight the best practice of those whose work is outstanding.

2020 has been a challenging year for the Award due to the restrictions and pressure on schools, however, we are proud to announce our Honour List for School Librarian of the Year 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, and the uncertain situation in schools, as well as the increased pressure many of them will face in September it was felt we could not, in all fairness, carry out the final stage of judging to decide a winner. Therefore these excellent candidates will remain as our Honour List until we carry out the judging in a fair and consistent way; we hope to carry out visits in Spring 2021, and announce the School Librarian of the Year 2020/21 in June 2021.

SLA CEO, Alison Tarrant said: “Currently, the role that school and school staff have on the lives of children has never been clearer, but not being at school hasn’t stopped many school libraries from reacting, adjusting and operating during this time. However, there has also been a renewed focus on the importance and power of reading (for pleasure, learning and wellbeing) and information literacy skills, as this generation is having to rely on these to determine the truth from scare mongering, and educational information from fake news. The Honour List of 2020/21 have all been playing a central role in ensuring this generation have these skills, and they thoroughly deserve this honour.”

Our 2020/21 Honour List (in alphabetical order) are:

Claire Marris – Toot Hill School, Bingham (Nottinghamshire)

Claire works at a state secondary school. The school’s library is named the Learning Lounge, and Claire is fun and energetic. If a student declares they hate reading they don’t hold that view for long as Claire gets to know them and finds the book that is right for them. During break and lunch they are eager to tell her about their achievements, what they’ve been reading and invite her to play cards or board games. Claire runs both Reading Classics and Research Skills clubs. During these she teaches students how to understand and enjoy classics and how to find information in books – both are useful for students interested in pursuing further education. Claire is most proud of her reading initiatives which include book gifting to all year 7s and developing a Reading Week; as well as a BookTrust Challenge utilising the school library packs.

Terri McCargar – Latymer Upper School, London

Terri works at an independent secondary school, and she embodies all the qualities of an outstanding librarian and provides an excellent service to the students. She constantly fights the corner of the library as a place for reading, study and learning, even when this means challenging systems or colleagues. On a training day she hosted all staff (including non-teaching staff) to broaden awareness of the resources in the library, with her team wrapping 140 individually chosen books as a ‘Blind Date with a Book’ activity. Terri has overseen a book award grow from 6 schools to 30. One of her proudest moments was when the School Captain said during her Extended Project presentation: asked by a student what advice she would give to someone just starting their research, she replied, “Make Ms McCargar your best friend – she knows everything and wants to help!”

Éadaoin Quinn – Enniscorthy Vocational College, Co. Wexford (Ireland)

Éadaoin works in a post primary school in Ireland, and she makes sure the physical environment welcomes all students through the books and resources on display; while her professionalism has won the trust and respect of her colleagues. She says 99% of the work she does is done in partnership. Teachers remark that students regularly pull novels out of their bags unprompted when they have a chance to read, whether in a supervised class or even detention! There is a strong focus on feedback and impact, with twice yearly surveys, and tracking the level of library use. There’s a range of activities supported, which include chess and newspaper clubs, which gives space for students to be together with other students from across different year groups and friendship groups to share interests and make friends.

Rose Palmer – The Oaks Primary School, Ipswich (Suffolk)

Rose works at a state primary school, and works tirelessly and enthusiastically and has had an enormous impact on the reading culture in the school. Being well read and keeping up to date with publications is certainly one of the keys to her success. She has an unfailing ability to know just what her students will like and always encourages them to try new genres, authors and styles of text. Rose has started a week long book festival called Chantry Book Jam alongside author James Campbell, and runs ‘Adopt an Author’ for each class as well as a Patron of Reading for the school. When the library was being extended and remodelled, Rose was instrumental in the design, knowing she was creating a magical reading space in the school.

Kristabelle Williams – Addey and Stanhope School, London

Kristabelle works in a state secondary school, and has an unremitting and consistent focus on ensuring the best futures for her students, making reading, researching and library use the norm. There are weekly KS3 library classes and book clubs – focusing on RfP, book talks and information skills, activities including discussions, debates, Book Pen Pals, Kahoot quizzes, Padlet activities and Ms Williams’ popular mash up of Taboo and Heads Up called “Books Up”. By working with teaching departments and with student groups, booklists related to the curriculum, and empathy, inclusion and social justice are promoted across the school. Kristabelle has been instrumental in celebrating how reading for pleasure and mental health/well-being are intertwined, never stopping adapting and innovating to engage and encourage students.

Judging Panel

Judge Stephen King said: “I’m excited and proud that we are able to announce our 2020 Honours List for the School Librarian of the Year. All five of the nominees have demonstrated commitment and dedication to their schools and their students by consistently going over and above their remits and requirements. In these difficult times, they should all, in their own ways, be seen as beacons of what staff in school libraries can achieve with hard work, passion, and support from their line managers. I congratulate them all in achieving this important distinction.”

While co-judge Margaret Pemberton said: “Once again in 2020 we have been presented with a large number of high quality nominations for this award. The candidates come from a cross section of schools and have a wide range of experience. However they have all shared in their common purpose of providing the best library service they can and in enthusing their pupils and staff about reading and information skills. Congratulations to all.”

Our thanks go to Amy McKay and Ellen Krajewski, who in addition to Stephen and Margaret were a brilliant judging panel and have been working since nominations opened in September. Our thanks also go to the schools, their library staff and leaders for enabling us to have an Honour List for 2020/21.

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, Publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, says: “Macmillan Children’s Books is pleased and proud to be long term sponsors of the School Librarian of the Year Award. A school library that is run by a good librarian is something to be both celebrated and treasured. The role of a librarian, along with the physical space itself, is wide ranging from educational to pastoral and this award goes a long way to recognising this. We hope it also reminds everyone of what a valued part of school life a library can and should be.”

The School Library Association is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all. For information please visit

The School Library Association created the School Librarian of the Year Award in 2004 in response to the need for recognition of the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day, and to highlight best practice through celebrating those whose work is outstanding. Nominees do not need to be members of the SLA, and may be from any phase of education.

The selection process

When the nomination forms reach the SLA office they are opened by the office staff and anonymised so that each nomination is unidentifiable when seen by the SLYA panel at the first selection meeting. At the first selection meeting the forms are discussed and a long list is compiled. Those on the list are asked to provide a range of paperwork to support their nomination. The judging panel looks at the documents and finally selects a long list of between 7 and 10 candidates. These longlisted candidates are sent a detailed questionnaire to complete and asked for further evidence to help the judges select those whom they will visit, normally 4-6 candidates. Over the next few months at least two panel members visit each school. One member of the panel goes on every visit to provide continuity. After the round of visits, reports are prepared for each nominee and shared with the other members of the panel prior to a final selection meeting where all the candidates are discussed at length and there is an opportunity to add personal comments to the reports. An Honour List of 4 or 5 is selected. Due to COVID-19 the visits weren’t able to take place this year, and the remainder of the process will resume in 2021.

The selection panel, all of whom have donated their time to enable the awarding of the School Librarian of the Year 2020 comprises:

  • Amy Mckay Librarian at Corby Business Academy, SLA Board Member and past winner of SLA School Librarian of the Year Award (2016)
  • Stephen King School Librarian at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School, Dover, and SLA Board Member
  • Margaret Pemberton SLA Board Member and freelance School Library and Book Consultant
  • Ellen Krajewski SLA Board Member

Previous Winners of the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award

2019: Ros Harding – The King’s School Chester

2018: Emma Suffield – Saint Wilfrid’s C of E Academy, Blackburn

2017: Lucas Maxwell – Glenthorne High School, London Borough of Sutton 2016: Amy McKay – Corby Business Academy

2015: Annie Brady – St Paul’s CBS Secondary School, Dublin, Ireland (JCSP Librarian)

2014: Liz Millett – Weatherfield Academy, Dunstable

2013: Hilary Cantwell – St Paul’s Community College, Waterford, Ireland  (JCSP Librarian)

2013: John Iona – Oasis Academy, Enfield, Middlesex

2012: Adam Lancaster – Monk’s Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire 2011: Carol Webb – Forest Hill School, London

2010: Duncan Wright – Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh 2010: Kevin Sheehan – Offerton School, Stockport

2009: Lucy Bakewell – Hill West Primary School, Sutton Coldfield 2008: Nikki Heath – Werneth School, Stockport

2007: Ingrid Hopson – George Abbot School, Guildford

2006: Anne-Marie Tarter – Ripon Grammar School, North Yorkshire

2005: Anne Robinson – Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College, Bedworth


The 2020 School Librarian of the Year Award is supported by the Foyle Foundation ( , and is sponsored by Macmillan Children’s Books. The Foyle Foundation have supported the award since 2018. The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant making Trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the Arts and Learning. The Foundation also operates a community small grants programme and a national school library improvement scheme.

For more information about the SLA School Librarian of the Year see:

The JCSP Demonstration Library Project is extremely proud that Éadaoin has reached the finals of this year’s School Librarian of the Year Award. She is the 5th JCSP Librarian to reach the Honour List – which is a testament to the amazing work that is carried out across our school libraries every day to support teaching and learning in Irish schools.

latest news

Read All About it! Our School Newspaper – The Mile Post

by Éadaoin Quinn

It is always on a Thursday at “little break” when The Mile Post is distributed. The newspaper team armed with bundles of papers, take their places at the lockers and the entrance to the canteen, awaiting the bell. The buzz of excitement is evident as both students and staff rush to get their copy, leafing through at speed (to see if they are in it!), before settling in for a read. The Principal and Deputy Principals are given their papers ten minutes before everyone else. The newspaper team anxiously await their thumbs up. Voicing opinions, writing on difficult topics, and interviewing staff are acts of courage. Waiting for feedback is nerve-wracking!

Our school newspaper is effectively the student voice of Enniscorthy Vocational College and The Mile Post is the real deal. It is a school ‘newspaper’. It is not a newsletter and it is not a magazine!! We are a tad touchy about that. The school community includes over 400 pupils, but the readership of our newspaper extends far beyond that to teachers, families, and the wider community. Our newspaper aims to make our world bigger, exploring the world beyond the school gates. Articles look at local youth groups, third level study, career choices, visits abroad, going to the Gaeltacht. A lead story last winter studied the air quality of the town in comparison to WHO norms and world averages for pollution with shocking results. This is a publication which acknowledges that growing up means finding your place in the world. 

The publishing team meets weekly at lunchtime in the library with the JCSP librarian and a teacher.  With feature writing, editing, sports reporting, photography, cartoon drawing, research and distribution, there is a role for everybody. The TY class join in through Newsbrand, Ireland’s Press Pass media literacy initiative. Sometimes the team hosts tea and chat in the library and bring together groups of students for features. Freelance articles are commissioned from students, often they become hooked and are enlisted for further pieces. We stress that everyone has a story to tell and a unique experience of school and the world around them. Students are, if necessary, supported to write by members of staff: resource teachers, NBSS, librarian and teachers. Reporters and photographers are given press passes allowing travel to matches and events. Prompt filing of stories is expected, or passes are revoked!! 

Mylie our resident agony aunt (really two wise sixth year students who work in secret) promotes wellbeing. Dear Mylie answers anonymous questions from students on everything from losing a BFF when moving from primary to secondary, drug use, separation, anxiety and learning to study. Dear Mylie has his/her anonymous finger on the pulse and is a firm favourite among the school community. The student voice is also championed with articles like ‘My experience of living with ADHD’ or ‘Music and me – playing the violin’. There is inherent wisdom in some articles ‘I hate it when my friends look at their phone when I’m telling a story’ and peer advice on the merits and otherwise of TY from graduating students at the end of the year.  Issues raised in editorials have even made it to the agenda of senior management meetings. 

Like any school club or committee, just being part of a team is a great. The newspaper team works hard together and celebrates each issue with cups of tea and biscuits. We also mark the end of the year with a pizza party in the library. Of course, we are not forgetting that in publishing our school newspaper valuable skills are learned; researching, writing, drafting, editing, communicating, photography, IT skills, working to deadlines (sometimes learning the hard way!) and working as part of a team. The “final -final” deadline is always a Friday, with tweaks and last-minute additions on a Monday before a PDF is sent to the printers on Tuesday, to be collected early Thursday morning. An electronic copy is also created and shared to supplement the paper. 

At its most basic function, The Mile Post publishes listings of information, what clubs and extra-curricular activities are on, when and where and how to get involved. Match scores are reported, competitions and big events are flagged. However, the real magic of the newspaper is in building community. We get to know each other and celebrate our successes, inside and outside of school. There is the ever popular ‘Shout Outs and Happy Birthday’ feature.  Students from across year groups and friendship groups work together towards their deadlines.  We learn all sorts of details about each other’s lives outside school from our hidden talents to our secret fears and maybe even our favourite breakfast cereal. We have discovered that our students have wildly diverse and interesting hobbies like ballroom dancing, flapper racing, hunting, rally driving, mountain biking, boxing, and make-up vlogging. There is no end of material to write about.  This September will see some special celebrations for our team, as they have recently achieved an impressive second prize in the Press Pass awards for school newspapers. Voicing opinions, writing about difficult topics, and interviewing staff are acts of courage. And these young reporters are incredibly BRAVE! The future of print news in alive and well in Enniscorthy Vocational College!


Life Under Lockdown – A Living History Project

by Mairéad Duggan

“We are still here for you!” These were the first words posted by our wonderful JCSP Co-ordinator in Microsoft Teams in our online School Library Team. We are still here for you! It seemed like the most important thing to say. We had ventured into the unknown – a journey of remote school librarianship alongside our online teaching. “We are still here for you!” and we felt it intensely as the dark threat of Covid19 loomed over our country. This was our heartfelt message to our students and the first milestone on this journey was posting about our Life in Lockdown Living History Project which we intended to publish with their help.

We are still here for you

Four years ago, in Mount Carmel Secondary School, during the centenary of the 1916 Rising, we published a book, ‘1916-2016 – How We Remember.‘ Many of our staff, students and management participated, becoming published authors for the first time. As every Department was eager to celebrate a momentous occasion in Irish History, we decided to come together as a school to commemorate the 1916 Rising. The whole school got involved and with the help of some funding from Dublin City Council, we published a glossy 1916 themed book entitled How We Remember. With stunning artwork, creative writing, photographs and sketches, the students endeavoured to celebrate an important milestone in Irish history. Four years later, we find ourselves living through another such milestone.

Corona Virus and Toilet Paper by Kamila Domagala

Amidst echoes of the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913, the Great Lockdown of 2020 has seen our teachers and students locked out of their school buildings for the foreseeable future.  With schools closed in extraordinary times and students unlikely (hopefully) to ever see such times again, the JCSP and Librarian teams decided to document the time by initiating a living history project, inviting students and staff to document their experiences through the written word, poetry, diary entries, art, sketches and photographs. Linking in with other engagement activities, challenges, competitions etc. across our JCSP library community, we are collecting, collating, and editing a selection of eclectic responses.

Girl With a Pearl Earring and Mask by Gemma Heron Comiskey

Via the Zoom arena that hosts our current staff meeting, we asked all our teachers to guide and encourage their students to create and submit their work for this publication. We are encouraging teachers, SNAs, school management, caretaking and secretarial teams to contribute some material outlining their experiences. We also hope to encourage some past students to contribute to this shared experience. Parents who are experiencing the lockdown in the local community will also be asked to participate. Our Home Economics Department may help us with our section on Quarantine Cuisine – particularly the ever popular banana bread. As teachers have set assignments and edited some work, our students’ literacy development is evident. Visual literacy is also enhanced as students are encouraged to represent visually what the pandemic represents to them. Most importantly though, the project is working to enhance a sense of connection and wellbeing across the school community.

Heart for Heroes by Dorina Coptu

Implemented at a time where across the board in all schools, there is a problem with a lack of student engagement, this is a project which has begun to capture the students’ imagination primarily because it is not prescriptive and therefore taps into their natural creativity. We hope that encouraging students to share their experiences in the way in which they are most comfortable, will lead to a living history project which will serve as a time capsule for many years to come.

Front Line Heroes by Rabeya Hossain

This project is still in its infancy, and yet the honesty and integrity of the written and visual responses so far has been awe-inspiring. Heroic teachers are encouraging, wheedling and gently pushing some of the more disengaged students. The librarians and the JCSP Co-ordinator are collating and organising all the responses. All students who submit a piece get an individual response outlining our gratitude and appraising the work they have submitted. A lot of critical thinking was displayed in the creation of these submissions and the emotional depth and even comic value of student responses has been inspiring for us. The JCSP and Library Teams offer feedback, along with help and support through individual messaging to participating students. Direct messages to students struggling with the weight of social isolation will be sent encouraging them to participate,

Heart for the Heroes by Adelina Coptu

 We would like to see as many students participate as possible. We are living through History. We are living through extraordinary times that hopefully none of us will see again in our lifetimes. As a school community, we would like to have a record of these strange times to record their historical value for future generations of our students. We would like to encourage creativity and publish our young authors and illustrators for a wider audience. But most importantly, as we embark on this endeavour, we would like our students to know “we are still here for you.”

Covid-19 by Gemma Heron Comiskey

Broadcasting Challenge

Interested in Developing your Broadcasting Skills?

Over the past few months, the School of Jock has worked with 3 JCSP Library Project schools in Tallaght, Dublin. The aim of the project was to establish a Radio Station which would be based in the ‘Press Room’ of St. Aidan’s Community School and which would be available for use by students and staff from all 3 participating schools. The initiative was sponsored by the JCSP Library Project, South Dublin County Council Arts Office, Poetry Ireland and the three school libraries: – St. Aidan’s Community School, Killinarden Community School and Mount Seskin Community College.

Forty students in total were trained in the practical radio production skills and in the basics of good broadcasting, leaving behind well trained and equipped minds to create and conquer the world of broadcasting.

The students have gone on to produce a number of interviews on topics ranging from Author Interviews, Student Voice, Bullying, Working in Teams, Erasmus Projects, Drama, Sport and Climate Change.

Broadcasting Challenge

Would you be interested in developing your broadcasting skills?  If so check out this fantastic challenge: ‘Life in Lockdown’ – record a two/three-minute interview with a friend or relative discussing a positive story of Life in Lockdown.  Further information and broadcasting tips from veteran Radio Broadcaster Eric Moore ‘School of Jock’ here:

Great prizes for the winners: a master class in broadcasting and a digital recorder for the main prize winner!

Email your broadcasts to your JCSP Librarian by or contact your librarian by email for more info.

Closing Date – May 31st


JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge and JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge

This May an exciting new photography initiative has just been launched by The JCSP Libraries project. This initiative is designed to promote visual literacy and creative thinking. There are two different versions of this challenge: The JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge and The JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge.

The JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge

A photography prompt list has been created for the challenge. Daily prompts invite  students to take photographs of people, places and things all within two kilometres of their homes. The prompts focus on different visual features including texture, pattern, colour and shape. There are two ways for students to get invovled in this challenge. Students can participate by responding to the daily prompts and forwarding their entries to their librarians or by using the app Actionbound, to complete a photo treasure hunt.

The JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge

This is a mini version of the challenge for students who are currently quarantined in their own homes. It can be completed without leaving home, and focuses on ten prompts.

Photographer in Residence: CJ Nash

Professional photographer, CJ Nash, who works with Irish Country Magazine and The Irish Farmer’s Journal, will be our Photographer in Residence for this initiative. She will offer tips and tricks over the month of May, which will be shared on Twitter.


Each JCSP Library will offer students a selection of marvellous prizes. Overall winners will be invited to attend a Photography Masterclass in Warrenmount, Dublin. Entries will be shared on Twitter @jcsplibraries and Instagram @jcsplibraries





by Joe Kelly, Eileen McDermott and Rebecca Ford

On foot of the school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the JCSP Librarian team initiated a range of challenges, competitions, and engagement activities to share amongst their project and school communities. Earlier in the year, the team, thanks to the work of Ciaran O’Doherty of New Cross College in Finglas, held a major exhibition of drawings inspired by Inktober, the annual international drawing challenge created by Jake Parker. SprINK20, an idea sparked by Rebecca Ford, Librarian in Collinstown Park Community College in Clondalkin, drew upon the success of Inktober during the difficult days of student isolation.

We asked our students to create a drawing everyday based on a prompt related in this instance, to Spring. Students were invited to take part throughout April. The standard of responses from across the country was wonderful, even garnering some coverage in one regional newspaper. Some of the participants were so engaged by this initiative they made it a daily practice, including participation over weekends and the Easter holiday period, thus having an opportunity to support their own wellbeing during the stay-at-home period. As well as extending the learning beyond school and into the home, the initiative also supported the literacy development of our participants. Many of the pieces demonstrate students’ ability for reflection, lateral thinking, and deeper visual literacy with their subtle use of vocabulary and interpretation of concepts. Librarians linked with students offering feedback and encouragement wherever possible and displayed the pieces of work on social media.

At the end of the month all the drawings will be collated for an online exhibition and students will be acknowledged for their efforts. We were grateful to have attracted the support on social media of several Irish artists and illustrators who joined our challenge. This SprINK incarnation of the Inktober drawing challenge, allowed the students to have another opportunity to experience a sense of continuity, creativity, and connectedness during the school closures. The results speak for themselves.

For more school closure initiatives by JCSP Librarians take a look here


National Drop Everything and Read Challenge 2020

by Kathleen Moran

Register your support for DEAR here

Total Registrations = 342,712

Given that so many of us are now spending so much more time in our homes, now is an excellent time to to take some time to enjoy reading for pleasure. We are therefore inviting the entire nation to take time out and to ‘Drop Everything and Read’ for 20 minutes at 12 noon on Friday April 24th 2020.

The simple idea is to promote the importance of literacy and to spread the joy of reading for pleasure by having as many people as possible read at the same time on the same day. Over 200,000 registered to participate last year and our aim is to have an even higher participation figure this year. So show your support and register here.

Work will be put down, computer screens will be turned off, and everyone will be encouraged to pick up a book, magazine, newspaper, e-book, audio book, etc. and to read quietly, or indeed be read to, for 20 minutes (or more!).

DEAR 2020 Ambassador Sarah Crossan

We are delighted to welcome poet, author and Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan as our DEAR Ambassador this year. In her promotional video for the DEAR Challenge, Sarah stresses the importance of reading for enjoyment. You can view Sarah’s video here

Reading is one of the only things that allows me to forget about all the things that are going on in the world

DEAR Ambassador Sarah Crossan

The main focus of this national DEAR challenge is to draw attention to the importance of reading for pleasure. If reading is to become a lifelong habit then young people must see themselves as participants in a community that views reading as a significant and enjoyable activity.

When is DEAR celebrated?

The official time and date for DEAR Ireland 2020 is 12 noon on Friday April 24th.

Can DEAR be celebrated at a different time/date?

Of course.  If you cannot participate in DEAR at the official date and time, then please show your support by registering and taking time to read on a date and time to suit you.  DEAR can be celebrated at any time on any day, or better still, every day!

What do I need to do to participate in DEAR?

All those planning to participate in the 2020 National Drop Everything and Read Challenge (individuals, families, schools, organisations, companies, etc.) are asked to register here

Then all you have to do is read!

Rosie – DEAR Challenge Mascot


Registration Form – click here to register for DEAR 2020

DEAR Ambassador Sarah Crossan – click here to see short video from DEAR 2020 Ambassador Sarah Crossan

Follow the campaign on Twitter @dear_ireland and share your comments, photos and video clips on Twitter, Instagram, etc. using the hashtags #DEARIrl and #LetsGetIrelandReading or email to

Our Favourite DEAR 2019 Photo (by Sadhbh Devlin)

Kathleen Moran – Senior Librarian JCSP Demonstration Library Project