Friday 23 February 2024

Paris in the Spring - Form 5 Tour

As twenty bleary eyed pupils took our first steps out of the plane, the crisp morning air of Paris awakened us like a new beginning, an adventure.  

Our first stop on our travels was the ‘Stade de France’. You could feel the electricity, the excitement felt by those who had once played there. With its high roof and multitude of seats, it was an exciting start to our trip as we saw the preparations underway for the Olympics. 

As night approached, we embarked on a boat tour of the Seine.  Although tired, we were soon awakened by the breath-taking views.  Speechlessly we stood, taking it all in. ‘Paris, the city of light’: it all was making sense now.  The yellow lights reflected against the water, like a whole new city; the moonlight casting a warm glow.  The colours of the buildings were remarkable, the cool earthy tones of the stone, the rain splattering across the pavement, like paint to a canvas.  

As we reluctantly made our way back to our hostel we were interrupted, the Eiffel tower, in all its glory, stood just at our feet.  The sheer scale was unfathomable, its orange and yellow light brightened our pathway home, inviting us in and then, to our surprise, the lights began to twinkle.  This occurs every hour, on the hour.  The light reflected in the smiles on each of our faces.  This was such a special way to begin our trip.  

As the morning light seeped its way through our hostel window, we began our second day in Paris.  One after another, like ants in a line, we explored the streets of Montmartre.  Walking on the steep, winding cobblestoned streets, our legs were beginning to tire.  However, the bright, white church of Sacré-Coeur could be seen in the horizon and kept us going.  The view of Paris, once we reached the top, was like no other and worth the walk.  

After a bite to eat, we began a once in the lifetime opportunity to view beautiful Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower.  We stood expectantly, waiting in line for our turn to go.  As the lift began to take off our stomachs drops, and nerves began to set in.  As the lift doors opened, we were hit with a strong gush of cold wind.  We stood one foot then the next and began to make our way to the edge.  Peering cautiously over the railing, the view was incredible.  The buildings which had seemed huge were now just small parts of the big picture.  The cars looked like toy cars, and the people who we once were just a day ago, gazing up at the Eiffel tower, were tiny.  

The following day we visited the historic Catacombs.  Here lie the skeletons of nearly six million people.  The dark long tunnel made the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end. 

Shortly afterwards, we visited Musée d’Orsay.  This experience was particularly fascinating for those of us who study Leaving Certificate Art.  The beautiful gallery with its high ceilings and bright natural lighting was remarkable, to finally seeing the paintings we had spent so long studying in class, in front of our eyes. The details of the brush work and the effect the museum lighting had on each piece was like no other. This experience really stood out to me and others alike. 

After the art gallery we skipped the long queues at Angelina’s and went for delicious, thick, hot chocolates at a nearby café instead.  It was a great opportunity to practice our French when ordering. C’est magnifique!  

For our last evening, our teachers warned us to be prepared for a long walk to get to the restaurant for our final dinner. We were happy to discover that they were joking, and it was in the restaurant next door. This meal was the best dinner of the trip! We were then treated to Parisian crepes to celebrate pancake Tuesday.  

On the morning of our last day there was a feeling of sadness hanging above us all, like a raincloud warning of a storm.  We visited the beautiful palace of Versailles. Its gold details and painted ceilings brightened our spirits.   

As we returned to Ireland, we were sad.  However, we knew we had made memories to last a lifetime.  A big thank you to our amazing teachers who organised the visit.  À bientôt! 

Rosa Bell-Megaw 

Friday 9 February 2024

Senior Cup Moments

The High School senior rugby team painted a red and black swath as they advanced across the pitch in the first moments of the Senior Cup fixture against Blackrock College, the supporters’ screams ringing in their ears.  The drum thundered like a battle cry, and so began the clash.  Each time they met was a rolling, scrambling scuffle of bodies. 

The frantic scrabble for purchase and then that moment, when the noise drowned away and a lone figure emerged hurtling across the grass. Nothing could stop him now as he weaved past the wall of bodies, ducking outstretched hands like tree limbs.  Elliot Walsh threw himself over the try line with the Blackrock boys still pounding at his heels, and the roar from the crowd shook the heavens.  All the concerts in the world couldn’t match the energy of The High School in that moment.  
For eighty minutes on that Friday afternoon, it felt like the ground was shaking with the pounding of feet, the thundering of frantic fists against the railings, the hoarse cries of supporters as the ball hurtled back and forth. No snapshot can capture the whipping frenzy of movement, those deafening waves of voices rolling back and forth in call and response.  The whole school filled the stands that day.  This time was special. After weeks of mounting excitement, hard-fought win after win, a slow ascent all bringing us closer to this.  When the crowd were quiet, it seemed even the birds took up the silence, and when we roared, the sky itself couldn’t hold us. 
First half faded to second, and new faces entered the fray. The team gave it their all and fought to the last minute.  When the final whistle blew, and the score was set, all that was left to greet them were the smiles and cheers of their friends pouring out from the stands.  Among the cheers and the hugs in those final moments, we all knew this was a day that would go down in High School history.
Luca Farrelly

Happy New Lunar Year!

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is a high-spirited celebration deeply ingrained in Chinese culture, marking the beginning of the lunar calendar year.  Lasting for roughly two weeks, the festivities are rich in symbolism and tradition, creating a sense of unity and renewal among families and communities.  The New Year is associated with one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle with 2024 being the Year of the Dragon. 

People embrace this symbolism, ascribing personality traits and predictions to individuals born in specific years. This aspect adds a room of excitement and anticipation as families gather to share stories, exchange well-wishes, and partake of delectable feasts.  Food holds a special place during Chinese New Year, with traditional dishes symbolizing luck, prosperity, and abundance. 
Dumplings, representing wealth due to their resemblance to ancient Chinese ingots, are a staple on the dinner table.  Nian Gao, a sticky rice cake, symbolizes growth, progress, and achieving new heights in the coming year.  Fish, served whole, symbolizes surplus and prosperity, with the Cantonese phrase for fish sounding like "surplus" or "extra."  These culinary delights are shared among loved ones as part of the reunion dinner, a cherished tradition held on New Year's Eve, symbolizing family unity and prosperity for the year ahead. 
Throughout Chinese New Year, customs and rituals abound, each with its own significance and symbolism. Red decorations adorn homes and streets, believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.  Fireworks and firecrackers are set off to create deafening noise and vibrant displays, driving away negative energy and welcoming the new year with optimism.  The exchange of red envelopes, or "Hongbao," filled with money, is a gesture of goodwill and blessings, particularly towards children and younger relatives. 
Family visits, known as "bai nian," involve paying respects to elders, exchanging well-wishes, and strengthening bonds, reinforcing the importance of kinship and tradition during this wonderful time.  Overall, Chinese New Year is a cultural time of year filled with warmth, symbolism, and the promise of new beginnings. 
Jun Wei Sui

Thursday 8 February 2024

Breaking Barriers: High School's Senior Girls Rugby Cup Match

Our senior girl's rugby team made history this week by competing in our first-ever 12-a-side cup match against Our Lady of Mercy College Beaumont. Not only did we showcase our skills and determination on home turf, but we emerged victorious, securing a place in the semi-finals. The final score was 47-10 . 

The journey to this momentous occasion has been one filled with dedication, hard work, and a true sense of team spirit. Our girls have been training relentlessly, working on their skills, and pushing their limits to prepare for this match. As we stepped onto the field, we carried with us the weight of representing not just our school, but also breaking new ground in representing the school in senior girls' rugby. 

The atmosphere on the day of the match was electric, with a huge number of the school community rallying behind our team. Friends, family, teachers, and fellow students came out in full force to show their support, painting the sidelines in our school colours and cheering on our players with unwavering enthusiasm. It was a moment of unity and pride as we stood together, witnessing history in the making. 

But it was on the field where our girls truly shone. With skilful plays, strategic manoeuvres, unwavering determination and great coaching we dominated the game particularly in the second half. We worked extremely well as a team, while every girl had the opportunity to show their individual skills. A special mention for Maya Neely with her phenomenal conversions!! We also want to say a big thank you our coaches, Mr Sullivan, Ms Garland and Ava for all their time and support that have brought us to this level. 

Our achievement goes beyond the score line, it symbolises breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and paving the way for future generations in The High school. 

We couldn't be prouder of our girls and their incredible accomplishment. Their victory is a testament to the power of teamwork, perseverance, and the unwavering support of our school community. 
Elisa MacGabhann

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Leinster Swimming Gala

Last week, The High School swimmers participated in the Leinster Swimming Gala in Athy.  Over twenty schools participated in the gala, with just under 200 swimmers competing.  The High School swimmers had a very successful competition indeed.  In total, there were fourteen medals awarded.  We should like to acknowledge the hard work, determination, and dedication that each of them put into preparing for this competition.  Congratulations to all who participated in this wonderful event.  Here is a breakdown of the medalists:

Niamh Mitchell - Senior

- Backstroke: Gold Medal

- 100m Freestyle: Silver Medal

- 50m Freestyle: Silver Medal

- 50m Butterfly: Bronze Medal

Daniel Collins - Senior

- 50m Breaststroke: Silver Medal

- 100m Breaststroke: Bronze Medal

Lucy Micks  - Junior

- 50m Freestyle: Silver Medal

- 100m Freestyle: Bronze Medal

- 100m Backstroke: Gold Medal

 Erin Flashman - Junior

- 50 m Butterfly – Gold medal

- 100 m freestyle – silver medal

Chloe McCready - Junior

– 50 m freestyle – bronze medal

– 50 m breast stroke – gold medal

– 50 m butterfly – silver medal

Form 1 Hockey Win

Today, the Form 1 Hockey team emerged victorious with an impressive 6-1 win against Wesley College.  Despite the challenging windy conditions, our talented players showcased their skills and determination on the field.  The match was filled with excitement as our team dominated the game from start to finish.  Their relentless efforts paid off as they scored six goals, leaving their opponents trailing behind with only one goal to their name.  It was a remarkable display of teamwork that led to this resounding victory.  Well done!

Friday 8 December 2023

Anatomy of a Fall - Film Review

 The film that stood out to me this year was Anatomy of a Fall, or "Anatomie d'une chute" in French, as spoken throughout. This film is two and a half hours that kept me thinking long after I left the cinema.  Anatomy of a Fall is a legal drama about the investigation of a man's death and possible murder.  The story mainly focuses on the wife, who may have killed him, and their blind son, who is the only witness, but it's miles ahead of most courtroom dramas because it includes a gripping family drama as well.  The film focuses on a single point in time and dissects its characters' motives until it reaches a conclusion.  Throughout the course of the film, you are given information via court scenes and character discussions.  The director also knows what not to tell you as we don't see "The Fall" or any flashbacks, unless it is pre-recorded footage or audio.  The film is committed to leaving it up to our imagination and it is up to us to discern fact from fiction.  Its confined setting and characters keep it from being too complex but also saves it from being shallow and without any nuance.

The acting is incredible and it's among the best I've seen this year.  I had never seen Sandra Hüller in any other film before this and I'll be looking into her filmography as soon as possible.  She shows us every bit of the struggle of her character to maintain her innocence and the grief over the loss of her husband, often without saying so much as a word. Swann Arlaud plays Vincent, her lawyer and possibly her lover. He gives a lot of thought to how he plays him.  I felt that Antoine Reinartz, here in the role of the prosecutor, talked a bit too much with his hands.  Milo Machado Graner as the child had a lot of weight on his shoulders and carried his role well throughout, while also scaring me and reminding me of Danny from The Shining.  However, I have to say the real standout is the family dog who is very professional and never pays attention to the massive film crew following him.

The film uses language well.  There is plenty of French, English and a little German, and they're often used interchangeably.  For some keeping up with subtitles, especially in a feature film, can sound like work but for me it only keeps my eyes glued to the screen.  However, it was the sound design that stood out to me.  The film knew how to craft its quiet moments while also knowing when to be loud: this coats the room with suspense.
Crucial to any film is a sense of direction.  Anatomy of a Fall certainly has a very purposeful trajectory.  Every scene was so effective and the ending just left me wanting more.  This is Justine Triet's first film on a level this international. I find Anatomy of a Fall to be as perfect as a film can be: five stars.  I really would love to see what projects she works on after this.
Adam Geraghty