Welcome to our Website. I hope and trust that you will find this site both interesting and informative. In the age of information technology and in a school which has embraced these changes, it is wholly appropriate that you should get so much information here.
In 2009, Gort Community School was one of a number of schools nationwide which was selected for the rollout of the 2009, 100 mega bite high speed broadband initiative. The I.T. network and the hardware in the school reflects this. Please enjoy this Website and as much as any Meeting or Open Day, you will find a great deal of information here.
Gort Community School first opened its doors on the 4th September 1995. The 750 students had been attending three different schools up to that point (except new first years) and I am sure that many of them, particularly the older students, were understandably apprehensive about making the transition from old to new. It was a huge day for everybody including the staff of the three schools that were coming together to work under the one roof for the very first time. Competition would soon give way to camaraderie as Gort Community School took its first baby steps forward. With many of our students coming across the border from Clare, it seemed wholly appropriate that the Clare hurling team had made its own little piece of history the day before by winning the All Ireland hurling championship for the first time in over 80 years. It was a beautiful sunny morning on the Monday 4th September when students assembled on the tennis courts – excitement and nervousness were apparent in equal measure. There was a sea of blue interspersed with green as the Leaving Certificate girls of the Convent were allowed to hold onto their uniform for their first (and last!) year at our new school.
The school building was constructed by McNamara Builders, Lisdoonvarna and was built within the Department’s budget at a cost of £365,000.00. The Architect overseeing the project was Mr. Niall J. Kearns, Galway. Incredible that it may seem, the new building was too small for the numbers wishing to attend. Before the first term had even started, the Department of Education and Science had agreed in principle to the building of an extension. That extension was opened in September 1999 and on the 5th May 2000, Gort Community School was officially opened by the then Minister for Education and Science, Dr. Michael Woods T.D. (see picture)
By the time that date had come around, the new school had found its feet. A sub committee of the staff of the new school had met several times during the summer of 1995 to put together a working Code of Conduct which guided the new school through its formative years. The structure and bones of that Code, although revised and revisited many times since, remains to this day. Naturally, there were teething problems as everybody grappled with their new surroundings. The staff in general were very positive and well disposed to their new challenge and it helped enormously that in those first years each of the three constituent schools had their own “leaders” that showed by example what needed to be done to make the new school a success. Each entity had its own driving forces and I always respected the differing traditions of where these schools had come from, whilst at the same time nurturing a new dynamic to propel us forward as a united team with a common purpose. In that first staffroom, the three schools picked out their “nest”, their comfort zone – Our Lady’s on the left, St Joseph’s in the middle and the “Tech” lads and ladies on the right. If anybody changed or altered that seating arrangement over a holiday period, it somehow found that original shape again as if it was the pre-ordained order.
In time this disappeared as with natural evolution, the “oldies” were replaced and the new faces owed no allegiance, overt or covert, to a particular part of the staffroom. The new millennium came upon us and with that we respectfully left the three schools in the past, mindful of all each had done for South Galway and North Clare for many past years. The importance and relevance of a good education was an honourable goal which had been set long before 4th September 1995.
OUR SCHOOL – IT’S CHARACTERISTIC SPIRIT
I am often struck by the many visitors that come into our school who comment on the lovely atmosphere that exists in our workplace and the mutual respect showed by staff and student. At times perhaps, I don’t see it or feel it (the “not seeing the wood from the trees syndrome”) and I caution our visitors about their predictable and pleasant sound bites but they assure me that for them, it is real and very tangible. When President Mary McAleese visited the school in May 2006, she commented very favourably on the lovely warm atmosphere which permeated the school.
So, what kind of a school do we have in Gort? Is this the school that we want or wanted in 1995? Do we achieve our mission and is our vision still intact? Are all our stake holders happy that they get from our school their just rewards? When we say that “this is the way we do things in Gort”, what exactly does this mean? The Characteristic Spirit of our school encapsulates the kind of a school that we are and it draws on the historical, cultural and educational background of our three constituent schools and the hinterland from where our students attend our school. Our Mission Statement spells out our focus and tries to crystallize the meaning and breadth of our Characteristic Spirit. So, our Mission Statement states:-
Gort Community School is a Christian community, which endeavours to be a happy and caring place striving to develop the academic, aesthetic, spiritual, physical and moral potential of each student. Our school seeks to imbue a sense of respect for one another, for our school environment and for the whole community in which we live. Our school is devoted to excellence in every way.
Our aim is to provide a comprehensive system of post-primary and continuing education open to all the community combining instruction in academic, artistic and practical subjects. Gort Community School promotes equal opportunity and recognises the importance of partnership between the school and the general community in fulfilling its role.
It was interesting to learn how the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science would view this statement based on what the team of Inspectors witnessed when they came to our school for a Whole School Evaluation in January 2007. In the final report, the Chief Reporting Inspector noted (page 2)…. “It is clear that the school in its daily operation acts in an inclusive manner and that the term Christian Community is used in an inclusive manner and is embracing of all denominations”.
The Inspectors went on to refer to our motto REVERENTIA and to the Irish expression – “Ní neart go cur le chéile”, which refers to strength through unity. It was heartening then to read the Inspectorate’s assessment of this aspect of our mission when the Chief Reporting Inspector stated in his findings (page 20) that some of the strengths of our school included:-
- A strong sense of respect and unity characterizes the daily interactions of members of the school community and this accords with the school’s characteristic spirit.
- Inspectors noted excellent rapport among staff and students in the lessons evaluated and observation of informal interactions among staff and students showed that staff-student interactions are characterized by a strong sense of mutual respect.
The Inspectors report went on to comment on the very broad range of programme options and subject options available to students. It highlighted our support for students from disadvantaged, minority and other groups. Significantly, the report also made direct reference to the caring nature of our school when it commented…. “There is a strong sense of Pastoral Care for students and for staff evident among the school community during the evaluation”.
Twelve years into our existence, the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills gave our school a very positive and affirming report. Over the last four years, we have constantly looked at ways of school improvement for our 60 staff and over 700 students.
The sense of togetherness and unity of purpose of all the stakeholders was further exemplified by the opening of the Noone Building in October 2010. This building comprised of a new Career Guidance suite, Music Room and Oratory on the first floor, with changing rooms for our boys, girls and staff on the ground floor. It was a fantastic addition to our facilities and was 60% privately funded thanks in the main to our Parents Association and almost 10 years of fundraising. The building cost €534,000 and was built by Smyth Faha Developments Limited, Killanena, Co. Clare. It took 10 months to construct and was named the Noone Building after the very generous donation received from the estate (€100,000) of the late Dr. Francis Noone, Castletown, Gort.
More than anything, it epitomized the togetherness and unity of direction of all our stakeholders and everyone worked together – staff, parents and students along with a very informed Board of Management, to bring the project to fruition.
It was a most appropriate way to bring down the curtain of the first decade of the new millennium for the fledging Gort Community School.
Denis A. Corry.