Gorey duo are the face of new €1 an­niver­sary stamp

Gorey Guardian - - NEWS - BY ES­THER HAY­DEN

TWO Gorey Com­mu­nity School stu­dents are the face of the new €1 com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp from An Post cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of sec­ond level ed­u­ca­tion in Ire­land.

Last Thurs­day marked the 50th an­niver­sary of the then Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion, Donogh O’Mal­ley, an­nounc­ing plans for sec­ond-level ed­u­ca­tion through­out Ire­land and to mark the mile­stone An Post is­sued a com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp on the an­niver­sary.

The stamp, de­signed by lead­ing de­signer Ger Gar­land with pho­tog­ra­phy by Alan Bet­son, fea­tures Lau­ren Dench and Michael Duke two stu­dents of Gorey Com­mu­nity school, the largest sec­ond level school in the coun­try.

A First day Cover, de­signed to ac­com­pany the stamp, in­cludes a por­trait of O’Mal­ley who served as Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion from 1966 un­til his death in 1968.

Lau­ren and Michael are both sixth year stu­dents at Gorey Com­mu­nity School and principal Michael Finn said that the duo were cho­sen ran­domly over the sum­mer.

‘The news that two stu­dents from GCS would fea­ture on the com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp was re­layed to us dur­ing the sum­mer and ob­vi­ously there were no stu­dents here at the time as they were all on hol­i­days.

‘We then chose two stu­dents from the school whom we felt were good am­bas­sadors of the school. We wanted to pick sixth year stu­dents to sig­nify that their ed­u­ca­tion with us was com­ing to a close.

‘Lau­ren and Michael are both good up­stand­ing role mod­els for stu­dents and very good am­bas­sadors for the school. They were de­lighted to be picked to represent the school and know it is a huge hon­our.’

Lau­ren who hails from Bal­ly­gar­rett and Michael who comes from Mount Alexan­der in Gorey were a pop­u­lar choice for the stamp.

Mr Finn said that in ad­di­tion to be­ing a great hon­our for Michael and Lau­ren it was a great hon­our for Gorey Com­mu­nity School.

‘We were re­ally happy to be cho­sen. It is a great recog­ni­tion for the school as both the largest sec­ond level school in the coun­try and also the diver­si­fi­ca­tion that is seen here.

‘As a com­mu­nity school there is a di­verse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion here which em­bod­ies the im­por­tance as­pect of ed­u­ca­tion and the im­por­tance of diver­si­fi­ca­tion. We have stu­dents here of all abil­i­ties and so­cial back­grounds and there is a won­der­ful mix of peo­ple.

‘Be­ing such a large school en­ables us to sup­port that diver­si­fi­ca­tion’, he said.

With just un­der 1,600 stu­dents en­rolled in the school Gorey Com­mu­nity School is the largest com­mu­nity school in the coun­try.

Donogh O’Mal­ley joined the Fianna Fail cabi­net as Min­is­ter for Health fol­low­ing the Gen­eral Election of 1966. He re­placed Pa­trick Hillery as Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion one year later and acted im­me­di­ately to in­tro­duce the rec­om­men­da­tions of an of­fi­cial De­part­ment re­port of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Shortly af­ter his ap­point­ment he an­nounced that from 1969 ed­u­ca­tion to In­ter­me­di­ate Cer­tifi­cate level would be free.

It is widely ac­cepted that the in­tro­duc­tion of free sec­ond level ed­u­ca­tion changed the face of mod­ern Ire­land fun­da­men­tally. Re­ports of the time in­di­cate that about a third of all chil­dren fin­ished pri­mary school were drop­ping out of ed­u­ca­tion al­to­gether. At fif­teen years of age fewer than 50 per cent were still in full time ed­u­ca­tion. By age six­teen, only 36 per cent were still at school.

An­other re­forms ini­ti­ated by Min­is­ter O’Mal­ley was the ex­ten­sion of the school trans­port scheme. The com­mem­o­ra­tive stamp and First day Cover (FDC) are avail­able from main post of­fices, from the stamp coun­ters at Dublin’s GPO or on­line at www.irish­stamps.ie

Lau­ren Dench and Michael Duke, pupils of Gorey Com­mu­nity School who fea­ture on a stamp.

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