THE third class pupils of Our Lady of Mercy Primary School swapped their usual classroom chairs on Thursday, June 20, for the illustrious chairs of Waterford City & County Council Chambers. The girls had completed the six-week Junior Achievement programme called “Our City” so were awarded with certificates, and the opportunity to sit in for our usual city and county councillors.
On the day, the certs were handed out by Deputy Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr Seamus Ryan who told the girls that he had a very special connection to the Mercy School.
“My mother, my grandmother, my seven sisters and my wife all went to the Mercy,” Cllr Ryan said. “I went to Mount Sion but I used to pass the Mercy on my way to and from school every day so you say that I definitely have a special affinity with it.”
Cllr Ryan chatted to the girls about everything they learned from the programme, which was facilitated by Junior Achievement volunteer, and Waterford News & Star reporter Darren Skelton. They were only too happy to tell him that they now knew all about planning zones, advertising, marketing and how banks work. Cllr Ryan was suitably impressed.
“Junior Achievement is a very important addition to our Primary School education,” Cllr Ryan said. “When I was in school we had a subject called Civics, which was quite narrow but very important. I see Junior Achievement as a kind of expansion of that allowing young people to find out more about how our cities and towns work, how local government works and also how local businesses work.”
Third class teacher Deirdre Atkins said that they were delighted to be involved with the programme.
“When we were offered the opportunity to participate with Junior Achievement, we jumped at the chance, knowing the programme would be delivered by fully trained business volunteers,” Ms Atkins said. “Darren Skelton worked with us and we all learned so much, with topics ranging from city planning, zoning and advertising. All the content was delivered in a fun and engaging manner and was pitched just at the girls’ level. As class teacher, I was very impressed with the programme, which concluded with a trip to City Hall. Without a doubt, Junior Achievement was a highlight of a very busy year and I would definitely recommend this valuable learning experience to others.”
The pupils themselves were keen to share their experiences.
“In class we learned about all the different city zones and what each one is called. We also learned what different things go into each one,” said Dora. “After a few weeks we went down to the Deputy Mayor and talked a little bit more about the city plans. Then we talked about our city, Waterford. I thought it was great fun and an interesting experience.”
“I thought it was a really fun adventure and cool, because you got to see where the city planner planned all the areas of the city,” said Saoirse. “When we were with Darren we did really fun activities like opening our own restaurant, building our own restaurant and making advertisements. We also learned about the different zones, for example we had farming/agriculture, residential, multi-purpose, industrial and business. It was great fun.”
“I thought the course was great fun and that I learned a lot about city planning, the councillors and the different zones,” said Simone. “I think it would be nice if other classes could do the same course. The trip to City Hall was also great fun because we got to sit on the Mayor’s chair and pretend we were the Mayor!”
Helen Halpin, Junior Achievement Coordinator explained the importance of Junior Achievement in our city’s schools.
“Over the course of the school year we have around 150 volunteers from a range of companies across Waterford City such as Bausch + Lomb, Sanofi, Dawn Meats, AIB and many more,” Helen said. “We’re delighted to have them on board because without their support we wouldn’t be able to deliver these programmes, which have been proven time and time again to be of great help and support to the primary school pupils.”