OCD Awareness Week

Here at St Louis we’re always keen to raise awareness of mental health – just a few days ago the Year 10 boys attended a workshop for World Mental Health Day, and if you scroll back through the blog you’ll find more great articles by our blogging team on mental health. Today we’re looking at raising awareness about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

More and more people are starting to realise the impact our mental health can have on our lives, but it’s not all depression and anxiety. This week is OCD Awareness Week, a global campaign to raise awareness and understanding of OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It was launched in 2009 by the International OCD Foundation and aims to educate people in the hopes of removing the stigma that can be caused by misunderstanding.

It’s estimated that between 1-2% of people have OCD, yet many people still hold the belief that OCD is just a ‘quirky’ personality trait: the co-worker who likes to keep their workspace tidy and hates the thought of mess, or the pupil who’s ‘a bit OCD’ because they keep their notes in a neatly organised folder. As Christmas approaches we all see the Facebook posts of hundreds of people all professing to have OCD: Obsessive Christmas Disorder, and we’re all familiar with the countless meme pages that claim will drive your OCD mad, all because they post pictures of uneven tiling or crooked paintings. Of course, none of these truly depict OCD, but year after year this false image prevails.

So what is it really?

OCD is an anxiety disorder that consists of obsessions – repetitive unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, images or urges that cause feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease – and compulsions – a repetitive behaviour or mental act carried out to try and relieve these feelings. Fears of uncleanliness and contamination are often seen as the hallmark of OCD, but while these are common obsessions, they are far from the only symptoms. Some other common compulsions include checking things, such as light switches or locks; avoiding certain things such as cracks on the pavement to abate anxieties similar to superstitions; and hoarding things just in case they might be useful later.

Living with OCD can be a constant battle, but we can all do our part to help. If you know someone with OCD, one of the best ways to help is just to be understanding – often one of the biggest issues is negative attitudes towards a condition they can’t control. It’s time to do our bit to combat the stigma; be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

For more information on OCD, you can check out the NHS website, the charity OCD Action or the charity Mind.


Banning Books! Still?

Good news for book lovers; bad news for censorship.

Last Sunday (24th September) marked the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International to celebrate intellectual freedom and raise awareness of individuals who are “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.”

Hundreds of books are “challenged” – an attempt to remove them from libraries or the curriculum –every year over content. Four of the most commonly challenged books in the United States are on the new GCSE English Literature syllabus, while eight are on this year’s A Level syllabus. Everyone who’s done their GCSEs has read “Of Mice and Men”, and yet none of it has done us any damage. Our eyes didn’t fall out of our head, our minds have not been corrupted by the senseless horrors of rural 1930s America and we’ve moved on with our lives.

So why are so many books challenged every year?
The most frequently cited reasons are that the material is “sexually explicit”, contains “offensive language” or is “unsuited to any age group”. Perhaps this is understandable. After all, there are some things that are undeniably unsuited for certain audiences – no one wants to hear that The Exorcist has just been added to the Year 8 syllabus. Many critics of Banned Books Week even argue that despite its name, most of the books highlighted are merely challenged, not banned.

However, there is a more nefarious side to these challenges. Half of the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016 were challenged for reasons that included “LGBT content”, which provokes a controversial discussion over human rights and what constitutes ‘inappropriate’, an issue that Amnesty International is eager to highlight. Each year on its website, it documents “focus cases”, which show that while these challenges may not seem a big deal to us, such attitudes have real implications around the world where individuals are reportedly killed, incarcerated, or otherwise harassed by national authorities for the material they produce.
We also have to consider the issue of censorship – who gets to decide what is acceptable to read and why? Where do we draw the line? Do these challenges violate our freedom of speech, and where will it end? I’ll leave that for you to decide, but if there’s one thing we should take away from Banned Books Week, it’s to appreciate the freedoms we have and fight for those without.


New Bus Park!

St Louis paves the way for parking.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month I’m sure you’ve noticed the construction work going on in the development of our new bus lane and parking area. There has been much controversy over this project, from its initiation in May/June up to today, mainly because of the lack of information given to us about just what exactly is going on!

Now before you go off on a rant about how the money would be better spent on books or paper or even printing credits, you should know that it was a matter of safety for numbers, or, better put, safety in figures.

The money the school received was a grant specifically for the new bus lane and parking initiative. Anyone who had to get the bus last year will know how dangerous the system was, it was a miracle no one got run over! Luckily the inspectors thought so too and our school was awarded the necessary funding.

Now I’m not saying the new system is perfect, but practice makes perfect and once construction is completed we should see a much less hectic home time that runs efficiently and, more importantly, more safely.

Healthier Living

The importance of Healthy Eating and Small Changes

We are all aware of how having a poor diet is associated with many health risks that can cause serious illnesses, such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. Looking around our canteen and even at break time you can see how poor pupils’ diets actually are.

Our school has gone a long way to addressing some of the issues that exist through poor diet. We took out the Coke machines and replaced them with water, we are a nut-free school and our canteen offers salad with every meal. Is it enough?

Our students and parents need to support us in changing attitudes to food. By making small changes to your diet and making smart food choices you can help protect yourself from these health problems. If you begin to make small changes to your diet now such as having a healthy nutritious breakfast each day you can slowly begin to get healthier and this can lead to you staying healthy throughout your life.

By making small changes and taking small steps to be healthier you will begin to get all the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, active and strong. Making small changes to your diet and amount of physical activity you do can go a long way, and it’s easier than you may think.

The link between good nutrition, a healthy weight and a reduced risk of chronic diseases and overall health is too important to ignore, let alone the difference it makes to brain function and concentration so start making small changes each day even if it is only changing what you have for breakfast every day!

Breakfast Idea:
Whole – wheat toast with almond butter and banana.

•Slice of 100% whole wheat bread
•1 TBSP almond butter
•1/2 banana sliced

Put the bread in the toaster, spread the almond butter on top and then slice the banana and place it on top of the toast.

This filling meal is packed full of potassium, fibre, calcium and protein.

Bananas are full of potassium, and naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium.

The best health benefit of almond butter it’s good for your heart and it is rich in monounsaturated fats. It also provides you with energy throughout the day. Don’t be afraid of including good fats in your diet, we need it for energy. Sugars hidden in every day foods is much more of a concern.

Keep it clean,

European Day of Language

Hola, dia duit, bonjour, hallo!

It’s that time of year: European Day of Languages is upon us again. Back for its fifteenth consecutive year, the European Day of Languages is an incredibly successful initiative created to celebrate linguistic diversity in Europe.

Those pupils returning to the school will probably be aware of it as it’s celebrated annually in school, and for those just joining the school – yes, you will have to sit through films you don’t understand every year, and yes, you will be offered to try food that sounds… less than appetising to say the least. For some it’s a fun excuse to get out of class, but it shouldn’t end there.

Did you know there are over two hundred European languages? Or that according to a survey published by the European Commission, 51% of people in the EU are at least conversational in English? The number of people in the UK who are able to speak a second language dwindles in comparison – just 38% of people in the UK can speak a second language.

So why is it so important? Well, as any careers adviser will tell you – just ask Mrs Devlin! – language skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. More than a third of companies (36%) hire employees specifically for their language skills and not just those who are fluent in another language. Most employers (an incredible 74%) are more likely to hire those who are even just conversational in a second language.

And besides that, languages can be fun! I know, I know, you’re probably shaking your head. “Who wants to learn verb tenses?… Participles give me a headache… and not to mention all those gendered nouns”. I get it, trust me, there are still times I wonder what ever convinced me to take a language for A Level, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and hey, you probably know more than you realised: just take a look at this short advert by the Irish language initiative, Líofa.

Now that I’ve convinced you (and if I haven’t, humour me. Who knows? You could end up finding your new favourite hobby or the vital skill needed for your future career) how can you go about learning more about languages?

Well, the official website of the European Day of Languages is a good place to start. It offers more information about the annual event, language quizzes and games, language trivia and other fun resources to start you off.

Another personal favourite of mine is Duolingo, which is also available as an app on Android and Apple devices. It offers twenty different languages for English speakers, with many more currently in development. Finally, we have a wonderful language department here at the school, with many dedicated teachers who are always willing to offer a hand to those in need.

So what are you waiting for?

¡Vámonos! Ar aghaidh linn! Allons-y!

And good luck to everyone with their efforts!


Why so Blue?

Boosting mental health in winter months.

Why do we feel bad in the colder, darker winter months?

The main reason why we feel blue in the darker times of the year is because there isn’t a lot of sunlight getting past the thick, winter clouds and this causes our bodies to feel lethargic, down and grumpy due to us not getting enough Vitamin D in our bodies. It can be hard to stay cheerful when the days are short, the nights are long and the temperatures are low so do not blame yourself! This is quite common.

How can we feel better without moving to Florida?

Below are a couple of things you can do to brighten the gloomy days:

1. Make A Journal
When you are feeling down and are not sure why, a simple self-reflective exercise can help you to take control of your mood. Start by setting aside fifteen minutes to write down everything that is bothering you, whether these sources of stress and unhappiness are significant or small. By doing this, you are eliminating the amount of stress you’re experiencing because these feelings are no longer just in your head.

2. Don’t take a nap
Although this is one of the many things you can do to avoid your problems, it is actually proven that napping makes you feel worse! Despite it feeling as though it may be a temporary fix. Instead, you could go outside for a short walk or even to get some fresh air if you’re stuck inside all day.

3. Be healthy!
This is one of the most cliché things that you could find in a list like this but trust me, being healthy on the outside is a guaranteed way to be healthy on the inside. You could start by going for a short walk after school (instead of that nap you would much prefer), or you could make an attempt to eat better by making a smoothie a couple of days a week or including the veg that you would most likely say no to when dinner is being served.

4. Vitamin D Supplement
Another thing you can do if you are feeling down is look into buying Vitamin D supplements. These will be found in the medicine section of most chemists/common drugstores and they are just a simple way to boost how you feel throughout the day.

5. Take Care of Yourself
There are many ways in which you can use simple things to boost your mood in the evenings:
• Shower every evening/take a bath once a week to make sure you are clean and fresh
• Watch your favourite show (not excessively in one night!)
• Have your favourite snack (everything in moderation!)
• Buy yourself somethin’ nice – go out for a good meal with your friends, buy pamper accessories or buy new clothes
• Try and forget about school every once in a while – no one needs that stress!
• And most importantly:

“Treat Yo’Self!”

Welcome Year 8s!!

How to survive year 8!

Coming into secondary school as a year 8 student is a very daunting experience. It is a huge change from primary school and can often leave pupils feeling stressed. I sat down and talked to year 8 student Mia Morgan to find out her thoughts about year 8 and what year 8’s are struggling with. She told me that getting the bus is often scary, making new friends is intimidating and overall the first year is a hard experience. So I’m here to help year 8’s to get through the first year with my top tips!

  1. Other first years are just as scared as you are, so don’t worry about talking to them as they are going through the exact same thing.
  2. The goal isn’t to have as many friends as you can in school, you’ll be much happier with a small group of small friends that will stick by you throughout the years
  3. Sounds cheesy but stick to your true self. There’s no need to change yourself and your personality to fit in with others, be yourself no matter what.
  4. Stay organised! From the get go make sure you keep your work in separate folders and always record and check homework tasks in your planner.
  5. As students find the bus scary, try to find a friend in your year or the year above that gets your bus to make sure you get on the bus and have someone there for you.
  6. Finally if you feel like you need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to talk to a member of the blog team, Miss King or any member of staff that you feel comfortable around!!!

Good Luck!

Congratulations for getting here

Above all…enjoy, it goes all too fast.


University Interview tips!

Moving On!

As I’m sure you’re all aware, it’s interview season at the universities! I had my first interview of three for Broadcast Journalism last week in Glasgow Caledonian University and, believe me,  it is a nerve-wracking experience.

I’ve put together some tips for anyone looking for help or advice in the run up to your interviews!

  • Find out what form the interview will take: is it a group or individual interview? In many cases it’ll be a one on one interview, but in the case for my interview for Salford next week, it’ll be a group interview.

Some courses may look for you to complete an entrance exam, some of these you cannot study for! If it is for Journalism, look at events that happened over the past year. My current affairs exam asked me to name the typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2013 and who was the founder of Glastonbury Festival!

For more vocational courses like Veterinary or Medicine a good understanding and application of scientific knowledge is key.

Revise for weeks beforehand!

You want to impress them!

  • Prepare!! – Never underestimate the importance of preperation. Although you don’t know the exact questions they will ask you, you can definitely prepare a few sample answers.


  • Many interviews will ask you about information in your personal statement; prehaps what you did exactly during work experience. They may ask you about after-school activities or hobbies you enjoy. It’s important to fully explain every answer and show them that you are suitable for their course.


  • Of course, the question they always ask, “Why do you want to do _____?”. Give a full explanation! This is your chance to show them that you’re fully committed to this course and talk a little about where you would like to end up. For Journalism, I mentioned my love of reading when I was younger and how that eventually led me to creating a hand-made newspaper for my neighbourhood. The University want you to show them that this isn’t just an alternative choice, it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life!


  • If need be, plan a mock interview with a senior teacher. They want you to succeed just as much as you do!


  • Ask questions at the end. I unfortunately forgot the questions I wanted to ask, but now have a few written down! It never hurts to enquire more about the course you’re applying for. It shows your interest and it’ll demonstrate that you’ve done your research about the course. How many holidays you get would not be the best way to impress them with your work ethic.


  • On the day of the interview, remember to get plenty of sleep! I got four hours before mine and I felt exhausted by the time my interview came around, no matter how much caffeine I had!  I had to wake up at half four to get my flight, go to bed early and don’t stay up all night beforehand worrying. It will never go as badly as you think it will!


  • Dress appropriately for the interview. Something that isn’t too formal, but nothing too casual. One guy at mine came in a suit whereas someone else turned up in jeans and a hoodie. You want to show them that you’re mature and although it is superficial, Universities do judge you on how you look – it’s their first impression of you.


  • Try to relax! Take some deep breaths! Just show them what you know, why you’re the perfect candidate for this course. If it doesn’t go well, don’t worry about it too much! Many interviews are used as a way of challenging candidates. Every interview is a new experience, if you do badly in one, ask yourself what went wrong and improve on it for your next one.


  • Be yourself – interviewers want to know about you, not just what tips you’ve read off the internet! (How ironic!)


  • And finally, don’t worry about whether you’re offered a place or not afterwards! Most universities will take a few months to respond. You have done the best you could do, use it as a learning experience. If you’re declined an offer, ask them why. Usually they do give a reason but you can ring up the course director and ask them further in detail. Use it to improve for future interviews!

Remember eye contact and smiling is important!

Good Luck!


– Jessica


To quell the inevitable start-of-term blues, the St Louis students of music, drama and art were treated to a bewitching matinee performance of Stephen Schwartz’s hit musical Wicked. The 9th January saw reams of excited students descending upon the cutting-edge Bord Gais Theatre in the heart of Dublin’s bustling docklands.

The Bord Gais itself was a magnificent piece of architecutre, extremely modernist from the outside but decadent with the plush red seats and gold filigree befitting of only the finest of theatres. The St Louis crowd were sat in the Upper Circle (watch out for nosebleeds!) but the seats were perfect for taking in the colossal stage with its glittering set.

From the moment the show started it was obvious that it was going to be spectacular; with catchy hits such as “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” and a plot twist to silence even the most cynical; the audience was spellbound. It truly was a delight to watch, and aided the music, drama and art students in their knowledge of how a stage show works.

After the show, there was a quick stop to the Apple Green for a bite to eat before everyone trundled home, still singing the numbers at the tops of their voices, much to the teachers’ delight…

Thank you to Mrs McDonagh and all the other teachers (Mr Brown, Mrs Cunningham and Miss Keary) who helped organise everything!


St Louis Charity Single

As I’m sure many of you are aware, the people of the Philippines were hit by Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month. With up to 10,000 said to be dead, homes and schools wiped out, and nearly all roads blocked, everyone is doing what they can to aid those in need. Including us here at St Louis.


Our school has yet again joined forces with SERVE, a charitable organisation committed to tackling poverty. SERVE have close connections to Tacloban, one of the many affected areas in the Philippines. In true St Louis fashion we chose to go down a more musical route and record a charity single in order to raise money for Serve. The single ‘Now I Know’ was written by Mr Brown, his wife Catherine and Mrs McDonagh and truly captures the essence of the cause and how we can help. The track was sung by Sarah Toner, Declan Clarke, Stephan Rafferty, Conall Keaveney and myself, Ciara Leneghan and the St. Louis choir.


The school has been buzzing with the release of the single on the schools youtube page and on Friday the 22nd of November, the senior students of the music technology classes will be paying a visit to Kevin McAllister at Q Radio to have a chat, play a few songs and most importantly raise awareness of the charity single so we can get as many people as possible on board to help the cause! So be sure to tune in!


On behalf of all those involved in the making of the single and the people at SERVE we would like to thank everyone who has donated so far. And if that’s not you, get donating!!!


Check out the video for the single here!





 Just a few of the people involved with the St Louis charity single- Now You Know

From left Mrs McDonagh, Sarah, Mr Loye, Ciara, r Brown, Steven
From left Mrs McDonagh, Sarah, Mr Loye, Ciara, r Brown, Steven