Pets As Presents?

Christmas is nearing, and people are rushing about searching the internet for present ideas. What present can I get for my sister? My uncle? My son? It’s a steady pace of ‘What if’s” filling every person’s head. Everyone wants to know what the perfect gift is. Then they think; what if they don’t like it? What if someone else already got it for them? What if I embarrass myself?

In some cases, despite all the reminders, people buy puppies as presents for children. But have these parents forgotten the struggle of keeping their child constantly entertained? Children get bored easily, they’ll play with toys for a couple days and then want different ones. They don’t understand the concept of being grateful, of accepting a present at Christmas that they don’t like, without causing havoc by crying. They don’t quite comprehend the effort people put in to get the perfect presents for their family members.

The majority of the population love puppies, kittens and rabbits. Anything small, fluffy and cute seems to appeal to people. I just feel that in the rush of dread that some people feel when it comes to December, they tend to think impulsively. Most children like puppies and kittens, but some people just don’t realise the effort you have to put in, in order to look after these pets.

Those puppies grow up. If they aren’t trained, they bark and growl and rip up your furniture. Some dogs like to jump up on children, some are protective of their food, some will show their teeth and threaten to bite you. I’m not saying that’s the case with all dogs though. Some are sweet and shy.

I remember one night when I sat down with my family to watch this film about dogs. At the end it was revealed that the mean dog had been a Christmas present for a little boy and the boy didn’t want it, so the dog was thrown out onto the cold streets filled with winter snow. That’s how it turned into the evil nemesis of the film. It was heart-breaking.

I just feel that cruelty is a common thing in the lives of pets, specifically with people who don’t know how to look after their pets. When someone doesn’t know how to look after an animal, they tend to mistreat it. It’s not fair on the animals that have to deal with the pain and suffering of neglect. It’s not fair that they have to deal with the cruelty and mistreatment of an uneducated or careless owner. It’s not fair that families could be so irresponsible to an animal just because the child gets bored.

Adopting a dog is like adopting another family member, but people don’t seem to see it that way. Dogs cost money after they are bought. Dog’s cost you time to train them. They cost you your attention. Pets aren’t just a toy you can buy for your child, but a living-breathing animal that needs just as much affection as a child.

The old adage remains true “a pet is for life not just for Christmas” bear this in mind in your letters to Santa.



Now that I would love to write,
Something as memorable as a symphony,
The flow of the semi quavers and the lowering and raising of octaves,
The melody coming through in valiant roar of strings,
The Brass providing little insights into the story being told,
The wild percussion telling of the coming storm,
And the orchestra itself,
On stage like a great author,
Each part intertwined to weave a masterful tale,
I think I would like to write music.


Stranger Things- Believe The Hype!

Stranger things 2: Is it over hyped?

Recently, Stranger things 2 was dropped and, the heads of fans almost exploded at the sight of the notification telling them they could start watching. Last year when the show premiered people were quite slow to hop on the Stranger Things hype train, including me, but oh… how that changed.

In case that you have a life outside of Netflix and have no idea what the show is about let me give you a brief run down.

In Hawkins Indiana in around 1983, a young boy goes missing after a game of Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. The town fears the worst as they band together to find Will, they think it’s a common missing persons case where the person will never show up again and have fallen victim to some sort of hideous crime. However, this isn’t an ordinary missing persons case, Will is actually transported to a parallel dimension named the “Upside Down” by the children and the only people who can save him are those closest to him.

At the same time an unusual your girl with the strange name, Eleven, escapes from Hawkins lab (naturally this town has a mysterious, government-run lab). She has been experimented on ever since she was a baby as she is incredibly gifted. She can manipulate objects with her mind, in one episode she flipped a car which blew my mind. This backstory was inspired by true events (the experimenting on people that is, not car flipping to be clear). In the 80s MK Ultra was a pretty big thing, it was a covert CIA programme started in the early 1950s, it expanded its remit to research everything from mind control to telepathy, ESP, psychic warfare and “remote viewing” and used children as special agents.

As you can imagine with all the hype and overused Halloween costumes spawning from the show, season one was amazing. However, can the same be said about season two? My answer is I truly don’t know. While watching season one, I was already off the edge of my seat, bawling on the floor, screaming at the TV while covered in popcorn. Conversely, while I watched season 2 (which I had anticipated for over a year) I just well… watched. Some moments were spectacular, yet some were just bland, and honestly, I can’t decide on whether I agree with the statement that it was better than season one.

When I finished the season two, I felt content. I was not clawing at the screen searching for a new episode I was just simply happy. I felt like it was good ending and if the show somehow couldn’t carry on with a new season, I wouldn’t be upset because I am perfectly satisfied with the conclusion. Which, now that bothers me because I shouldn’t be, in my opinion a good TV show should leave me actively involved, rambling continuously to family members about it and eagerly counting down the days until the next episode release.

So, does this mean its over hyped and a let-down? No, it was still great, action packed and entertaining. My criticism is, that they should not try to please the fans too much. Almost every character received a happy ending (except for Bob, justice for Bob he did not deserve that, and while we are at it justice for Barb too #RIP) and while that made me happy for them because I am way too emotionally involved in every single character, I don’t want another season that will likely dismantle all that joy.

To conclude my point because as I always tend to do with TV shows, movies and books, I am rambling. Stranger Things two wasn’t over hyped, it can’t be overhyped because it genuinely is amazing. The acting was outstanding from all cast members, the cinematography was beautiful, and the storyline was incredibly well done. It was just too safe. It felt like at some points a naïve fan girl/boy was writing a happy and fluffy fan fiction about the show, when in reality, things don’t always go so smoothly, for example not every character can be partnered up with a love interest. With this all being said I am ready for season three, I am ready to be heart broken (again), bring it on Duffer brothers.


Ode to Dogs

Dogs. They’re the best. If you tell me otherwise I’d have to disagree.

They’re the most loyal and loving cute companions to have; it makes my day brighten when my dogs try to cheer me up after a dreadful day, by running around the house or giddily barking and growling at me to play with them. Petting dogs makes you more relaxed, making them fundamentally THE best distraction when you’re stressed, I know during my summer exams my dogs were my go-to when I wanted to scream over all the work that had to be done and the stress was piling up.

They’re called “man’s best friend” for a reason you know, acting as guide dogs for the blind and emotional support friends for the nervous. Whenever I see a smiling Samoyed or a cheerful Corgi my heart melts and I instantly think “we don’t deserve dogs”. My own dogs bring so much joy to my life that when I see other doggos, whether on my screen or in person, I like think of the joy they’re bringing to their owners life. If you look after your dog, your dog will look after you – I would say that’s a fair trade!

If you’re reading this article and you have your very own pup, please go and pet your ball of fluff, call them a good boy and give their belly a good rub.



Concern critically concerned about youth’s involvement in the developing world.

On Thursday the 16th of November four students from St. Louis and St. Pauls will come together for a Concern debate on whether or not ‘Young people today are indifferent to the problems of the developing world’. On our own team there is myself, Claire, Aine and our esteemed captain, Matthew. Right now we are running around like headless chickens rushing to get speeches perfected, delivery practiced and coordinating what our main argument is. We are supposed to oppose the motion therefore we need to make a case for the argument that young people are not indifferent to world issues.

I know every debate team thinks this, but I truly do believe we have the better argument however the other team may prove me wrong. The true beauty of the situation is that the other team basically must roast themselves to win. They have to have proof that young people are lazy and couldn’t care less about the developing world. When all they have to do is look at themselves: they are young people a part of a debate team, taking part in concern debates and Concern is a humanitarian organisation. They themselves are involved in promoting conversation about the developing world, I mean the first motion this year was heavily focused on the developing world.

Even in our schools there  examples of young people getting involved all the time. All schools in Northern Ireland are now registered on the Eco-Schools Programme and within our own school St. Louis many students in all year groups are actively involved. Eco-Schools is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education that aims to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs.

Furthermore St. Louis organizes a jersey day every year with proceeds going to GOAL which aids those in developing countries this year raising over £800. Some young people even get their hands dirty and travel straight to the developing world, past pupils Fiona Cunningham, Niamh McDonald, current Year 14 Emma Cousins and Elizabeth Trail, travelled to India and Romania with Habitat for Humanity and took park in building safe homes and healthy toilets. Not only does this show that young people are aware in the developing world, but they are also involved.

So now we wait until the debate, I am excited as now this will be my second debate this year and I love the thrill you get out of it. All my team can do now is practise our speeches and wait until the clock hits eight.


Hallowe’en Decorations a preparation for Christmas Overkill!

Hectic Over-Decorators Hit Halloween Hard

You see it every year: Creepy skeletons hanging from the windows; Giant spiders running up the walls; Dragons spouting from the mouths of houses!

I’ve never really been extremely impressed by an abundance of Halloween decorations littering a house. Maybe that’s because my house at Halloween usually has a single candle-lit pumpkin by the doorstep – and usually the light inside it has blown out.

I can only imagine the amount of Christmas decorations those houses will be drowning in the day after Halloween is over. But what is the point? I can’t say I’ve ever disliked looking at houses covered in decorations, but the thought of spending all that time to put them up makes me wince.

I guess I don’t see the point in over-decorating your house with zombies in the garden, or ghosts hanging from the trees, because to be completely honest, decorations aren’t at all scary. What’s the point of taking that much effort on decorations to scare people, when nobody is going to get scared? There’s no use trying to persuade me. We both know that decorations aren’t at all frightful. What’s frightful is horror books and films, what’s frightful is a monster coming to life, what’s frightful is real fear that instils the idea that maybe, tonight is my last.

If you can tell me what’s actually frightful about a plastic ghost dangling from a tree, then go ahead. Cover my house in Halloween decorations for all I care! It just amuses me how obsessive we are getting over holidays. Do you even know where Halloween originated? Ireland. Halloween came from Irish, British and French people being so terrified of ghosts and ghouls that they thought putting a candle-lit pumpkin on their doorstep would scare off their vivid-imaginations.

Halloween seems more like a competition now a days. Ever since America started glamourizing it, it almost seems like we’ve become addicted to the competition. America seems very over-the-top when it comes to decorations, and slowly, this ideal of having the best Halloween home has trickled into Irish communities.

I don’t mind, honestly. It doesn’t hurt me in the slightest to snap a picture of an extravagant house design, involving rows of pumpkins, a fake dead man, and a giant bloody shovel lying at the feet of a plastic doll. These things only amuse me. I think that everyone has the right to do whatever they want on Halloween, just don’t overdo yourself to the point where you don’t want to leave the house on the night of Halloween.

After all- the big one is right round the corner and we all want the big man with the beard and the “Ho-ho-ho!” to know exactly where to drop off our presents, so let’s not waste our energy on Hallowe’en- Keep it for Christmas!


Dealing with Assessments

Assessment 1 has come and gone, and I’m sure you were all as nervous for them as I was. There’s something about the first Assessment of the year that’s so intimidating – especially if you have a new teacher, or maybe you have just started your GCSE’s or A Levels. Your first Assessment of the year, and the result you receive will usually give teachers an outline of where you are in your understanding of the subject. This is the result they will base your target grades on.

Here are my top ten tips for surviving and learning from your assessments.

Tip 1 – Distractions

Now I know everyone tells you this tip. Teachers advised it, my parents advised it, the internet even advised it, (which is ironic.) The advice was simple, turn off your phone to avoid distractions. Now I know it’s not always as simple as that. When I wanted to quickly look something up on google while I was revising I’d have to wait for my phone to switch back on and then I’d inevitably get distracted by it. So what did I do?

First, I worked out what apps were the biggest distractions – Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest. It was simple after that, I deleted the apps from my phone. I knew my account wouldn’t be harmed, and I was too lazy to go through the effort of downloading the apps back on my phone and logging in. This way I could use google and my phones calculator without getting temporarily distracted.Revising

Tip 2 – Rewards

It’s so frustrating to study when you have absolutely no motivation to do it. Recently I was scrolling through the internet, distracting myself from the studying at hand. I just couldn’t seem to concentrate on the studying I had to do. Then, as if by magic, a picture appeared on my screen. It was simple really, layering chocolate bars through the notes you had to revise. A reward system that actually meant something to me.

Now that is the way to revise!
Now that is the way to revise!

Trying to reward myself with five minutes on my phone had never worked, because five minutes would turn into ten, and then an hour, followed by two. This system was perfect, and I haven’t looked back.

Tip 3 – Where are you revising?

People always say that where you revise impacts your ability to revise properly. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is true. Everyone always makes finding a quiet spot in your house sound so simple and easy. Not everyone has that opportunity.

I always find it hard to revise, and continue to lose concentration as I have a large family and every room in my house is always occupied. Please, if you have the opportunity to study in a quiet spot, take it. It makes such a huge different with your ability to be productive. Distracting yourself by talking to your siblings, parents or friends is just as bad as sitting on your phone, procrastinating.

Tip 4 – Positivity

Try to be positive when it comes to revision. It’s hard to revise with a negative mindset. How can someone be productive and even feel at all motivated, when all they can concentrate on is the pile of revision they have to do?

Try to break it down. Think positively and set small goals. What’s the point of stressing yourself out?

The more time you spend staring into space and worrying about how to combat the task at hand, the longer your overall revision will take. Start working! No one’s going to do the revision for you. I know that the worst feeling is procrastinating over and over until eventually you’ve so much to do it’s hard to even attempt it at all. I know what it feels like, it sucks. But thinking positively about your situation will lift your spirits.

Tip 5 – Past Papers

I always used to struggle with ICT – I was an average D Grade student in Theory. But as soon as my teacher recommended past papers to me, I tried them out. Past papers make such a difference, because it gives you the opportunity to get experience answering the sort of questions that will be on your exam. It also lets you see your mistakes, and shows you what you should be answering for questions you struggle with.

After I started using past papers, I received my GCSE results to find I achieved a B Grade in ICT Theory, an A overall.

The only thing is that you need to make sure you use them correctly- don’t just copy out mark schemes, you really are only fooling yourself.

Tip 6 – Enough Sleep?

Be honest with yourself, do you get enough sleep? I didn’t. I would stay up to one or wo in the morning, doing homework and revision I could have easily done when I got home from school. I’m glad to say I’ve changed my habits.

Getting enough sleep actually makes it easier to get up in the morning. I never knew how much easier it is to get out of bed if you keep to a strict sleeping. It impacts your school classes and focus levels, especially for morning classes. Sometimes it’s better to sleep on the revision you’ve done, rather than send an extra hour on it. It’s not going to benefit you.

Tip 7 – Study Timetable

I’m guilty of not using this tip until last year. I’ve never been the most organised person in the world when it came to laying out a plan on what to revise for. Once I started making one, I didn’t feel the pressure of having to figure out what revision have I done? What do I have to do? Which tests are coming up?

You don’t need anything extravagant. What I stuck to is a simple calendar-type timetable. I wrote out the subjects I should study each day for the month before my exams. It was basic. It made my life so much easier. 

Tip 8 – Start Revision Early

Let’s face it, revision isn’t fun. No one enjoys it, but if you start early you’ll spread it out and it won’t seem so intimidating. I know it doesn’t sound fun to start revising months before, but I can promise that you won’t regret it. Even taking the time once a week to make some revision notes on different subjects all throughout the year, can extremely lesson the amount of revision you have to conquer once your tests arrive. Making notes about a topic that’s fresh in your mind is a lot easier too!

Tip 9 – Morning before the exam

This tip is less of a revision tip, and more of a pre-test anxiety tip. Usually when you come to school ready for the exam within the next hour, you’ll huddle up with a bunch of nervous other students. All of you will state how little revision you’ve done and how you’re so worried because, ‘Becca told me they’ve raised the grade boundaries for this year’s test,’ and ‘I heard this test is supposed to be the hardest yet, because last year everyone got A’s.’

Let me make a recommendation. Did you know that the best time to absorb information is early in the morning? For me, I take that thirty-minute gap I have before my exam to read over all my notes, and there’s always something that pops up that I forgot all about. Every single time I go into an exam, there is always a question that I wouldn’t have been able to answer if I had not quickly skimmed my revision notes before the test began. 

Tip 10 – What sort of learner are you?

Finally, something you should consider before you even begin revision is, what sort of learner are you? Visual, verbal or kinaesthetic? Most of the time people aren’t even aware of these terms. Revising properly suited to your learning style can greatly impact how well you absorb the information.

For example, I know I am a visual learner. I find it the easiest to absorb information by making notes on information and reading over it. Colourful, aesthetically pleasing revision notes are extremely compatible with my learning style. On the contrary I know someone who finds revision the easiest by recording themselves speaking the information out loud, this is auditory learning. They record them speaking the revision notes they need to learn on their phone and listen to it, as it absorbs better into their head. This is because it’s their learning style.

To get a better understanding of the three different learning styles I recommend the link below.

Good luck, have fun revising and learn from your mistakes.


Setting aside differences and picking up the paddles! TBUC 2017

Due to generous funding, a group of Stlouis and Kilkeel high students had the wonderful opportunity to spend four days together on a residential.

The event took place in the Shared Village, Enniskillen, starting Tuesday the 10th of October. The aim of the trip was to increase good relations between the students as there were originally none because of the instilled historical divide caused by religion. While we live in a modern era and young people usually ignore this divide, unfortunately, there are still prejudices within our community and projects like this aim to bring both sides of the community together to foster mutual understanding.

Upon arrival we were separated into groups. This allowed us to mix with each other and make friends. From this point we took part in a range of team building activities that were not only fun but taught us a lot about the importance of communication and teamwork.

Working together is harder than it looks!
Working together is harder than it looks!


Afterwards, we were treated to a delicious dinner provided by the centre, which was much appreciated by the group after those tiring activities!

Dinner Time!
Dinner Time!


Thanks to the teachers and staff who came with us from the schools we had a great night packed with quizzes, prizes and even a dance battle. If that wasn’t enough we ended the night with an activity organised by the shared centre staff. This bizarre activity included each student being blindfolded and walking through the forest in a line joined by hands on shoulders.

Quiz Time
Quiz Time


Over the next three days we took part in a range of activities, from water sports to rock-climbing. Personally Kayaking was my favourite, as I have never done it before.

For me, the trip was about new experiences, I got over my fear of heights and climbed to the top of the wall, I mountain biked when I haven’t been on a bike in years and it was my first time ever doing water sports and I enjoyed every second of it. My friends and I commented on how helpful and patient the staff were, they understood that some people may have been anxious and talked us through each activity and made us perfectly aware of the safety precautions. No one was forced into doing something they did not feel uncomfortable doing.

The site was great, there was plenty of space for us and for our activities. I have already commented on the food, but it was great, although I would have preferred more vegan options, what they supplied me with was delicious.

Here are quotes from three pupils who attended the residential:

“It was a worthwhile experience, I enjoyed learning about different cultures especially in our own town.”
Chloe Murney, St Louis Grammar School.

“It was good meeting new people from a different community and getting to know them”
Ben Berry, Kilkeel High School.

“I liked interacting and working with students my own age that I wouldn’t normally hang out with.”
Jodie Knox, St louis Grammar School

What to do next?
What to do next?