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.
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.
“Whenever I listen to song or piece of music, I always prefer the music of that song. I want to feel the emotion in the sounds and instruments rather than have the emotions be told to me in the words of the singer”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Afterwards, we were treated to a delicious dinner provided by the centre, which was much appreciated by the group after those tiring activities!
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.
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
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.
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.
Have you ever wanted to by tickets to a gig, theatre or comedy show only to find the tickets have sold out almost instantly and you’ve been left without?
To add insult to injury those tickets appear on a secondary ticketing website such as Viagogo, Stubhub, GET ME IN! or Seatwave within minutes but at double the price.
In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of so-called bedroom touts, many of whom use software known as “bots” that automatically sweep up huge numbers of tickets the moment they go on sale. They then resell them via secondary market websites.
This is exactly what happened when U2 Tickets went on sale for their Joshua Tree anniversary tour. Tickets sold out in minutes leaving many fans devastated after missing their chance to get some. But to make things worse, there were up to 60 tickets available on secondary sites minutes after the concert had sold out, and not only that but the tickets were being sold at ridiculously high prices.
Prices for the UK dates started at £40 and rise to £187. The starting prices for the tickets being sold on Seatwave to see U2 at Croke Park were a massive £329! (excluding delivery price as well.)
A lot of people have spoken up about this injustice and asked the question, is this legal?
And unfortunately it is. The act of reselling tickets, even at a significantly higher price than the face value, is not illegal in the UK.
Ticket touts and unofficial ticket agencies are not authorised to sell tickets by the performers. Those purchasing tickets from ticket touts, either online or outside an event, run the risk of purchasing tickets that are counterfeit or stolen. There is no way of knowing whether tickets purchased on the secondary market are genuine, and when purchased from an unofficial source online, there is no way of knowing whether the tickets even exist.
Secondary ticketing might be legal but that doesn’t make it morally right.
One of the only countries in the world to have any laws restricting these ticket touts is Australia; they have banned people from selling on tickets for more than 10% above the original price.
This certainly seems fair but with so many ways to buy tickets online, how can it possibly be policed? I know how I feel about this issue but it seems that there are too many new routes being created to flout the issue and we live in a society that seems to reward “entrepreneurism” rather than find ways to stop blatant racketeerism.
I guess it’s back to camping out beside the local Ticketmaster agent rather than hope that in the interests of fair play and true fandom justice will prevail.
Happy New year everyone! (it’s a bit late but with all the new work the new year brings, here at the blogging team we’ve been back into the grind and only now have finally found the time for some much needed writing).
Today I’m responding to an article from one of my fellow bloggers on how New Year’s resolutions are rubbish.
I can’t be the only person who couldn’t disagree more, right?!
To me, New Year is celebrated purely to remind people that time is moving forward. One chapter of the book is closing and new one is ready and waiting to be filled in and read and wondered and explored. Unless you have a really rubbish book, the new chapter is exciting and different! Of course we have bad pages every so often, but the fact is, it’s your choice how you fill it up!
So fill it!
Make good memories, plan things, make goals, learn new skills, dream bigger and accomplish the things you never got to in the horrid old year of 2016!
If it’s a pain for you to drag open the new pages of your book, if you are bored reading the same thing day in, day out- then change it up! No one is going to judge you for deciding you want to take Italian lessons or starting swimming or going to see the newest movie every week, and if they do you can send them my way because why shouldn’t you? It’s not their life.
Accomplishing such changes can be difficult, I get it, but there’s no point in wasting time waiting for it to change either. Therefore, I think that new year’s resolutions are amazing ideas, why even celebrate the coming of a brand new year if you’re just going to keep it the exact same as the last?
With that being said, here are my top 6 new year’s resolutions for 2017-
1) Learn a new skill every month
Personally, I have reached a “pilot mode” in my life where I know how to do what I do, and I just keep doing the same thing to get it done. This is NOT ok. There are so many things I’m not doing right now that I know absolutely nothing about. Not only could they be fun, but they could be smart, savvy and genuinely useful.
What could I learn in the space of a month you ask? Well there’s plenty, even if they’re just tiny.
Learn how to bake a cake, learn how to wash your own clothes, learn how to finally do those algebra questions that keep bugging you in math, even learn how to play the ophicleide?? ANYTHING!
2) Keep a memory jar
I cannot recommend this one enough. Back in 2015 I kept a memory jar and opening it up on New Year’s was such a wonderfully nostalgic experience. When 2016 rolled around, I figured that since I had lots of stuff planned for the year I didn’t need a jar to remind me because I’d have such an incredible year.
Ha! For 1) I don’t think 2016 was a very good year for humanity as whole and 2) there are five hundred twenty-five thousand and six hundred minutes in a year and every single one of them is filled with something completely new- it is guaranteed your going to forget a lot of it.
The basic concept of a memory jar is that every time something makes you laugh till you cry, or someone does something incredibly lovely for you, or something substantial happens in your life, you write it down on a little piece of paper with the date and put it in a jar along with cinema tickets or bus tickets to important places or sweet wrappers that remind you of an adorable day or memory. Then, on New Year’s Eve, you open it up and reminisce before auld acquaintances are forgot and never brought to mind.
3) Keep a journal
I bought myself a journal on the 13th of January because I couldn’t find one that suited me until I came across my little blue leather treasure. This idea is rather like the memory jar, however journaling daily allows you to express yourself on a much larger scale to literally a blank sheet. You can complain about all the things that bug you (because as they say, if you don’t like people talking back to you, buy a journal), you can document ideas and concepts, you can describe daily events and leave yourself goals and lessons for the next day- I even write what music I’m listening to on that day. Personally, I can’t wait to be one of those people who comes back home and finding a big old dusty box of journals so I can see how much I’ve changed throughout the years.
4) Learn a new language
Languages are so important to me- and to everyone else on the planet. Without language learning, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. I study A Level French and adore my lessons. I think it’s so incredibly interesting to learn about where our English words come from when studying European languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and Italian that all get their origins from Latin, as well as the fact that learning new languages makes you more employable and is generally an amazing skill to have as you can connect with people from all around the world. Mainly for that reason, on top of my French, I am also taking lessons in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
It’s true that I’m not exactly fluent in any, but my reading of them is relatively proficient. If you’re considering language learning as a goal, I cannot promote the app Duolingo enough. It’s a free language learning app that offers lessons in so many different languages and you can even compete against your friends. It’s fantastic.
Also, why limit yourself to verbal language? Ever since I watched A Miracle on 34th Street as a child and saw the scene where Santa Claus signs to the little deaf girl, and her face totally illuminates with joy, I have always wanted to learn sign language. It must be so isolated for a deaf person to only have a limited circle of people to communicate with, so I am determined to learn how to talk to someone who doesn’t have the immense privilege of hearing.
5) Create something once a week
In 2016, I greatly struggled with the feeling of unproductiveness. NOT ANYMORE JILL, NOT ANYMORE! In 2017, I am striving to create something new every week, be it a poem, a song, a friendship, a new way of thinking, a new place to store pens.
I DON’T CARE.
The list goes on and on and on- just like time, time that is not gonna’ wait for me! This year, I’m going to have something to show for those previously discussed five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, be it my final grades or the paintings on my wall.
6) Make a new goal every month
Change, as already said, is difficult. A lot of people don’t like it at all. However, I am not like that, or more accurately, I don’t want- under any costs- to be like that. As I said, there is no point in wasting time when it’s going to keep moving forward without you either way, so you have two options- 1) enter into denial over the fact that you do nothing (AKA 2016 Jill), or 2) get up off your butt and try the things you’ve been wanting to try all this time (AKA 2017 pending Jill).
So much can happen in a year that I know every month I’ll discover new things that I want to accomplish, and I most definitely am going to. Instead of limiting to yourself to New Years resolutions, why not have New Months resolutions? I mean, new month, new me??… Right??? Well maybe it’s not as catchy as the original, but it still holds true.
I hope these points are good starters in making your own resolutions.
Remember, no matter how late in the game it is, there’s no time too late for a good ol’ change.