On the 5th of May, 2015 the community of St. Peter's National School gathered together to celebrate 10 years since the school opened. Joan Bruton, an instrumental founding member of St. Peter's, made a speech which so wonderfully tells the story of how St. Peter's came to be. The story is enjoyed by all and to this day the positive determination which resulted in the opening of the school continues to resonate in the school's ethos today.
Have a read of Joan's speech below to get a real insight into the History of our school, St. Peter's N.S!
Hello, everyone. Tonight is a very special time for all of us, especially the children of St. Peter’s! When I think about the events leading up to the start of St. Peter’s, I think of the Harry Potter stories. I think of the Hogwart Express and Hogwarts School. Why do you think that is the case? Well, the idea of starting St. Peter’s came about as a result of a train journey in 2002. Let me tell you first about the background to this. Around 2002, we had experienced a substantial increase in young families in the parish. This was particularly noticeable at our special family services and at our annual children’s summer camp. I discussed this with other parishioners and we all agreed that it was a pity that we had not got a parish school. This is where the train journey comes in! On a train trip to Belfast to a church meeting, I met Canon John McCullagh who was in charge of Education for the Church of Ireland. We discussed the possibility of starting a Church of Ireland primary school in Dunboyne. John said that this was our time. There would never be a better time. As this would be the first totally new Church of Ireland School since the foundation of the state, John was the man to advise us. Soon after, I raised the matter at the Select Vestry meeting and received a very enthusiastic response. Cherry Prendergast, Trevor Holmes and I were asked by the Select Vestry to look into the matter. We did a survey and discovered that there was indeed an urgent need for a school, as children from the parish were attending at least 17 different schools. Some of these schools would be full in the near future and would not be able to take our children any longer. This was indeed a matter of great urgency! Time was limited and we had to move quickly! We were very lucky that we had advice and support from many people, including the then Bishop of Meath & Kildare, Dr Richard Clarke, who agreed to be our patron. We applied to the Department of Education to sanction our new school. In February 2004, we held our first Open Meeting. We had not done this before as we did not want to appear to be taking children away from existing schools. The Bishop had stated that we would be a parish school but we would welcome children of other faiths. At the meeting, there was a great interest from people living in Dunboyne and nearby. The other primary schools in the area supported us, too. In April 2004, we got our sanction from the Department. We had just over 4 months to get the school up and running. Joy was recruited as our head in June 2004. Alan Kane joined us to bring much needed financial expertise. With Joy’s knowledge and experience, Cherry, Trevor, Alan and I knew that setting up the school would be easier from then on. We knew we would have to set up in temporary accommodation. To start, the parish lent us the Parish Hall. Over the summer, Joy, Gwen (who was recruited in July) and their families, Declan (Murray), Barbara and David Anderson and others worked, on a voluntary basis, to make the Hall presentable. Jonathan Goodwin kindly provided materials. Eddie Colton and Des Bruton provided labour and materials to provide central heating. The result was that we were able to open the school on 1st September 2004 with 16 junior infants and pupils up to 1st class. We had 23 pupils in total on 30 September which is the day on which the DOES counts the pupils. I am delighted to see some of our original pupils here tonight. You made history! Of course, in setting up the school, we encountered problems and setbacks but, thanks to the support we received from so many people in the Church of Ireland, friends in the wider community, and many politicians, both local and national, we managed to overcome them. St Peter’s is a symbol of how the Church of Ireland sees itself as a part of the community. We could not exist without the wonderful support of our neighbours. This is the night to thank you and the parents and pupils, past and present. We started the school in our small parish hall. In many ways, it was like the schools which some of the parents had attended in their day. We all look forward to the day, in the near future, when the pupils of St. Peter’s will be in a purpose built school where they can, in the words of the school motto, go forward “ag foghlaim le ceile”. Joan Bruton 5.05.15