As one door closes, another opens, and a new era for education begins for students in Cork City.
Strawberry Hill National School will open at the beginning of September, with the amalgamation of Sunday’s Well Boys National School (BNS) and Sunday’s Well Girls to form one co-ed school.
“We’re looking forward to September with enthusiasm and in anticipation of what we can do to make it an even better learning organisation for the community,” said Martina Barry, principal.
“We’re all full of hope, change is always good."
The school was first opened where the old community centre in Strawberry Hill was based.
“The boys were downstairs and the girls were upstairs. The city jail was being built and there was lots of stone left over.
"They offered the stone for free to anyone who would take it, and so they built the school from that stone. At one time it was known as the ‘jail school’ because of that.”
When it comes to amalgamation in September, we are all staying where we are,” Ms Barry said.
“What we are probably going to do next year is have a junior end and a senior end.”
Some classes when they return in September will be mixed, but a decision on what year groups this will apply to has yet to be made.
“Some schools decide to mix the whole way up and others decide to start at junior infants and let it work its way up, but that would take eight years.
"We were hoping to mix as quickly as we could. The decision hasn’t been totally finalised yet but we will be mixed in the majority of classes.
Students have had a mixed reaction to the move, but mainly are excited. “We’ve all been building for this for some time. We’re all excited, and looking forward to it. It’s a new era.”
The amalgamation process was quite lengthy, agreed upon three years ago, and negotiated and planned through a steering committee set up by the school’s shared dioceses. Enrollment is expected to increase.
"Being co-ed appeals to families and there are new developments as well in the local area," Ms Barry said.
"Sunday's Well BNS has also had a good reputation in terms of the experiences offered to the boys, whether it be music or sport. We will be bringing that with us when we amalgamate with the girls' school.
"All the positives from both sides will be brought into the new school."