Excitement as nature area opens at school

Excitement as nature area opens at school

22 June 2022

A NEW pond and nature area at St Colmcille’s Primary School in Downpatrick was officially opened recently.

The opening was by Father John Murray, PP, Mrs Noreen Meehan, chair of the board of governors, and Mr Stephen Austin, school principal.

Also taking part were pupil representatives from Foundation Stage, Key Stages 1 and 2 and the school’s Learning Support centres.

Mr Austin describe the opening as an “important and exciting milestone” in the third phase of the school’s outdoor developments programme and represented an investment of £50,000.

Of this amount £9,470 was donated by the Department of Infrastructure Living Spaces and Places Fund with rest coming from school funds and the PTFA, which contributed approximately £15,000 through numerous fundraising activities.

Mr Austin said: “This area of our school is now home to many native tree species, wildlife pond, complete with aquatic plants, fish, filtration and aeration systems, a water feature and sensory pergola shelter.

“There is an observation bridge with binoculars and a periscope, for pupils to observe the wildlife that will inhabit the area. Each year group in the school has a dedicated planter box to explore growth and change throughout the different seasons.

“Also, around the pond and nature area, there is a nature learning zone with educational displays, providing information about the seasons, as well as different plants, animals and native tree species. Also included is a Nature discovery zone, with a wormery and magnifying glasses and a shed for gardening equipment.”

Mr Austin paid tribute to the school’s head of outdoor education, Mr Sean McReynolds, Mr Lawrence Blaney and Mr Anthony Fitzsimons for their time and skills in bringing the project to fruition.

He also thanked numerous school staff members for their ongoing efforts in upkeeping this area for the pupils to enjoy, including Mr Brian Tweedie, Mr Bill Carew, Miss Lee Magee, Mrs Rosaleen Cunliffe, Miss Denise Sinclair, Mrs Katrina Smith, Mr Jack Hanna and Mr Ryan Craig.