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An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. Visits St Mary's Secondary School, Ballina

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. recently visited St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina, Co. Mayo to officially present the Sean Lemass Award for Enterprise 2011.

Pictured above An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is welcomed to St Mary’s by from left : Deputy Michelle Mulherin TD, Fatima O’Flaherty Deputy Principal, Cllr Willie Nolan, Deputy Mayor Ballina, Patsy Sweeney School Principal, Cllr Barry Mc Loughlin, Member of School BOM

The government leader said he was “delighted” to officiate at a presentation ceremony on Monday last during which he presented students with the national award and certificates marking their success.

“I am privileged to be here today to present the Sean Lemass award to these wonderful young people at St. Mary’s and I hope this is the start of their future in enterprise, trade and innovation. I hope they grow up to play their part in business internationally and nationally, as well as locally,” he said.

Ballina's St Mary's Secondary School scooped one of the country's major national awards for Enterprise in winning the prestigious An Taoiseach's "Sean Lemass 2011 National Enterprise Award". Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD., presented the award to the 2011 Transition Year class. Pictured above at the award ceremony were seated left to right,: Louise Ward County and City Enterprise Boards, Anne Kelleher CEO of CEIST, Michael O'Leary Transition Year National Co-ordinator, School Principal, Ms. Patsy Sweeney, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, Enterprise Teacher Niamh Daly, Deputy Principal Fatima O'Flaherty, Chairperson of BOM, Sr Mary Corr.

Standing left right: Students Nicola Horan, Laura O'Rourke, Ellen Keane, Shauna Reape, Lorraine Gilmartin, Alison Corr, Rebecca Mulhaire, Leona Bourke, Claire Dolan, Amy Lowther, Deirdre Chambers, Bronagh Foley, Megan Nolan, Keri Knox and Caroline McHale, LCVP National Co-ordinator. Absent from picture were Ashling Heffernan, Rebecca McDonnell and Rachel Keavney.

Presenting the award, the Taoiseach also encouraged students to aim high in life, as well as in terms of enterprise and trade. “In the words of Barack Obama, dream big dreams. The students here have shown that they have the potential to be anything they want to be. This inspirational project is a prime example of that.”

The school’s Transition Year Enterprise students, led by teacher, Ms. Niamh Daly, scooped the national award for an innovative healthy eating programme, “Reflect, Eat Yourself Healthy” as part of the T.Y. Mini-Company Get Up and Go competitions.

An Taoiseach is pictured above being presented with a specially commissioned work of Art by the Artist -Art Teacher and Past Pupil Jennifer Heavey accompanied by Principal Patsy Sweeney

The pioneering project promotes healthy lifestyle and diet among young people, attracting the attention of national judges.

Principal Patsy Sweeney said: “I am delighted to welcome Taoiseach Enda Kenny to St. Mary's. This is due recognition for our Transition Year students, especially our Enterprise classes, who turned ideas into research, research into action, and subsequently that action into achievement.

The result in this case is the development of an innovative healthy eating programme which has proven to be a viable business model.

Pictured above An Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents the Seán Lemass Enterprise Award for the best Enterprise School at the ‘Get up and Go’ Mini-Company Trade Fair in 2011. Accepting the award on behalf of the school is Enterprise Teacher Niamh Daly and Principal Patsy Sweeney.

This experience has shown how the students’ skills of teamwork, management, leadership, communicating, planning, accounting, marketing and knowledge have interlinked to create a unique business venture. In essence, this project showcases real business acumen and demonstrates what enterprise is all about.

St. Mary's has a long tradition of enterprise successes and it is fantastic to have this project officially recognised by our very own Mayo Taoiseach,” added the Principal.

Teacher Ms Niamh Daly added: “I am so proud of the students, they are a hard-working group and their commitment and dedication to this project has paid off. Each member of the class exhibited individual strengths and as a group they combined these to create a truly successful business idea which has now been recognised on the national stage.”

Student representative, Deirdre Chambers outlined the significance of teamwork invested in the project saying: “This project shows the value of teamwork. We all had a role to play; everyone was a vital piece.”

“On behalf of the students, I want to thank the local businesses, fellow students in other Transition Year classes, TY programme coordinators, the school Principal and Vice Principal and of course, special thanks to our teacher Niamh Daly,” she added.

Also present at the event was Deputy Mayor, Cllr Willie Nolan; Deputies Michelle Mulherin and Dara Calleary; LCVP National Coordinator LCVP; National TY Coordinator, Michael O’Leary and Chairperson of the Board of Management, Sr Mary Corr, as well as a host of dignitaries, councillors and special guests.

The Mini-Company Get up and Go competition requires students to generate a business idea, research it, produce the product or service, market it, prepare costings and accounts and a business report. They must also prepare an exhibition stand and undertake an interview about their work.

The award winners have taken part in county/regional contests and national events, and have faced tough competition to reach the final stage.

The introduction of the Sean Lemass Award reflects a commitment in the Government strategy Building Ireland's Smart Economy: A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal to raise the profile of these competitions and encourage more second level students to participate in enterprise programmes.

It also commemorates the role of Sean Lemass in promoting Ireland's industry and developing its infrastructure.

He was instrumental in founding Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus and Irish Shipping and did much to establish Ireland as an open enterprising and modern economy.

St Mary's Secondary School, Ballina

St. Mary’s Secondary School is the largest all-girls school in Mayo with 600 plus students.

It was one of the few schools in the country selected to participate in the Transition Year Option introduced in 1986 and since then has enjoys one of the largest T.Y. enrolments in the country with over 90 per cent uptake of the optional programme annually. T.Y. students have earned international, national and regional achievements in terms of enterprise, sports, social innovation, drama, music and the arts.

School Principal, Mrs Patsy Sweeney, vacated the position of National Coordinator of Transition Year to return to St. Mary’s in 2004.

The Transition Year programme in St. Mary’s is carried out under the inspirational leadership of Programme Coordinator, Christine Togher and T.Y. Coordinator, Joanne Cullen.