Hard work pays off

By Mary Dennehy

MORE than 20 past students of three Tallaght schools were awarded for their hard work and commitment with a bursary presentation to support them in their first year of college.

Established 20 years ago, the ACE (Access College Education) programme is for students attending Killinarden Community School, Mount Seskin in Jobstown and St Aidan’s Community School in Brookview.

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Killinarden Community School students 

The programme was started to encourage young people to think about third-level education while in secondary school, and to see college as an attainable goal.

The ACE programme also inspires young people to work towards college, with 22 past students, who are now in their first year of college, last Friday awarded for their commitment and dedication to the programme. 

Eamonn Nolan, who was a teacher at Killinarden Community School for 38 years, has been involved in the programme since the early days.

Now retired, Eamonn is still involved with the ACE programme and was present at the bursary award ceremony in St Aidan’s last Friday, January 24.

“The programme was started because there were great kids [across the three schools] who wanted to go to college, kids who were able and interested,” Eamonn said.

“However, they were not getting into college because they didn’t have enough points, they’d be short five or ten points.

“We knew they were well capable of going to college, so we thought of a way to try and help them with additional supports.

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Mount Seskin CC Mr J Halpin, Emmet Bowers, Eoin Gavin, Jacob Redmond and Mr A Fennessy (Principal)

“Not all kids have access to grinds and other additional supports, and we wanted to level the playing field.”

Any young person who wishes to apply for the bursary, to assist in their first year of college, applies for it themselves.

Alongside an interview, the students must show commitment to their secondary school studies and engage in additional supports and activities provided by their school. 

According to Eamonn, not only does this help the students on their road to third level but inspires those in the years below.

He added how the programme has helped break down barriers to third-level education over the years.

“Younger kids are seeing people who have gone to college from their school”, he said.

“Over the years there has been an acceptance by students that they can go to college and have success.

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Bursary Award Recipients at the presentation in St Aidan’s CS

“The students in the ACE programme are great role models for the next group coming up.”

Eamonn acknowledged the support of TU Dublin Tallaght campus, UCD, local teachers and students, with parents being key in the success of the programme.

Last Friday, 22 first-year students were awarded a €250 bursary each, which they can use towards books, college supplies etc.

Eamonn stressed that the bursary can also be used for simple things like going for a coffee with new classmates, which can help support a young student to settle into college.

“The idea with the ACE programme is to get more kids into college and keep them in,” Eamonn said.

“Last Friday was a very positive celebration of the success of these young people.”

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