School Opening 1963
History in Brief:
The school first enrolled its first students in 1961 and has grown in strength, reputation and standards of excellence to the position it holds in the local community today.
In 1988 a Board of Management was formed with parents, teachers and Christian Brother trustees as members of the Board. The overall development of the school is guided by the Board of Management and the day to day running of the school is carried out by a lay principal with the teaching staff.
The school promotes the spiritual, moral, mental, physical, cultural, aesthetic and social development of students and thus prepares each individual for life.
Arklow CBS – 50 Years of History in Detail!
On the Feast of Our Lady’s Nativity, September 8th, 1961, Ard Scoil Chaoimhin, Arklow, opened its doors for the first time to admit the seventy pupils, thirty 1st years, thirty 2nd years and ten 3rd years, who presented themselves in search of secondary education. They were received on the morning by the newly appointed and first Superior, Brother W.M. Loughnane who was ably assisted by his then two member staff, Brother B. Mullane and Mr. Liam Mc Carthy. The newly arrived were immediately assigned their classes and were soon busy at school-work. Thus began an undertaking, the preparation and planning for which had extended over well-nigh a quarter of a century.
During the year 1937, in response to an invitation from the clergy and people of Arklow, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers in Ireland visited the town with a view to discussing the feasibility of opening there a Secondary School for boys under the Management of the Christian Brothers. Though the brothers seemed to have been satisfied with the proposed siting for the school and the other attendant circumstances which then prevailed in the area, movement on the project did not materialise for whatever reason and so the local community in Arklow were compelled to resort to an alternative arrangement.
Seeing no immediate hope of a Brothers’ establishment, a local committee invited Mr. Liam McCarthy M.A., who at the time was a teacher at De La Salle Brothers’ Secondary School in Wicklow, to open a day Secondary school in Arklow. The invitation was accepted and in 1942 Mr. McCarthy began his work in St. Patrick’s Academy. Labouring under most adverse conditions, very creditable results were secured at the Academy but such conditions were not conducive to advanced Secondary education and again the local committee reorganised for the purpose of approaching again the Christian Brothers. After negotiations involving Brother Dowling, the C.B.S. Provincial, Very Rev. John Pigott, Parish Priest of Arklow, Most Rev. J.C. McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and other concerned parties, agreement was reached and plans were laid for the erection of a School and Monastery on a five acre site donated by Rev. Fr. Pigott.
Work on the site commenced on October 27th, 1960 and despite inclement weather, proceeded at a steady pace. By the scheduled opening date, September 8th, 1961 the upper storey of the building was ready for occupation and it was there that the first pupils of Ard Scoil Chaoimhin sat down to class on that first memorable morning. The monastery adjoining the School was occupied for the first time on September 20th 1961.
The school is dedicated to the memory of St. Kevin, not very far from whose rocky retreat the building now stands.
1964 saw the first students of Ard Scoil Chaoimhin sit for their Leaving Certificate examination. The class of ’64 was comprised of George McCarthy, Patrick Dunne, Robert Hickson, Thomas Keogh, Thomas Cooper, Patrick O’ Neill, Donal Keenan, Peter Murphy, Pat McCarthy and John Darmody. In September of the same year, 160 students were on rolls and this figure increased steadily each year thereafter until a maximum was reached in 1974 when there were 272 pupils on rolls. As early as 1965 the accommodation provided in the original building was found to be grossly inadequate, such was demand for places at the school. In the mid 70’s one third of the students were being accommodated in prefabricated buildings which were acquired as a temporary measure until further extensions could be undertaken. In 1969 Planning permission was subsequently refused because estimated costs were thought too high and in excess of the Departments’ maximum rate. In October 1975 the long awaited permission was granted to the School Management and remote preparations for school extension plans were undertaken by Mr. G. Moloney in 1977. In November 1984 tenders for this new undertaking were sought and on October 9th 1985, the successful company, Messrs. Joplin Development Ltd., began marking out the site for the new additions. The then Minister for Education, Mrs. Gemma Hussey officially laid the foundation stone for the new building on November 4th. Work on the site was carried out with great intensity from day one and the new classrooms were ready for occupation for the beginning of the school year 1986/87. A seventeen year dream had finally materialised and the pupils henceforth would benefit enormously from their new surroundings and unrivalled facilities.
The extension comprised four classrooms, rooms for woodwork, Arts & Crafts, two Science Laboratories, library, Staffroom, offices, gymnasium and Canteen. In addition there are outdoor facilities for basketball, volleyball and tennis.
1988, was the year that saw the first Board of Management established, this allowed for teacher and parent representation as well as the four nominated representatives of the Trustees of the Christian Brothers. By the end of the year the decision was made to have the position of Principal advertised in the national press due to the retiring of Brother Atkinson from the position.
Charles J. Kavanagh was appointed as the first lay Principal of the school. A native of Co. Wexford, he had taught for several years with the City of Dublin V.E.C. He was ably assisted by Mathun Hickey in the position of Deputy Principal. In 1998 Ollie Wheston took over as Deputy and upon his retirement in 2003, PJ Sheehy stepped into the role. Under Mr. Kavanagh’s Principalship the name of the school was changed to Ard Scoil Chaoimhin, but it was, and indeed still is, popularly referred to as ‘The Brothers’. Under Mr. Kavanagh’s stewardship in the nineties the school numbers increased year on year. This was also the period when Transition Year was introduced very successfully to the school.
Upon Mr. Kavanagh’s retirement in 2007, Peter Somers, a past pupil of Ard Scoil Chaoimhin was appointed Principal. During Mr. Somer’s short time at the school he has made a huge impact, bringing the school into the 21st century with the updating of the school computer room and the replacement of all the old machines with state of the art flat screen PCs and high speed broadband access throughout the school. He has also installed data projectors and PCs in all the school classrooms.
The school has introduced a tutor system for First Years in order to help ease their transition from primary to post primary and to ensure that adequate support structures are in place for these students. This staff led system was complemented by the simultaneous introduction of a Student Liaison Scheme for assisting with activities for the First Years during break times.
In order to ensure that Arklow CBS can offer a fully inclusive education to all students in the catchment area an autism unit has also been opened within the school to offer specialist help and supports to children with autistic spectrum disorders. Over the last number of years there have been a number of refurbishments to various areas of the school. Amongst these are the Design and Communication Graphics room, the Woodwork room, and most recently the Art Room which has benefited from a new extension as well as being superbly equipped.
September 2011 brought a new student locker room as well as a new school canteen to provide realistically priced healthy nutritious food, all prepared on site by a qualified chef.
The running of a successful school however is not just about providing modern facilities it is about ensuring that the school and its staff serve the students to the best of their ability and thereby guarantee that students have a positive school experience that will last them in good stead in the varied careers and occupations they pursue. With this in mind and in order to uphold Arklow CBS’s long tradition of being a central part of the community of Arklow Town, the school has forged links with many different companies and organisations within the town resulting in sponsorships and scholarships.
There is no doubt that the past fifty years in Arklow CBS have seen the school undergo many positive changes, and, looking to the future, with enrolments steadily increasing, Arklow CBS is sure to remain an important fixture on the educational landscape of Arklow Town.