A small, rural two-teacher Church of Ireland National School in Ballineen in West Cork with twenty-nine pupils decided to find a creative and artistic way to overcome one big obstacle caused by Covid-19 restrictions: not allowing the pandemic to break down the sense of community in the school. The school’s two classrooms have been completely separated this year due to those restrictions. The two classes have had separate entrances and separate break times.
That did not stop Ballymoney National School which is in the Kinneigh Union of Parishes. How were they going to help the pupils to feel connected to each other?
Throughout the year the school worked on a massive mural (24 feet x 8 feet) made out of 12,400 plastic bottle tops.
In September, a sign was put up appealing to members of the local community to collect plastic bottle tops for the school. The response was incredible! For months people delivered bags of bottle tops to the school.
The school’s very talented resource teacher, Esther Quin, drew the mural on six sheets of plywood in December and the senior classroom painted it. The parish hall adjacent to the school had no events happening in it due to the restrictions and the school was very fortunate to be able to use it as an art studio to create our mural in.
When the junior classroom returned to school in March, they began sticking the plastic bottle tops in place. Everyday they sent an updated photograph of their progress to show the senior classroom who were still learning remotely on zoom. Constructing the mural gave the pupils a chance to sit and chat to each other as they stuck the bottle tops in place which was exactly what they needed after the long school closure.
School Principal, Ms Shireen Rountree said:
Our wonderful parents helped permanently secure the glued bottle tops in place with screws. This week the mural was finally erected on the back of the school shelter on the Rossmore Road. It is bright, beautiful and absolutely massive! It is 24foot long and 8 foot high. Altogether it took 12,400 bottle tops to make the mural! It depicts our view of Ballineen Bridge with Enniskeane village on one side and Ballineen village on the other side. It shows some of the wildlife that we are lucky enough to see from our playground – herons and swans. We hope it brings a smile to the faces of passersby to see what we have created from their rubbish. The parents and staff are extremely proud of the children’s wonderful achievement.