A School of Sanctuary Monitoring visit was conducted at Kilkenny City Vocational School (KCVS) on Thursday, 5th October 2023, and the members of the team unanimously recommended the school to be awarded the Champion School of Sanctuary status.
The team was led by Homayoon Shirzad, and included Ashlee Hally, Mark Kelly & Liz Murphy (Champion School of Sanctuary teachers), Bohdanna Harasimenko, Hashem Badran (Sanctuary Ambassadors), Alina Piskaryova (Kilkenny Leader Partnership’s Local Action Group) and Inga Heafey (KCVS Parent Representative).
KCVS’ outstanding work and contribution to students from near and far inspired the team to award it Champion School of Sanctuary status immediately.
All the teachers and students at the school welcomed the team with great care and empathy from the moment they arrived at the school. It was clear there was a real sense of belonging and community associated with the school and this could be instantly seen in how all students and teachers interact so pleasantly with one another.
The principal of KCVS, Cathy McSorley, passionately spoke about the school’s efforts to acknowledge and care for every child. Over 15 different nationalities are represented at KCVS, and their motto, “We are One, But We Are Many“, permeates everything they do on a daily basis for their students. Their efforts really do create a world that values and accepts cultural diversity. All team members remarked on how clearly this school embraces diversity and exemplifies care and welcome.
Students from the KCVS told the team about their struggles before entering the school and how they “now feel safe, appreciated and valued“. They also spoke of how teachers “support us in achieving our dreams” and how they are “proud to be part of KCVS and feel a sense of community” at the school.
The presentations by students and teachers were followed by a tour of the school, which included visits to the fantastic art room showcasing the talents of students, the sanctuary room where students can feel safe, peaceful, and calm, and the display of traditional foods and projects prepared by students from a variety of countries that the students prepared themselves. Following this, the team attended a ‘Diversi-Tea’ party, which was incredibly impressive and attended by the Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr. Joe Malone. A local newspaper reported on the special event and it was clear to the monitoring team that KCVS are committed to sharing the message of sanctuary and inviting other schools in the region to follow their fantastic example of compassion and empathy.
With great delight, Homayoon shared the good news by officially recognizing KCVS as a Champion School of Sanctuary with immediate effect. After a speech of praise from the Mayor, the school principal, Cathy McSorley, gave special thanks to teachers Linda McCormack and Aoife Doyle, and other members of the school, who worked hard to ensure that the school received the Champion award. In due course, the school will be moving into a new building and displaying their award. The school community is truly experiencing an exciting time!
Congratulations to KCVS, the first post-primary Champion School of Sanctuary in Co. Kilkenny and just the second Champion School in the county.
Click here to read more about the KCVS by clicking on their Schools of Sanctuary Portfolio
Click here to listen to KCVS talks on on their School’s Journey of welcome, support, empathy and impact KCLR News: KCVS School of Sanctuary (5th Oct 2023) by KCLR96FM (soundcloud.com)