Leaders of faith schools are sometimes challenged with the following question: “If your patron saint was to arrive today in 21st century society, would building a school like yours in your community be the first thing on his mind?” Finding an answer to such a challenge isn’t as hard as it sounds for St Vincent’s, Castleknock College. A Christian school in the Catholic tradition, we place faith, respect for fellow students and for teachers, care for the poor and vulnerable, and growth of self-worth through active participation as central to the school’s spirit and ethos.
Founded in 1835, the College takes pride in excellent academic results achieved by our hard-working students, directed by dedicated teachers and encouraged by supportive parents. The College was placed 1st in 2018 for north Dublin schools sending students to third-level and has been in the top three boys’ schools in the country since 2016. (source: Sunday Times League Tables, Sept 2018). The College mission is to educate the whole person and so, after the best exam results possible, we place sport in a central position, alongside music and the dramatic arts.
Daily life at Castleknock College is much more than exercises and lessons. As well as his books, a student could be carrying a sports bag, a musical instrument, an art folder, debating notes, a chess set or a tennis racquet, and all will carry a novel he is currently reading. Redevelopment of our facilities over recent years now presents the best possible environment for learning. Modern IT facilities and science laboratories complement our upgraded sports facilities which include a dedicated strength and conditioning gym, new astro surfaces and a brand-new purpose-built sports gymnasium with full sized basketball court and a climbing wall.
Classrooms are modern and well-equipped. Opportunities to get involved in clubs and societies exist through all six years at school. School tours and trips offer extra ways to strengthen friendships and expand horizons. We have a strong link with the Vincentian school in Ambo, Ethiopia, fund-raising for their pupils and sending students to help with their development projects.
Student voice and leadership opportunities are strong and vital. A student council system involves all students, mentoring programmes for junior students by older seniors help build a strong sense of community. SvP groups, an Ember Team in 5th Year and Prefects in 6th Year give voice to the call to serve. It is by such wonderful opportunities as these, under the guidance of truly dedicated staff, that our mission to live up to the virtues of St Vincent de Paul are brought to life.
I think St Vincent would be proud of a Castleknock College graduate. The more our young men put in during their own time here at “the ‘Knock”, the greater the sense of service emerges as they leave to join the generations of past-men who can proudly say they went to a Vincentian school.