VIDEO: Our Lady of Lourdes School

Our Lady of Lourdes School in Ballymoney have released a video called ‘More Than a School’.

The school wanted to create a film which brought to life the essence of the school, featuring parents, pupils and staff showcasing what Our Lady of Lourdes is about, and what they stand for.

The video also features principal Eilish Gillan who is the first ever female head of the school.

She has been leading the school for ten years, having previously been a member of staff as a History and PE Teacher for a number of years.

Principal Eilish Gillan

Speaking about the video ‘More Than A School’, Miss Gillan said of the school: “It’s all about teams. Relationships are the key in OLOL: staff to pupils, pupils to pupils, the kids fundamentally know all of us are there for them and that we go the extra mile and never give up - even when pupils leave they know they can come back for advice or if they are hurting and just need a hug.

“We understand deeply that unless our children are happy they will not learn and everyday we are constantly trying to remove those barriers to learning for the kids. We do not just hear them we listen to them. I honestly believe we are a family - interdependence - interconnectivity - staff and pupils being open and honest with each other sharing experiences. We understand that whatever kid walks through our door we will match the need to help them be comfortable with who they are and where they are. We try to instill in them that no child is better than another, we are the school for all children.”

Miss Gillan also spoke of one of her favourite memories of her time in Our Lady of Lourdes: “There are so many - mainly the laughs that I’ve had with the kids and, believe it or not, the tears with them also. After a bereavement recently I was upset and a group of Year 10s came to my office just to be there with me to say are you alright, boys and girls and left a gift and another group of fifth year boys stopped me in my car, made me wind down the window to see if I was OK and one reached in the window and took my hand. They waited with me until I had regained my composure.”

She also recalled the happy times: “Laughs with the whole school, wearing silly hats and trying to get a selfie with them throwing their hats in the air.” Another favourite memory was also “watching my older pupils taking my most vulnerable pupils by the hand and taking them down the corridor.”

Principal Eilish Gillan

The school recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Miss Gillan said: “We have had years of families going through OLOL and generations of people connected to each other. It reminded me that people have left their legacies for us and what was learned by their side, we carry on all the time trying to better ourselves. It reminded me of the crucial role OLOL actually plays in our community.”

The principal also spoke about the challenges of keeping in contact with the school community during a pandemic: “We are in school every day to help parents and pupils alike with anything: work, worries, just for a chat and a cup of tea. My staff ring pupils and parents every day. We have a wellbeing hub, three outstanding counsellors on site who meet pupils face to face, online or on the telephone.”