The Helix Theatre


Finally the big day arrived, the children from Sixth Class in Sacred Heart School, Portlaoise together with their teachers, Mrs Griffin, Mrs Whelan and Ms Fogarty boarded a bus at nine o’clock and headed off to the Helix Theatre in Dublin for the FÍS film awards. There was great excitement in the air. 


On arrival at the Helix the girls were met by the lots of cameras clicking and flashing. First up were Ellen O’Sullivan, Danielle Byrne, Orla Masterson and Rachel Costello who were interviewed by officials from the FÍS office about their film. They explained to the interviewer how they had designed the set, made model penguins, animated them and merged almost three thousand frames into a animated film entitled “The Last Penguin” which tells the story of the effect of global warming on penguins.


The class was then met by steward for the occasion Mr Jim Enright, ICT Advisor Laoiis Education Centre, who escorted them into the theatre where they were welcomed by lots of friendly faces from FÍS and NCTE headquarters. Excitedly and nervously they followed Jim up the winding stair way for the official photograph.


Lights, cameras and action were the theme of the day. The organisers went to great trouble decorating the Helix with balloons. They gave everybody a warm welcome and even had coffee for the teachers!


Later it was time to line up to enter the auditorium. The atmosphere was electric as the girls entered to the tune of “We Will Rock You”. Soon they were clapping and cheering and participating in a Mexican wave as shouts of delight and excitement echoed around the theatre.


While waiting for formal proceeding to begin excerpts of films from all twenty five finalists were shown on a big screen. The Master of Ceremonies for the Awards was Mr Aonghus McNally of television fame who was welcomed on stage at one o’clock to rapturous applause from the audience.


A special message of congratulations from the Minister for Education and Science, Ms Mary Hanafin was televised in the theatre. The Minister is currently in New Zealand.


Aonghus McNally began by telling the audience that over one hundred primary schools from throughout the country had participated in the 2007 FÍS film festival and had created one hundred and fifty films. He explained that the twenty-five finalists in the Helix would each receive an outstanding achievement award for a specific category of film-making. Three films were nominated for each category. The audience applauded and cheered as the nominees for each category were called out. When the award winner was announced for each category two students went on stage to be presented with their award by Mr Jerome Morrissey (Director NCTE) and Ms Anne White (National Coordinator for Interactive Software in the Curriculum NCTE).


“The Last Penguin” was nominated in four categories; Outstanding achievement in  music, Outstanding achievement in original story telling, Outstanding achievement in Animation and Outstanding achievement in nature. The children from Sacred Heart School were thrilled to have their film chosen for the award for “Outstanding Achievement in Film Making  in Animation.  Orla Masterson and Danielle Byrne accepted the award on behalf of the school. The Aileen McKeogh award was presented to St Joseph’s National School in Dundalk. To the amazement and delight of the audience Ms Evanna Lynch, made a guest appearance at the end of the ceremony. Ms Lynch congratulated all the children for their outstanding work and commitment to film-making.


Elated and proud the children form Sacred Heart School departed the Helix theatre with their well deserved award which is now on display in school.