Over eight hundred teachers, parents and pupils converged on The Heritage Hotel, Portlaosie on Wednesday 5th May and over four hundred and fifty converged on Racket Hall Hotel, Roscrea on Tuesday 27th May to celebrate the publication of over 1,350 books by 1432 pupils from thirty three schools in the Midlands (Laois, Offaly, Carlow and North Tipperary) in the Write-a-Book project. This project is co-ordinated by Laois Education Centre in partnership with Laois Enterprise Board.
The Write-a-Book project which is in its twelfth year, links the curricular areas of Visual Arts and English, while also prompting integration with practically every other curricular area for teacher and pupil. It is a very valuable tool for teachers to develop pupil writing and in particular creative writing skills while at the same time it gives pupils the opportunity to explore different genres, language and structure and enables them develop techniques and skills and ultimately see their writing valued.
Guest of Honour on the night, Jim O'Brien, journalist, author, radio presenter and scriptwriter for RTE complimented Laois Education Centre on the very efficient organisation of the project. He said the books were a great compliment to all the teachers, pupils and parents involved. He also said that it was not just the number of books published that was significant; it was the quality of the work of all involved. Jim entertained all present with his reading of a selection of Spike Milligan poems and own rendering of his song 'Nappy Love' much to the amusement of both young and old present. Jim also emphasised how writing was such a creative process and recalled how he had been supported by teachers when he was in school.
Jim Enright, Director of Laois Education Centre said the Write-a-Book project is one of the most exciting, interesting and finest projects for pupils organised by Laois Education Centre. Jim went on to say that 'we are honoured this evening to be in the presence of so many fine young writers' and commented on the quality of the books which represented a very diverse range of topics from poetry, travel, sport, novels and many other topics, all of which were beautifully and artistically illustrated. This year we received entries from one Gaelscoil and were delighted to have entries for the very first time from an Educate Together school. Jim thanked his colleagues in the Education Centre particularly Yvonne Nolan and Margaret Mary Grant who had done enormous work in coordinating and organizing the vast quantity of entries. He thanked the teachers who supported their pupils, read other class books and helped with recommending merit awards. He also thanked the pupils and their family members and had a special word of thanks for the local project co-ordinators Rosemary Day and Bridie Dunne for their support of the project over the many years, Anne Buggie, Mary McCarthy and Dinah Kingsley for their help at the awards evening and finally thanked Jim O'Brien for his contribution to the evening.
125 Merit awards and 310 highly commended awards were presented over the two evenings by Jim O'Brien and each of the 1432 participating pupils received a certificate of participation.