My Dream Secondary School Competition Results


A big thank you to all the pupils from the Educate Together primary schools in Galway city and county, who participated in the My Dream Secondary School Art and Essay-writing Competition and, of course, not forgetting the parents and guardians who supported the children in their wonderful artistic work.

Míle buíochas to the teachers who creatively incorporated the competition into their curricula; no doubt your enthusiasm and commitment helped fuel the same in the children.

We at the Galway Educate Together 2nd Level Start-up group would also like to extend our gratitude to our prize sponsors:  Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Cregal Art and Powell’s Art and Music Shop.

We are also very grateful to our fantastic judges,Bernie Crawford, John Hearne and Frank Sanford, who did very detailed and professional assessments for us, all on a voluntary basis.

Award Winning Art Under 9 Yrs

Award Winning Art Over 9 Yrs

Award Winning Essays Under 9 Yrs

1st Prize 2nd Prize Joint 2nd Prize Joint 3rd Prize

Award Winning Essays Over 9 Yrs

1st Prize Joint 1st Prize Joint 2nd Prize 3rd Prize Joint 3rd Prize Joint 3rd Prize Joint

Click through to see the rest of our wonderful entries and the comments from our Judges…

All Other Art Under 9 Yrs (in no particular order)

All Other Art Over 9 Yrs (in no particular order)

All Other Essays Under 9 Yrs (in no particular order)

essay 05 essay 06 essay 07 essay 08 essay 09 essay 10 essay 11 essay 12 essay 13 essay 14 essay 15 essay 16 essay 17 essay 18 essay 19 essay 20 essay 21 essay 22

All Other Essays Over 9 Yrs  (in no particular order)

essay 07 essay 08 essay 09 essay 10 essay 11 essay 12 essay 13 essay 14 essay 15 essay 16 essay 17 essay 18 essay 19 essay 20 essay 21 essay 22 essay_23 essay 24 essay 25 essay 26 essaay 27 essay 28


The judges were as follows:

Essays Over 9 category:  Bernie Crawford

Bernie Crawford lives near Oranmore, Co Galway.  Bernie is on the editorial team of the popular poetry magazine Skylight 47.  She won first prize in The Dead Good Poetry Competition in 2013. She has been long-listed for Over the Edge Poetry Competition in 2011 and 2013. She was also long-listed in 2013 for Doire Press Annual International Poetry Chapbook Competition. In 2012 she was long-listed for the Powers Irish Whiskey Short Story Competition and was also a finalist in the Baffle poetry festival in Loughrea. In 2014 two of her poems were short listed for The Fish Poetry Competition.

She has been invited to read at a number of venues including Clifton Arts Festival, Over the Edge Readings in Galway City Library, The Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering in Gort, and Over the Edge Writers Gathering at The Kitchen @ The Museum. Her poems have appeared in a number of publications including the poetry anthology Behind the Mask (2010) and in Irish Left Review, Skylight 47, Galway Review, Lonestars and Galway Advertiser.

Essays Under 9 category:  John Hearne

John Hearne is a freelance writer, editor and journalist, who has worked with a range of Irish publishers and newspapers including Penguin Ireland, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times and the Irish Independent

Art Under 9 and Over 9 categories  Frank Sanford

Frank Sanford has been a working artist for over 30 years, showing in many galleries and shows across the United States.  Following architectural training Frank studied painting in U.S. colleges, including the Art Student League in New York. He has his studio (Gallery West Studio) in Kinvara, County Galway and is a full-time resident of Ireland.  He has judged numerous children’s art competitions.  He currently has an exhibition showing in the Russell Gallery in New Quay, the Burren.


Here are the judges’ results and how they decided:

Judge’s comments on the Essays Over 9 yrs. category: Bernie Crawford

  • Congratulations to all twenty eight of you for submitting an entry to the competition. That is a huge achievement — to sit down and take time to put your ideas and thoughts on paper — I admire you for doing it.
  • If you are not among the top six that I have short-listed don’t be disappointed.  The standard was high and I had a difficult job to choose the short list. I was taken to the tropical forests in Brazil, I was taken deep down into the ocean with all the mer people, and I was in New York. I had wings to help me fly above myself. I had unicorns as teachers and desks made of chocolate and walls made of jelly.  A rainbow of colours sparkled throughout all the essays. All sorts of animals (including ocelots) and wonderful plants were present and of course, I had some very famous people teaching me. And one of the big themes throughout was that I had kind teachers and was accepted and respected for myself. I had wonderful playgrounds to slide and jump around on, bean bags to cuddle up on when reading in the library and I was able to find my own creative self-painting in the many art rooms described. I really enjoyed reading each and every essay. All of you brought something different to your Dream Secondary School.
  • Remember that judges have their own personal preferences and will choose essays that appeal to them. A different judge might have chosen different essays to be on the shortlist.
  • The shortlist is (and in no order of preference): Caoimhe O’Neill, Aibhlin Stewart, Fleur Delassus, Fern Stewart, Zoe Coffey, and Kaelan Mulcahy O’Neill.
  • From these six essays I chose a winner — well actually two joint winners — and an essay for second place.
  • In second place is Aibhlin Stewart
  • And the two joint winners are: Zoe Coffey and Fern Stewart.
  • Fern’s piece has a really strong opening paragraph and it immediately captured me — I wanted to read on and see what type of school Fern would take me into — and I wasn’t disappointed. What you can learn from this essay is you do not have to repeat the title of an essay in the opening line — you can begin where you want to.
  • Zoe’s essay was very different — and I liked this. While she did describe the physical structure of her dream school she focused more on how people would feel there — on the emotional structure of the place. This essay shows great maturity.
  • Aibhlin approached her dream in a structured and systematic way. She laid out her essay using headings and this makes sure Aibhlin doesn’t forget anything she wants to tell us. And she tells us things in great detail. This approach helps to organize your thoughts and really think through aspects of your dream school one at the time. You could decide after writing your essay if you want to keep in the headings or not.
  • Thank you for letting me read your essays and letting me into your dreams.

Judge’s comments on the Essays Under 9 yrs. category: John Hearne

Second class in KETNS is clearly bursting with imagination.  I read some terrific ideas for secondary schools here, put together by a gang of kids who really know how to write.  Congratulations to everyone (especially the English teacher).

First place Aisling Stewart

Really well written and packed with wonderful ideas.  I love the Rocket Boost Chairs, and I love that the teachers are only allowed to use them in emergencies even more.  And the jelly bouncy castle?  Why don’t we have these already?  I also really liked the fact that Aisling is thinking of others in imagining her ideal school – no one is forced to do any sport they don’t want to, and I think too she includes sports that she doesn’t play herself.  So much great stuff in this – I can almost smell the fresh wood in the woodwork.  You can hand this one into the planners right now and tell them to get started.

Joint second place Gauhar Ruane

There’s a wonderful setting for Gauhar’s dream school – a butterfly meadow, in ‘a very light blue’ colour – a really delightful idea.  I also really liked the option to build your own instruments in the music room, and the language lab so you could communicate with new arrivals.

Joint second place Felim Walsh

More wonderful ideas in Felim’s school, from outdoor cinema to the all-you-can-eat-restaurant and the room for studying electricity so you can build robots.  Best of all though is the ‘play with pigs’ time, where the teachers let out pigs and you play with them.  Fantastic.  Wish I’d thought of it.

Third place Lucy O’Neill

Lucy’s is another school I wish I’d gone to.  A swimming pool with four slides and a Jacuzzi, and you can paraglide from big mountains.  I also really liked the microscopes for looking at germs, the forest for looking at beehives and the pet owl if you do well …

Judge’s comments on the Art Under 9 yrs. : Frank Sanford

First place: Daniel Barwell – Very high standard

Second place: Saoirse Dempsey – Creative

Third place: Roisin Bennett – Great design

Award of Merit – Roan Downes

Award of Merit – Isobelle Gunard

Judge’s comments on the Art Over 9 yrs

First place: Zoe Viser – Great colour

Seond place: Fern Stewart – Well drawn

Third place: Aibhlin Stewart – Fun, fun, fun

Award of Merit – Moya Russell

Award of Merit – Ellie Billett

The judges’ decisions are the final ones.

All students mentioned will receive a prize, which will be presented in the respective schools.  Watch this space for photos.

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