IT was a momentous occasion for Dean Maguirc College this week when the local school welcomed the ‘famous five’ Conway siblings through its doors for the first time.
Tuesday was also, of course, a morning of major excitement for Austin, Eoghan, Karla, Shannon and Ursula – all aged 11 – as they joined the 104 other Year 8 pupils at the Carrickmore college.
Starting big school can sometimes present a scary prospect but perhaps it’s not so daunting when you have four brothers and sisters of the same age for moral support.
The Conway siblings from Drum Road in Cookstown – who share a birthday of May 22, 2009 – had previously attended the small rural primary school of St Mary’s in Dunamore. So starting a secondary school with 562 pupils was always going to be a bit of a change.
And it will undoubtedly have been an emotional day for parents, Nuala and Austin Conway, as they waved their children off on the next stage of their educational journey.
Although Dean Maguirc College has had quite a few sets of twins and one set of triplets down the years, this is the first time they have welcomed five siblings with the same birthday.
Principal at Dean Maguirc College, James Warnock said the two brothers and three sisters were “very excited” about starting.
“They were going through their timetables, full of enthusiasm and really eager, which is great.”
We are delighted they selected Dean Maguirc as their school,” he said.
“We had them in for an open day in January and you could see their different personalities. They are all into sport and I know they are very excited about the PE classes.”
He added, “For all the pupils coming here for the first time, it’s a big change. The five will have had each other for company but there are other children who are very apprehensive, which is understandable.”
The school had organised a phased return for pupils, with years 12 and 14 returning on Wednesday and all of the school resuming today (Thursday).
Mr Warnock continued, “At the outset it’s about getting used to the new Covid procedures which have been put in place to ensure the safety of the school community.
“The first thing is trying to get everybody aware of what’s in place. We have a one-way system, use of sanitisers and we have also had to change our break and lunch times to facilitate the numbers.
“But we are all very happy to be back again.”