Over the years, PeacePlayers International’s relationship with Holy Cross Girls and Wheatfield Primary Schools has gone from strength to strength: moving from single identity sessions in each school with a one-off twinning at the end of the term, to both schools participating in the full twinning experience from Primary 4 (2nd Grade) to Primary 7 (5th Grade). The reason we have been able to engage with the schools on this level is not only due to the schools’ increasing trust in PeacePlayers but also, their trust in eachother. The two schools have worked together on several projects in the past; however, this year, PeacePlayers is the only cross-community programme in which both schools are involved.
Last week, Local Coordinator Joanne Fitzpatrick and International Fellow Meghan Houlihan visited both of the Primary 6 (4th Grade) classes for session one of the eight-week programme. Session one is used as a refresher for the 9 year-olds, during which time we discussed their expectations and reiterated “The PPI Way”.
Yesterday, pupils from Wheatfield Primary School visited Holy Cross Girls Primary School for their first twinning session. This visit may be viewed by outsiders as a short walk ‘just across the road’, but the locals understand the significance of these pupils crossing the road and playing basketball together. The pupils seem to have lost any fear there may have once been and instead are filled with curiosity and excitement.
Holy Cross Girls greeted Wheatfield with big smiles and schoolgirl giggles. Next, Wheatfield was given some insight as to what it’s like being a ‘Holy Cross Girl’ during their welcome presentation. The girls discussed the various activities they do at school; sports, Irish dancing and art. They also listed some of the annual school events such as their Halloween Hoolie, where each pupil wears their Halloween costume for a school-wide competition, and the St. Patrick’s Day Ceili, where the school celebrates the life of St. Patrick through song and dance. The pupils from Wheatfield then got the opportunity to ask the girls some questions.
After a few icebreakers and energizers, the pupils were split into four teams and were introduced to their new teammates and coaches. At this point, we ask each team to create a new team name and team cheer. Unfortunately, the team cheers were not caught on camera, as this was by far the most creative naming ceremony in PeacePlayers history. Firstly we met ‘Team Toast’ who Local Coach Tony McGaharan lead in a group huddle which resembled three of the players as slices of bread popping out of a toaster. Next up was Local Coordinator Darryl Petticrew with the “Basket-Bowlers” and their team chant included the players being knocked down by a “bowling basketball”. International Fellow Rory O’Neil was next up to introduce his team, “The Peace-Out Peeps” who were definitely the coolest dudes in the room at the time. Finally, International Fellow Meghan Houlihan’s team, WheatCross, who performed a modified rendition of Kriss-Kross’ “Jump”, dominated the team introduction session. Singing the lyrics “WheatCross will make ya jump jump, Coach Meghan makes us jump jump”, complete with dance moves and topped of with splits from the girls and a backflip from Luke from Wheatfield.
Teams then competed in dribble relays and discussed the similarities and differences found within their team. The session was finished with the PeacePlayers-Northern Ireland’s native call: “What is PeacePlayers? Sweet to the beat!” and every kid left the gym with a smile and a high-five.
A great end to a spectacular day!