Thumbs up on results day
For some the brown envelope was a source of disappointment, something to be hidden away, concealed from view lest anyone enquire as to its contents. But for most of those congregating outside Wexford's schools last Tuesday morning that envelope was more golden than brown. Held aloft, waved in the air, it represented their future, the digits and figures therein signalling freedom, independence, a world full of opportunities.
Out a day earlier than usual, this year's Leaving Cert results saw almost two thousand young people across the county make one last nervous visit to their school, and in Wexford Town they arrived early.
At Loreto Secondary School Lisa Sheridan from Kilmore was one of those declaring herself happy with the contents of her envelope, the next step towards a career in media her reward.
'I got my first choice; Media Studies in Maynooth University, it'll be a bit of a trek but it's worth it,' she said. 'I've got on-campus accomodation up there so I'm delighted, really, really happy.'
Sophie Dempsey was equally content, her results gaining her a place in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) on its Psychology course. One of many Wexford people planning to relocate to the nearby city, Sophie said finding accomodation in Waterford would be far easier than in other economic hubs. Their colleague Chloe McGrath, although happy to pose for a photo, exited the school building with her envelope intact. Resisting temptation to sneak a peek, she would open it in the company of her parents, sharing the moment with those closest to her.
Pessimism gave way to relief at the CBS as students, almost to a man, declared they had 'done better than they thought'.
Joseph Kennedy hoped his 339 points would gain him entry to UCD's History and Politics course, but, given the circumstances, he was just happy to be talking about college. Family commitments had threatened to derail Joseph's school year, forcing him to miss a number of classes.
'I missed half of the year of school so I'm really happy with that. I'm hoping to go to University College Dublin (UCD), but with 339 points I don't know about that, it'll be close,' he said.
'Buzzing' was how Daniel Tsapchuk described himself, his tally of 372 points enough to see him into WIT.
'I'll be honest I was expecting to fail everything, I was so much more nervous for today then I was for the actual thing, but it's all over now, new chapter, new life, off to college.' Daniel said. 'I'll be doing business in WIT. I'm really excited, I have a few friends that are going there doing the same course, half of Wexford is going there it seems. The plan is to stay home for the first year and commute for a bit, then move to Waterford when I'm older and have more cash saved up.'
Carlos Sasaran was a little more circumspect, but his future appeared bright nonetheless.
'Intermediate is the best way to describe it, could have went better, could have went worse. But I'm taking a year off to play rugby with Romania,' he smiled.
His friend Marcin Bryla was also downbeat, but he too had a back-up plan.
'I didn't get my course, didn't get my points, but I'm positive, I'm still happy. I think I'll study abroad, it's a sign now, it's time to go. I want to go to Finland to do Physiotherapy, we'll see how it goes,' Marcin said.
St Peter's student Iarla Boyce continued this trend, admitting he wasn't particularly pleased with his results but that he still had options available to him.
'I didn't get the points, but there's specific results I'm happy with. I didn't get my first choice, but the second choice will be Astrophysics in Galway. I'm not sure about accommodation, I saw the prices went up so I don't know about that yet.'
Sat beside him, and summing up the contrast in emotions, was Sean Crosbie, a young man from Newbay who had achieved everything he had set out to do and couldn't wait for the college year to begin. Having got his first choice, Journalism in Dublin City University (DCU), Sean's thoughts were already turning to the night ahead and the graduation ball three days later.
At the Presentation the sun shone down on the scores of students, parents and teachers congregated outside the main building, its arrival summing up the mood among those present.
With no points race to concern her Megan Fitzhenry was perhaps the calmest student in the entire county.
'I want to be a guard, so points don't matter as much for me but I'm glad I did well,' she said. 'I'll go to Templemore for it, you have to have your results to apply, I've always wanted to be a detective.'
Erin Busher had her future all mapped out: 'I'm delighted with how I got on, I'm going to do Art. I'll do a portfolio in Gorey first then hopefully onto the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.'
The school's Principal, William Ryan, said this year's Sixth Class group had come through a lot during their final year at the school.
'We had some really high achievers, a lot of them are going to University. Generally they're very happy, and they had a tough year because we lost one of our members before Christmas, so they pulled together and bonded as a year group,' he said.
The rescheduling of results day meant that many of those arriving in Selskar College were a little bleary-eyed and jaded. Their Graduation Ball had taken place the night before and some had come straight from there, barely having time to change out of their gladrags in the meantime.
Resplendent in his suit, Jake Travers happily confirmed he would be beginning an apprenticeship as an electrician in the coming months and, despite the lack of sleep, said he would do his best to continue the celebrations into the night.
Karl Murphy, who said his future lies in the construction industry, was also wearing his suit but required a period of recuperation before resuming the revelry.
'I'm heading home there now and I won't go on the beer again until the weekend,' he said.
And the students weren't the only ones saying goodbye to the school, Principal Emer Ryan was leaving her role to take up a new position with the Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB).
'It's been a good day, overall I'm very pleased with it, everyone is happy, particularly with the Higher Maths results,' she said. 'But there's mixed emotions because today is my last day, I start my new job as Director of Schools with the WWETB tomorrow. Selskar College will be one of the 14 schools under my direction.'