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Strangford College, Newtownards

Good Relations Week

20th Sep 2019


The Integrated Education Fund marked Good Relations Week with a unique event in Belfast’s Black Box.

TENX9 is a storytelling event that happens all over the world and involves nine people taking to the stage to tell a 10 minute, real story from their lives.

The theme for the special event in the Black Box was PEACE and one of the speakers who took to the stage was Mrs Cacharro, a senior teacher here at Strangford College.

Strangford College welcomed its first intake of pupils in 1997. Back then, the school had just four portacabins in Carrowdore Castle where 6 teachers looked after 64 pupils.

Mrs Cacharro has been with Strangford College since the beginning and since then, has become an advocate for integrated education.

“When I saw the jobs advertised for a new integrated school more than 20 years ago now, I knew that this would be something special and something I definitely wanted to be a part of. We started small and resources were always limited but I never doubted that I had made the right move from my previous post. In the beginning, everyone worked together and had a genuine sense of purpose. Some of my fondest memories of teaching are from those early years.

“I quickly developed a passion for integrated education and it’s only when you look back and reflect that you realise how brave many of the parents were in 1997 for deciding that they wanted their children to be educated in an integrated environment. I never experienced any negativity or felt uneasy but I understand better now the risks some people were taking. Children made long lasting friendships and in the playground, things like race or religion quickly disappeared into the background.

“Watching children from all walks of life interact with each other is most definitely the most rewarding aspect of my job. Our students learn that difference is something to be celebrated, and not shied away from and they become more tolerant to differing points of view. Once children bond over things like their favourite football team or the latest pop groups, they don’t see division any more. Race and religion don’t define who they are and that’s something we should all strive for.”

See the video attached for Mrs Cacharro’s speech. Well done! We are proud of you and all the work you have done for integrated education. 🤩

You can also keep up to date with Good Relations Week on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #GRWeek19