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Tears of joy as Co Antrim teachers visit pupils ahead of learning 'big school' fate

There were tears of joy as P7 pupils at Earlview Primary School were paid a surprise visit by their teachers ahead of them receiving confirmation of the school they will be attending in September.

Earlview Primary School teachers Joanne Darrah, Kerrice Tonkin, and classroom assistant Mandy Burns knocked doors around Carnmoney on Wednesday in a bid to lift the spirits of their pupils and deliver a letter and poem.

"Obviously P7 is a special year," Mrs Darrah said.

"We always wanted it to be as special and as memorable as possible.

"The worldwide pandemic changed the situation dramatically. We tried to do as much as we could in the short notice before the school closed."

Children across Northern Ireland are to receive their letters on Thursday advising of the secondary school they should be moving to in September.

"We just dreaded and hated the thought of those letters arriving without us seeing the children in person and preparing them and having a word with them," Mrs Darrah said.

"So a poem came to me and I jotted it down and Miss Tonkin wrote an accompanying letter.

"And as lockdown restrictions lifted slightly we thought what would better way than hand delivering it to the 29 children just a message of reassurance no matter what the letter says .. that they can excel wherever they go."

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Mrs Darrah's poem.

Mrs Darrah's poem.

Mrs Darrah's poem.

The teachers have been able to keep in contact over the app Seesaw. In their letter to the children they acknowledge the hard work they have put in and the incredible obstacles they have faced.

They also talk of their regrets and not having as much time in the classroom.

Kerrice Tonkin added: "We are so proud of the children, they have faced challenges that no other p7 class have done before."

Mandy Burns, classroom assistant said she had to be out with the teachers to deliver the letters.

"I have been with this class since P5.. I am like Mummy Mandy to them. I miss them all so much.

"I have worked at Earlview for nearly 18 years and I have seen how Mrs Darrah works.

"I was heart broken because she does so much after Easter to prepare them for big school and this year is missing out on that.

"Hopefully this is just a bit of comfort."

Pupil Lydia Keys was the first call for the group. She said the lockdown - and missing out on school - had been tough for her.

"I was so happy, I love them so much," she said.

"I fell like crying.. I wish I could bottle them up and take them with me. That has just made the lockdown so much better."

Belfast Telegraph