You can read about the school’s progress over the course of summer 2022 – summer 2023 here.
We had a wonderful Diwali celebration at school, with a cultural programme of drama, Ramayana recitation and song, all drawing on stories around Diwali. You can find a short video here:
Usually we just let each class decorate their classrooms as they wish, and then teachers and we as the family behind the school tour each room and admire what the students have done. This year, because we won’t do a major performance like we did in January last year, we decided to prepare a short play about the origins of one of the key Diwali traditions; special decoration of the corridors of the school for all to enjoy, and some singing from the Ramanyana Hindu epic of the story of Ram and Sita which is what Diwali celebrates (the end of their 14 year exile in the forest). This last part is done in a form of Hindi that is a bit like what Shakespeare is to English, so every five lines for the 41-line text, there will be a pause for explanation of the story in modern Hindi.
We also had a bazaar for the children to sell crafts they had made, as well as breakfast and snack food that they had prepared, some at home and some at school. All of our student vendors sold out and it was an interesting experience for them – these children don’t usually get to do much with money!
We have progressed well through the syllabus this year, and children are already starting to go back over what they have learned since April, revising and consolidating their knowledge, while some classes are still working through the syllabus.
We have started a Debate Team, and our students are going to state and local competitions and winning basically all of the time just because of the reasonable preparation that we help them with. In fact, it’s mostly Gaurav helping to test their thinking to develop their ideas and prepare. The sad thing is that most other teams appear at these competitions entirely unprepared, so we are actually someone disappointed that there aren’t teams giving our students more of a challenge.
Similar can be said for our Taekwondo team. Just yesterday, 31 October 2023, our team came back with several first and second place achievements in another regional competition.
On a less-positive note, this year has seen a rise in illnesses with many students, staff and family members having to take considerable time to recover. There hasn’t been anything in the media about whether this might be a strain of COVID, but the illnesses have been serious with many people being hospitalised and some even dying. We hope this situation will soon improve.
It’s been slow for us to get to grips with video editing, but here we are, with a short, condensed video (shot in a limited way on an iPhone from the audience) from our special January performance. The theme was trying to achieve a more just society in India, and being true to Indian culture and heritage.
The programme consisted of segments of dance, most with a particular message of relevance to the theme, and also original dramas portraying life in India in various phases of history. Firstly there is pre-colonial India; then there is India under the British; followed by newly free India; and lastly by modern re-enslaved India, where people are chasing a certain westernised and culturally alienated version of success in education and careers. The day itself was a major success, with the audience of well over 1,300 people being riveted the entire time, with people talking about it in the local area for quite some time to come, and videos that audience members took of various performances circulating on the internet.
On 9 January our talented Taekwondo fighters travelled to Bijnor to take part in an inter-district competition. Our six fighters came away with 3 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 2 bronze medals. They really enjoyed the day and we are very proud of them considering that there were thousands of competitors present.
4 JANUARY 2022 – AND THE RESUMPTION OF ONLINE CLASSES 10 JANUARY
Things were going pretty well, getting the children settle back into the routine of schooling. But now the Omicron variant is starting to spread in India and the government does not seem to view the importance of keeping schools open in the same way that other countries do. The government announced that schools would be closed down again from 4-14 January, however as with previous occasions we do expect this to be extended.
We are very disappointed about this renewed closure because we fear for our students, especially as major board exams are coming up next month for our class 10 and 12 girls.
In related news, our school has been selected as an examination centre which helps to raise the profile of our schools! Only female students from other schools will be coming in to sit exams with our girls. We hope very much that with online classes starting up again from Monday 10th that these board exam level students do not suffer too much in the run-up to the exams.
When we re-opened for all class levels in September, things got off to a rocky start. Here in India schools have been closed for so long (much longer than in the UK or the rest of Europe) that children had got well out of the routine of schooling. Over two-thirds of our students in the upper-primary to secondary levels had managed to keep up with their studies to an extent by following our online classes at home. But for younger children and for the least advantaged of our students this was just not possible. For some of our youngest students this meant entry to school for the very first time or just about as good as, because they might not remember much of what being in pre-primary school was like.
We have completed the half-yearly exams, and for our grade 10 and 12 girls this has been a significant milestone because, as in England, the government decided to run these board exams over two semesters just in case of further COVID-19 interruption. For these secondary school girls it has been a struggle, with some of our weaker students having fallen significantly behind. We are doing everything we can to help the girls catch up, including having specialist teachers arriving at school early to help grade 12 students in physics and chemistry.
Sporting activities have been up and running again, including Tae Kwon Do, Thai boxing, running, strength training, yoga, hand ball and volley ball. The girls are enthusiastic and love taking part in these classes before the main school day begins.
Covid is gradually abating, and our school is reopening.
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