I am happy to say that the first day of school was a great success! Addie and Ender were very apprehensive going into it, but it seems that all of their fears were unfounded.
The day began with us getting up at 6am. Kids were great at getting clothes on, teeth brushed, and dirty clothes put away. A bit more difficult was the packing of the lunches…there aren’t a heck of a lot of choices here right now and they were not too thrilled with what I presented to them. However, we figured something out and were in the car at 7:02. Mujeeb, always erring on the side of caution, told us that we should give ourselves 40 minutes to get there. It took 20, so we were plenty early and had a chance to look around the school grounds a bit.
To enter the school you have to pass through the guarded front gate. In the morning it is open to allow parents and kids to come in, but as soon as 8 am rolls around the gate is closed and visitors have to talk with the guard to be allowed in. The school is actually a grouping of a couple of buildings. There is a nice green area with picnic tables where the kids can eat lunch, with an overhang for rainy days. A great playground sits off to the side. A round, curving brick staircase leads up to the 2nd floor of classrooms in the main building. If it were inside and made of marble, it would be the type of staircase that a southern bell would drift down in a classic movie.
We were soon directed to the open area where chairs had been set up with a bunch of good sized throw rugs placed on the ground in front of them. Each rug designated an age group, and the kids were shown what rugs to sit on.
Addie looked positively green by this point, she was so nervous. Surrounded by her peers of many nations, she seemed to be the palest creature around…even lighter than the little blond girl next to her. I thought she was going to be sick, really. Ender, too, was unnaturally subdued. He sat on the rug as the other 1st graders filed in and for once had absolutely nothing to say.
The music teacher was introduced and she, with the help of her keyboard, led the kids in a song. Then the principal came up and gave his two cents worth. He gave us a lot of facts about the school… this year there are record numbers, 156 students in the elementary portion, breaking last year’s record of 142. Of those, about 42% are US citizens, 17% Indian Nationals (most of whom have been living in other countries and have returned to Hyderabad recently), 10% British and 4% Australian. Along with those, the rest of the kids come from an astounding 22 other countries including Japan, Ethiopia and Mexico. 1/3 of the student body in the Elementary grades are new this year, so Addie and Ender have a lot of company.
The VP came up and talked for a bit and introduced the teachers. She is the one who runs the school for the most part as the Principal works from the middle/high school campus across town. Both campuses are “The International School of Hyderabad”, but they are separate because of space right now. The new elementary is currently being built on the Middle/High School grounds and should be ready next year.
So, after the presentations, the teachers led the children to their respective rooms. Scott and I stuck around a bit and chatted with a few of the parents, figured out the bus route, and bought the required PE uniforms. Afterwards we snuck up to the kids rooms (both on the 2nd floor up that pretty staircase) and gave them one peek through the door.
It was hard leaving them in the middle of Hyderabad and going back home. I tried not to worry, but of course all kinds of terrible thought were running through my head. What if something happened to Scott and I and the kids were orphaned in the middle of India? What if they somehow got on the bus when they weren’t supposed to, how could they tell anyone where they lived since I had neglected to teach them their new address and phone numbers?? Exhausting myself with those stupid worries on the ride home, I arrived at the house and promptly fell asleep.
We picked them up at 2:30. Ender came bounding down the steps first, full of excitement. He told us about his teacher, the new friends he met, the things he did. He declared that he didn’t want to leave! He was quite impressed with the playground and the fact that he actually got to play on it! All in all, a great day for him.
Addie was a bit more subdued. While she didn’t look like she was going to be sick anymore, she still looked rather stressed out. I think its mostly the idea of not knowing anyone. She did say that she had a good time and told me about writing about her summer vacation and playing on the playground with 2 new friends and going to Hindi class and Art class. She was exhausted, though, and her and Ender dozed off a bit in the car on the ride home.
They went to bed early tonight…let’s hope the 2nd day is as good as the first! Tomorrow is another new adventure…Taking the bus!
What a thrilling global first day in first grade for Ender and adventurous stimulating first day in third grade for Addie. Addie is living the life of a character in one of her many interesting books and Ender is just living “the life”.