12 November 2007

School Days Revisited!

"The class, oops introduction night, started with….a prayer! I began to think, in my groggy food poisoning state, that maybe I had turned up to the wrong place!....Then the Principal asked if there were any more comments while fixing me with a steely glare. I looked away and pretended I hadn’t heard the question."

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended an introduction night for a local Catholic school. The reason for this was because we are thinking on enrolling our eldest daughter into it when the new school term starts in late January 2008. This school would represent the first year of ‘big school’ for her. Since mentioning the words ‘big school’ our eldest has suddenly become ‘grown up’ and even started to boss around our youngest! It’s amazing how children change their habits so quickly (even quicker than what a Nun could do – very bad joke!) when they think they are growing up.

Anyway, there were a few issues about attending this introduction night. Firstly, my wife is a Sikh and I was bought up in a non religious Church of England family. So, the obvious question was why are we able to potentially send our Sikh/COE daughter to a Catholic school? Good question indeed. Fortunately, for a few years my wife attended a Catholic school in the far northern reaches of NSW which certainly helped us. Also, there was no need to ‘change’ religions to fit into proper Catholicism values for this school. Indeed, on the introduction night there were families of Muslim, Hindu, Orthodox and, of course, Catholic backgrounds as well as our own religious mixture.

However, the main issue on the night was not related to religious reasons, but rather to health. The previous day I had come home early from work and had been suffering from food poisoning. This involved numerous unintended stomach exercises and frequent visits to the bathroom! To say I was feeling weak and ill was certainly an understatement. Somehow, I managed to get myself together for the two minute drive to the potential new school.

When we got there we were invited into a room similar to that of a small assembly room. In it were a number of parents who were keen to find out more about the school and its curriculum. I was very keen to find out more too, as well as locating the nearest bathroom in case I needed to do a 100M sprint! Inside the smallish room were three teachers together with the Principal – a lovely lady who exuded so much love and passion for all things education.

The class, oops introduction night, started with….a prayer! I began to think, in my groggy food poisoning state, that maybe I had turned up to the wrong place! A prayer to start proceedings? What was this all about? All the schools that I attended had praying very low on the agenda. In fact, it was virtually non existent! Anyway, I put my hands together and listened to the prayer, which was about children, especially the ones that have nothing. By the end of it a few mothers were crying, including my wife. It was a very emotional prayer indeed.

Next, was a general introduction to the school and its educational services. All quite impressive, really.

Following the introduction the Principal asked everyone to turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves, and then explain how they felt on their first day at school. Quite a simple request. For me, however, this was quite hard. Obviously I could introduce myself easily enough – no problems there. The main problem I had was trying to remember my first school day!


There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I was unwell and secondly, my first day was so long ago I think they still had steam trains running! I turned to my wife, who was enthusiastically telling a couple about her first day at school, and I quietly whispered into her ear ‘I can’t remember my first day!!!’. My wife turned to me and said ‘of course, you can. I remember mine like it was yesterday!’. My reply was ‘erm nope, can’t remember anything!’

By now I was feeling totally inadequate. How could I be the only person who could not remember their first school day? I made a mental note to ring my mother in the UK over the next week or so and ask her about my first day experience.

To compound matters, the Principal asked for parents to reveal some of their experiences. Straight away my wife raised her hand and proceeded to inform all of her feelings and experiences. A number of other parents also contributed to the discussion. Then the Principal asked if there were any more comments while fixing me with a steely glare. I looked away and pretended I hadn’t heard the question.

For the rest of the night we learnt a lot about what the school had to offer and, yes, I was very impressed. They certainly seemed to have all bases covered in relation to the future education of our daughter.

We left the school with positive impressions of it and happy to send our daughter there, If that is what we do. For myself, I needed to do some homework to find out about my first day at school in case I am ever asked about it!

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