June 15 2007

This is very random, starting a blog just a couple of weeks before the end of second term in our second year. But at 11 o’clock on a Friday night, it feels like a good idea. It may never feel like a good idea again.

Anyway, here are a few moments in the recent life of Candlebark. We’re getting ready for a soiree at the end of term, so that means a lot of activity. The hills are alive, with the… I think you know how that line goes. All the students will be soireeing, both singing and dancing, and for many, playing musical instruments.

The latest sporting craze is a game the students invented last year. It’s a form of hockey, played with tennis racquets and a tennis ball on the basketball court. It’s only recently made a comeback, but I’m glad it has (I’m John by the way, the Principal) because I love it. The game is superfast, and the players range in age from 7 to 56 (I raise the average age somewhat when I join in).

Most of the games played here are pretty much the students’ own invention, but they have a few things in common. There are no boundary lines, so the ball never goes out, which means that the game never stops. Also, there are no penalties for stoppages or infringements, because no one really cheats much, so when, for example, someone treads on the ball in hockey, it’s just accepted as an accident, and play continues — no one says anything. If someone treads on the ball deliberately, then everyone just laughs, although if a person did it too often, they’d soon get told.

A totally new development is the creation of a skipping team. Nick, a Year seven student, is a state champion skipper, and after giving a demonstration of his skills the other day to an amazed and enraptured audience he now has 23 kids who want to be in a team. He’s training them at lunchtimes.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, I’ve been trying a new approach to reading with my Grade 4 English class. The results have astonished me. On Wednesday I got them to demonstrate their prowess to the other teachers, at lunchtime. They each read aloud, from a passage they had been working on, although they didn’t know in advance which part they’d be reading. The material was about Year 10 standard, and to hear these guys, who represent a wide range of abilities, reading so fluently and confidently was very exciting.

Finally, a quick synopsis of other events: we’ve just taken delivery of a Yamaha P70 keyboard, which is a great bonus for our piano students. It’s been purchased as a result of a generous donation from the parents of a student. Kate Stewart, a grade 6 student who came from Wales to spend a term with us, has only two weeks left here, and that’s making everyone sad. Art teacher Basil Eliades and a group of wildly enthusiastic students have been making great progress on our model train layout — the trains are now whizzing through some wonderful scenery. Older students have been creating dance videos: I’ve had a few previews, and have been blown away by the sophistication and skill of their work. We’re looking at hosting a group of Japanese exchange students here next term, to further extend our students’ understanding of the wider world.

And I hope you’ve enjoyed this first instalment of Candlebark’s blog!