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Letter from Zapallal: August 2013

 

Dear Friends,

July was a bit of a funny month with regards to the weather. A common factor has been damp, chilly mornings but for the first half of the month we had sunny afternoons; in the second half it was dismal all day. Two days last week were among the worst I can remember here; I gather the UK has been having lovely hot weather.

On 5th we had our celebrations for the Day of the Teacher; quite big thing here. It was a bit chilly but didn’t dampen too much the enthusiasm of the pupils. The 5th year were in charge of the proceedings and did a very good job, there were songs, poems, quotations, games for the teachers (musical chairs, charades...). Three youngsters from 4th year primary did a brilliant miming of a song with actions. It was difficult to believe that the children were not singing, but it said a lot for their performance, as there was tumultuous, spontaneous applause. When the main celebrations were over the 5th year invited all the staff to a little ceremony where they provided food and drink, the nibbles had been prepared by them the day before, a very impressive original tribute was read to the teachers by one of the girls.

The actual Day is 6th, which is normally a free day was a Saturday and the official ruling was that there would be no free day in lieu, however as we have another activity on a Saturday in August it was decided to have this as the ‘class day’, so the teachers got the Monday off. The first Saturday of July is the Day of the Friend, so a nice coincidence of dates this year. The Pastoral group put on a fair and in the evening a disco to raise funds.

There has been a lot of fund raising to get money for la Misión. This year, as always, a group of our 4th and 5th years joined with similar groups from our schools in Lima to go to the Sacred Valley near Cusco. They give up their two weeks holiday to help in very poor villages. There is a lot of hard manual work (and they have the blisters to show for it) but they also help out with lessons, music, games and general good company, they all find it a very enriching experience and are often saddened by the level of poverty they see – and they themselves are poor! So funds are needed to pay for the travel, food and extras for the people. This year they will be helping four communities. I hope to have some photos for the next letter.

Our girls were pretty pleased with themselves as they were the regional champions for basketball. The school also got a national prize for good order and cleanliness. A great help to this is the work of parents who pay off ‘fines’ (e.g. failure to attend obligatory parents’ meetings) by cleaning and tidying, there is constant sweeping in the school!

The last day of the first half of the school year was Día del Logro – Day of Achievement. Schools are obliged to display the work of the various departments for the benefit of the parents. Officially the date was 25th with 27th being taken up with march-pasts in honour of Fiestas Patrias – Independence Day. We decided to combine the achievements and independence celebrations on 26th. The morning was taken up with getting things ready, it’s surprising how popular the library is when there are activities, the large tables are great for preparing art work and models and there is a constant, “Have you…. scissors, paints, glue, letter stencils, coloured pencils, staplers, sticky tape etc. etc.?” Fortunately I have, thanks to funds from the charity. (These items are also available for any pupils for their homework thus relieving families of extra expenses). The afternoon was split in to time for viewing the various exhibits and for public displays of dances, drill displays, songs, music groups and a fashion display of traditional costumes made from recycled materials. It really was a good day not only for all the work and enthusiasm but also to see the staff and pupils working so well and proudly together, a good way to end the first half of the school year.

We are now on our fortnight break and can look back to a pretty good first half. Where does time go to?

Congratulations to all involved in the Facebook pages. Most impressive! Obviously also, a big thank you for all the help and support we receive. We really do need it! May you all have a lovely, safe summer break.

God bless.
Brother Mark

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