Letter from Zapallal: March 2012
The last time I wrote I mentioned that as I was leaving for the airport, the final touches were being made to the preparations for the inauguration of the artificial grass pitch. I also mentioned that it would be interesting to see if the President of the Region would be present, as was advertised. He hadn’t turned up to the Leavers’ fiesta and he didn’t turn up for the inauguration either – though his name was plastered all over the place. From what I gather, the ceremony went off well. Now the pitch is in full use. During class times it is there for the school but in the evenings and at weekends it is hired out.
Another thing that happened again in my absence was the complete re-painting of the whole school, internally and externally. This was another project of the Region, with the obligatory nod to the President. All materials were supplied and parents and local inhabitants provided the workforce.
There has been a lot of activity this month. The PE department ran courses for basketball, volleyball and football. Classes were run for the pupils who had failed subjects during the year, followed by an exam because I’ve mentioned before, you can’t finish a year with a failed course. It is called recuperating.
Then there was a week of matrícula when parents have to re-sign on their children. So there are loads of queues as the parents are passed from one place to another. In addition to this there were lots of people seeking places for their children. We are well over-subscribed.
A different kind of activity has been the heavy machinery preparing the surrounding roads for tarmacking. We have had some temblores (earth tremors) recently but the shaking by the machinery has been much stronger and prolonged. At the moment the library is shuddering and the windows rattling, so much so that the puttee is falling out. It will be a relief when it’s all over.
The community of Brothers has changed. Three Brothers have gone to other communities and have been replaced by Cosme, Edvin (sic) and Junior. The first was here before so knows the place well. The other two are on their first teaching appointments so no doubt are looking forward to the start of the new school year on 1st March. In preparation for this there was an assembly of all the parents followed by a faena – communal work. Hundreds of parents were sweeping, dusting, cleaning windows and desks, washing curtains and generally tidying up.
The school was singled out for congratulations at the meeting of the heads of the school for the Region. We had the most successful candidates for Escuela de Talentos. This is really a creaming-off of the brightest pupils of all the schools. One big attraction is that everything is covered by the Region, so not the big headache of finding money for stationery materials and extras. It’s a bit sad for the schools to lose this type of pupil. We also had a successful candidate for the Colegio Mayor del Presidente de la República. The competition is nationwide and our lad came 6th out of thousands of applicants. Unfortunately here all expenses are the responsibility of the family.
I left England in snow and low temperatures to return to hot, sunny days, with everyone complaining about the heat. I never seem to get to spend spring in England but I hope it will be a lovely one for you all.
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