Birth of a School

The following article appeared in the special edition of The Hilltop celebrating 20th birthday of the school.

The birth of anything has a special significance in life. The moment is special, it cannot be repeated. And so, when the moment lies before us, one pauses, one does not want to rush the occasion. One does not know what lies ahead. There is something secret about the occasion. This is so for something as commonplace as clicking open an unread email (you wonder what might be in it), or cutting open an envelope you have just received from the postman, or opening a book you have just received as a present. No matter how small the occasion is, there is something special about a beginning. The moment cannot be repeated.

So it must have been when the school began, twenty years back, in 1995. At the moment of its creation, no one would have had any inkling of what lay ahead, what experiences, what joys, what adversities, what prevails, what adventures.

Twenty years back...
Twenty years back…

By all accounts it has been an eventful journey since that day – rocky at times (leaking roofs and teacher shortages and all), and glorious in its own way. The old-timers who were around at the start of the journey tell us what an utterly different landscape it presented in those days: a bare hilltop with almost nothing green growing on it, a large plain area at the top of a hill with open unrestricted view in every direction. How different it appears today, with lush vegetation all around us and trees aplenty. It is wonderful that the school has contributed to the greening of this hill. (The old-timers also tell us about the wildlife which could be spotted here, on occasion. This included even a leopard! That certainly must have been extremely exciting, though perhaps scary as well. As recently as 2012, I have seen wild boar on our hill. Sadly, they don’t seem to be around anymore. The newly constructed 11-12 cluster seems to have deflected them from their paths.)

... the Senior Audi when in its younger days
… the Senior Audi when in its younger days

It is difficult to visualise what this region must have looked like before the school came into existence. By an odd coincidence, the dam that we see close by, not far from the tip of Python Hill, came into existence just before the school itself. So this beautiful lake that we see at the base of our hill would simply have not been there, and looking down from Python Hill into the valley far below, one would only have seen a meandering Bhima River. A few months back, in May, some of us went for a walk down to the river, and we crossed over to one of the islands in the middle. (The water level had fallen very low, and large tracts of land had been exposed.) We came across a fascinating sight: the recognisable remains of dwellings which had obviously been abandoned once the waters rose because of the newly constructed dam. The contours of some of the rooms could clearly be seen. In a way, all this archaeology is part of our own history. It was a moving experience for me to look upon the sight.

The birth of the school is a very special event. The must be very few endeavours that humans engage in which are so rich in possibility as starting a school, which hold out so much promise. We can be thankful that we have had the opportunity to be associated with the school in these early years.

– Shailesh Shirali

Maths Fest 2015

Math Fest 2015 was held on August 3, 2015. It was a school-wide event involving children from all classes, pre-school to class XII. They were all engaged in hands-on interactive problem solving of some kind or the other. The event had an explorative festival like atmosphere.

Spiral of Theodorus (square-root spiral)
Spiral of Theodorus (square-root spiral)

The idea behind the Math Fest was to provide mathematical challenges to children and present an exposition of mathematical concepts in a visual form to make them accessible to a diverse audience.

There were about forty activity stations, each one focusing on a key math concept presented in the form of a problem, pattern, exploration, game or puzzle. Many of the activities were organised around the theme of symmetry.

Vitruvian Man and Golden ratio
Vitruvian Man and Golden ratio

During the preparatory build-up to the event, children worked collaboratively in pairs or groups of four to make presentations to the visitors. Solving these problems required both basic mathematical skills as well as higher order thinking skills.

All the activities were hands-on and interactive. At some stations, geometric shapes and geometric 3-D models which had been prepared by the students were used, and at other counters, seeds and paper strips were used. Many of the tasks could be attempted at different levels, thus meeting the needs of young students as well as holding out a challenge for the older ones as well.

Explaining the geodesic structure
Explaining the geodesic structure

At the end of the day, two short films were screened, each with a mathematical theme. One of them was The Dot and the Line – a romance in lower dimensions; it is a charming story about geometrical entities, with extremely witty dialogues. The other one was Flatland; it is based on a novel of the same name, written by Edwin Abbott more than a century back. It features an imaginary two-dimensional world in which a few of the inhabitants become aware of the third dimension and of attempts by the State to conceal this fact. Children seemed to enjoy both the movies greatly.

Solving a puzzle
Solving a puzzle

Children and teachers alike seemed to enjoy the event, but a few felt that it could have been spread out over two days rather than be packed into a single day. We hope to have another such event a year later.

– Mathematics faculty of Sahyadri School