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(This is an excerpt from the speech by Prin.Revathi Srinivasan ,at the Awards Function in school to appreciate the efforts of Std X students.)

Dear parents and students,

We are here  to celebrate the success of all our students at the Boards. With the stupendous results that all our 485 students have romped home, we may need a football ground soon to have a celebration get together. They have all given us moments of pride, satisfaction, contentment and joy. We hav , at Singhania School, prepared them for life.

But now, as you walk out of the portals of the school, you are stepping into a new world, a world that you have ‘ not experienced ‘ before. Having been sheltered by your family and school all the time. They steered you on to the right path, guided you, at every step. Not any more. You have to carve a niche for yourself.

The world will appear to be hypocritical, crude, ruthless at times, you may feel alone standing at the cross-roads. All that we have over years built in you is Confidence arising out of Courage. You may struggle to find the real path and also stumble at times.  Move on … don’t turn back. The ‘Law of Averages’ tells us that at some point, the fall is expected, but remember you have the greatest tool with you – that is your courage.

 The best tool that comes in handy at all times is your Courage. Courage is not something that you feel when you climb the Mount Everest or when you bully those who are weaker than you. It is about  knowing yourself, accepting yourself and doing what you believe in. It is about holding on to what you think is right and keeping off all that is wrong. It is about daring to face personal challenges and not blaming circumstance or someone else for what is not achieved.

 Be a trend setter and have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Do not seek the approval of your peers all the time and follow the trends left behind by your seniors or someone you idolise. You don’t have to be like someone. You have to be yourself and a better person each moment. For this, you have to listen and  learn from everyone, big or small. Humility will help you learn.

Many sitting in this auditorium have studied in the vernacular medium, in small schools and unknown colleges and small villages, but are they not successful today ? Does studying in a city or in an institution abroad make you any more successful?  Don’t ever feel more elitist because you have a better start.  It is your attitude, your entrepreneurial spirit, the willingness to take hurdles in your stride and the willingness to learn from your own mistakes that will make you great. Do not shy away from disruptions. It helps you to be more courageous.

In 1941, Orange, a small village in New South Wales with a small population got its first refrigerator factory. What was a small sleepy village, then became a small industrial town, where culture, education and economy flourished. In October 2013, the factory was shut down because it was taken over by a Swedish company.  300 odd workers had to find new jobs and the economy came to a standstill.  However, people did not stop living. They had worked hard to make this village a town . They  continue to build a newer world for themselves in the small town. Man made disruptions of such kind can happen any time in our lives. We must have the courage to find a new beginning.

Keep yourselves away from undue desires, expectations and greed for money, and never take things for granted. You will carve a niche for yourself, blaze new trails and bring out the best in you, only if you decide to do it.

I wish you make a mark for yourself in the field that is closest to your heart and let your passion drive you. Make the beginning today.

Good luck and blessings always!!

We just clicked as great friends – Vandana  and I . Vandana Kaval was my colleague . While I was teaching and managing he Senior School , she was in the Elementary School . What was it that we had  in common – passion for teaching , creating and innovating. Before long , we were always connected in school and off it too . Both our boys , both Sid too , were classmates too .So , we just had a lot in common.

As a trained Pre-primary teacher , I got involved into innovative practices of teaching through hands- on activities  Kaval  and I sat for long hours after school sharing ideas  for the development of curriculum. And we shared one more passion – Cookery . While she was very good in all the Chaats and fast- foods and of course  the traditional food , I was at my best for creating newer dishes . So , we shared recipes .

I was the Editor of the school magazine 13 years back and I hand-picked my team to help me in my creative endeavour . It was just fun sitting late evenings discussing , sharing weird ideas because we   wanted our magazine to be very different from the previous ones .The theme chosen was Bliss . I recall an incident vividly. While giving the final touches to our magazines at the basement office of the printer , we got a bolt .The publisher’s system had  crashed . We were readying it for  release two days later.. We could not retrieve  many of the creatives that were done .The staff with the printer/ publisher were disheartened . I looked at the watch . It was 7 pm . I told Kaval to take my car and go home . I would complete the work and return . Without  waiting for me to complete my sentence , she retorted , ” I am not going home without you . You are the Editor and I am with you .” We hugged each other and resumed work all over again.Both of us being the positive , forward -looking educators that we were ,worked in the printer’s tiny  office in an old building in Parel. Having had a task to complete , we did not realise that it was past midnight . Those were the days that we did not have mobiles . Our families  got worried when we did not even show up at 1 am . He called up the Principal to know if I was with her . She then swung into action called up the printer . And we returned at 2 am only to get back the next morning to complete our work . Such was the dedication ,grit , determination,focus,  love , understanding  that brought us together in a  bond of friendship.When I  had many responsibilities she would tell me , “I am always there for you .So , charge ahead and I am there right behind”

After that , we worked on many , many projects together, sharing issues over  lunches and butter-milk during the summer holidays when we worked . She was  sensitive but firm , fun-loving yet serious , calm yet determined ,a hard task master with a gentleness to understand people. Whenever I called her when she was sick , she would say ” Whenever I hear your voice , I get emotional and I cry . Don’t meet me till I get well because I know you will always want me to be fine You and I share a very different bond .So , just  text”.

Kaval , I will miss you a lot . Today , as I sat by your side looking at your face , I almost felt that you were looking at me and you were  saying something to me . You will be with us always and drive us through all our endeavours with your cheerful voice – Come on Sulonians! Race ahead .

No words can pay a rich tribute to a wonderful creative teacher  and a beautiful person- Vandana Kaval. May Her Soul Rest in Peace !

{Mrs Vandana Kaval , was a teacher in our school and passed away late last night  after a prolonged illness  . Singhania School and all Sulonians will always remember her with love and warmth May God  give the family the strength to bear with the immense loss}

 

We are all looking forward to all our children coming back to school after a nice ,long vacation . I am  sure that the children are wanting to get back to more so to meet up with all their friends , the fun , the play time and of course to learn too .

There  is newness in the air . you will spend a lot of time this week just exploring what’s new in the school . From the gym to the KG park to indoor play areas , ,additional computer labs and more smart boards to aid learning , to online career counselling , there’s a lot of exciting proposals for our students . Not to mention , a new exciting   menu in the canteen.

The curriculum is revamped so there are new books and the chair bags  await your arrival where you can keep  the books in school . The new student senate will take charge and the school will be buzzing with activities too .

So , we are sure that it is going to a stupendous year for you . Wishing you the very best of fun , cheer and bliss…. and lots of  deeper learning

Decades back when I completed Grade X, I walked up to my Principal’s office to submit my form for admission to Grade XI. An elderly scholar he looked up at me and asked ,” Is your father aware of your choice of electives?”  With thoughts of independence influenced by the decade of ‘Women’s Lib” movement, made me react strongly and I shot back with pride and a streak of arrogance, “I will study what I wish to. I have the marks, Sir. Where does my father come in?” And almost like an after thought added , “And he has brought up his daughter to have a mind of her own. He will be proud of me.” Principal picked up the phone and dialed an internal number and I knew he was calling my father. He then signaled that I wait outside his office. My father was on the Board of the KV Sanghatan and of the school. Perhaps, that’s why he wanted my father’s consent. At least, so I thought.

A few minutes later, I was summoned ,” You need to give it a thought. Your father is okay with what you do but I can’t accept this. A National science talent scholar, a good student, daughter of a scientist, sister of the topper of I.I.T, what’s happening? Why Humanities over all others? Good students take only Science”, he concluded. It was then that I realized where the problem was. I had caused a disruption in the staff room. My class teacher and all others tried to convince me otherwise. But, I stood my ground. There was only one influential factor – my teachers who taught me Economics, English literature. And I have never ever regretted my decision.

But, those were the days. Today, parents and students have to make very informed decisions. A wide choice of courses are available and students to a large extent can afford to experiment. The programs available are many – ISC, IB, CBSE, HSC, Integrated programs, home tutoring….There are many schools and colleges under each of these categories. It can be very confusing not just for the student but for the parent. We cannot today afford to think the way I took my decision decades back, nor can I look at my neighbor’s child and say – if he did, mine will make it too. The choice of the Course gives a direction to the goal. The choice of the institution places students on a platform and scale with like-minded students and opens new vistas. That in simple words means – What to do and Where do I study ?

Every student must think for oneself – What are you passionate about? What do you like and dislike? Which subjects interests you? Why do they appeal to you better than some others? What are the influencing factors? There could be many like being influenced by a good teacher, because your friends are choosing them, someone known to you made it big with this choice, your idol?  Where will these interest pointers lead you in the current day and what will be the relevance of this subject,may be,10 years later?

To answer the last two questions, you should first answer the first few questions. Then, look up the Net and get more information. Find out about courses and institutions that will support your interests after you finish your grade XII.

The next step would be to discuss with your parents, with experts in the field, with seniors you may or may not know personally but have done courses in your subject choice. You will understand the intricacies of your choice. Do not fall for the glamour, power, money or power. They have got it all after years of hard work. Today, it may appear as a rosy path. Remember, you will earn it all very easily if you have depth of knowledge. The depth will lead you to acquiring the right skills to support you in your passion. Parents must be open to the discussions with open ended questions. Do not quote people who did not do well with the same choice of course. There are exceptions everywhere. Support your ward with information and networking.

Equipped with clarity on the course and electives, you will have to make a choice among the institutions where you can pursue them. The core strength of an educational institution lies in its leadership and the faculty. That seals your future. The leadership will throw open opportunities to have diverse vistas and opportunities for thinking and re-thinking about the future. Infrastructure, library, labs, facilities for sports, fine arts, performing arts are equally important in the current educational scenario. While the marks card serves only as an Introduction, the interests and active and consistent participation in all other activities defines your character and personality. Again your clear vision will help you make that choice. Do not be influenced by other influencing factors.

I have at least 8 students who regret having “gone to a college to experience freedom of more time, wide circle of friends, exposure to the outside world”. But unfortunately they realize their mistake a month later and it becomes difficult to re -admit despite higher percentages. One must remember, there never ever been a free lunch and will never be. We have to earn our freedom by showing responsibility. It does not come free. If there has to be free air, we have the responsibility of ensuring we do not pollute it. We have to work towards it. Time is precious and we have to create time to pursue our interests. It wont wait for you to settle in life so that you can pursue. Academics and all other interests needs to be pursued with the same zest and enthusiasm. One takes a backseat at certain time periods. That’s how we learn to balance ourselves on the tight rope called life.

Listen to your inner voice, question it, find your answers and explore. This is the most exciting time to be a student. It has never been so full of opportunities. Just lap them up. Your energy, creativity, positive outlook and dynamism could only serve the cause of education better.

Wishing you good luck now and always!

Warm Regards,

Revathi Srinivasan

I looked out of my office window that early March morning . Hundreds of students were walking in.The gates of the school were wide open for them, almost as if to say -Welcome. But , they were not alone . They were accompanied by their parents , who had taken a day off from work . The slightly lowered heads of students quietly listening to their parents talk , eyes roving all over to spot their friends was certainly not a common sight. Their friends too were not alone . I smiled to myself . They were certainly not my 3 year old kindergartners on their first day to school . They were my 15 year old taking their strides to their first ever Board examination Center.

It is a practice that I address the students on the first day of the examinations to ease the pressures in the air.The parents wanted to be a part of the Address too . I stood behind the podium, facing almost 1500 parents, grandparents  and students and looked around . Expressions and emotions galore. I started in my own cheerful way ,” Good morning!” After a loud applause and a reciprocation of the wishes, I started ,”So , its a big day for you ,how are you ? How do you feel/”An enthusiastic loud cheerful reply – “Fine !” I smiled at the parents and asked ‘So, how are you , dear parents?”.Their silence spoke a thousand words. There was laughter from the students. Parents smiled and looked anxiously at me .I said in a matter- of- fact manner –  ” This is only a end of term examination.Relax .Look at your kids , they are so cool .” There was loud  laughter and applause now . “That’s the problem “echoed many .I smiled , (being a seasoned player)  “Please relax. Your kids are well prepared . They will do well and make you proud”

And so they did . When the results were announced ,I hardly saw an anxious face . There were no wrinkled foreheads , stressed looks . There were only smiles , chatter and excitement in the air. The comparisons begin much later . Now, it is time for the big future plans . The results have been stupendously excellent as always .Hearty congratulations to all the students and their parents . It is indeed time to revel in the glory and celebrate the success.

I wish to applaud the efforts of all the students who may not have made it to the 90+% but have worked very hard to move from 60% to 80% or even from 35% to a 75%. They are achievers too . What a quantum leap !It shows the great  potential that every  the child has . This is the benchmark that they have  created for themselves. They will , henceforth ,be motivated to raise their own benchmark each time they appear for an examination .Kudos to that belief in oneself and perseverance .I am going to celebrate their success too at an event this year.

Let’s imagine a steep mountain . It is a challenge to go on this mountaineering expedition 10% of the mountaineering enthusiasts would love to embrace the challenge , even aspire to be at the the cliff. They are trained and make it to some adventure each year. This is just one more .They need a few cheer-leaders to say -Go, we are watching!Yet another 10% believe that they can do it . Not very good and experienced but keen and determined to prove themselves . They too move up with a gentle push . 70% of the aspirants wish to be at the top , feel that they may not but are sure that they will not shy away from the challenge. They need guidance , support , understanding , training and motivation.With reassuring trainers around them , they too begin their journey up the mountain. They stop , look out and make cautious ,yet calculative moves  to reach their dream goal.

There are 4% of the aspirants ,who wish to go mountaineering  are shaky. They have never tried it before . With trainers working with them building mental and physical strength , the right skills, the positive outlook of believing in themselves ,they pick up courage with a ‘Must make it ‘ setting built within themselves. We still have 1% of the mountaineering aspirants who wish they could but don’t trust themselves .They are beginning to give up without a trial. They need confidence , morale -boosting , faith ,motivation . The skills and technicalities can follow. One motivator can make all the difference .They start their climb slowly , very cautiously , waiting for all the trainers to cheer them up .

Where  will each one of them reach ?  Where do they want to plant their flag? Let them decide.Who are we to do it for them ?Remember, we as parents and teachers are only  trainers and motivators. We cannot climb the mountain for them . We are at the base camp waiting for the good news. When they reach their goal posts , they will have inspirational stories to share.We will have smiles. While we are at the base-camp ,our  next batch of young  freshers are already ready  for their sessions.

I am at the base-camp, waiting for my next batch of mountaineering enthusiasts.

Cheerfully yours.

 

I was in a small town of Tamil Nadu last week on an official assignment. A two hour drive from the capital city of Chennai, reminded me of the fact that it was just about ten days since Vardah  took the towns by storm. The huge trees that were uprooted were cut and logs of wood lay by the side of the roads. Ironically, the wild small  trees were intact. The compound walls were crushed under the weight of the huge branches. Driving down to the school  with the Principal, I listened to the stories of hardships and wondered how difficult it must be for the children who were writing their half-yearly exams. It was only 630pm, but were in the thick of darkness. The small shops had shut down and a couple of small industries had some blinking lights giving a hint that life is normal. Invertors are not known to them and generators are a luxury.

The school day begins at 8 am and is on till 330 pm for classes Nursery to Std VIII. The day began with a morning assembly and I was invited to address the children. Despite the exams, the students were in school the whole day, with the afternoons for self-study, quite unlike schools in the city. Anxious to know how they coped with this calamities, I asked the children about it. The hands went up . Not wanting to disappoint the enthusiastic children, I patiently heard each one of the students. Next day at school  and I summarize their thoughts. Worth the read.

“Expected as it was a day earlier, we  prepared for it -mentally and physically. Basics like batteries, kerosene, food, essentials were stocked. Our parents kept cash ready for any emergency. Mentally, we started to prepare for the last few papers since we expected the Government to shut  schools for at least 3 days. Those three days were used to revise for the immediate exams. We understand  that exams can not be postponed because teachers will find it difficult to complete the portions for the finals. We can’t complain of not having electricity in school even if the temperature during the day is 30 degrees because it is a waste of money to hire generator and purchase fuel. We can just wash our faces when we are sweaty.”

“We use our afternoons in school well to study because we have only an hour before sunsets. We sleep early, so we are rested. Why grumble, fret and fume, it will only cause frustration and irritation. Accept the situation , do the best you can . Just enjoy instead of complaining. Big people go to gyms to sweat it out, we sweat naturally without paying. (evokes a lot of laughter from the gathering ). After school , all our male teachers, parents and staff volunteer to remove debris and logs of wood outside school, so that it is clear. The locals and the political leaders too carry logs of wood. They do it cheerfully despite a long day at work. We can not expect the state administration to do it all the time. We can not help there so , we help our parents at home. We  will continue to have high temperatures  and such calamities all the time, if not in Chennai, in some other part of India and even in the world. We don’t know the people who suffer , so we just read the news and say – Ayyo Paavam in Tamil (So sad ,poor souls) We have caused it , we have to face it. Moreover, it makes us tough to face other challenges that we may face when we grow up.” A young girl of Std V stunned me with -” Madam , we are facing all these hardships only once in a while. There are thousands of people in our own town and villages who face this every day of their lives…. fetching water from roadside pumps, no electricity….”

Profound thoughts..Life’s lessons spoken by children quite casually. When I left the place, I reflected on the day gone by – Are we preparing our children for life or is life doing so? The answer is  Build fitness of the mind and body. It will keep you happy always.

Keep cheerful at all times.

Warm Regards,

Revathi Srinivasan

Children’s Day..

Dear Children,

For a long time we have been celebrating Children’s Day on the 14th of November. While other special occasions for Valentines, Mothers, Fathers have got commercialized, thankfully Children’s Day has retained its very purpose and simplicity. I think every day has to be a special day for children. It is not about the celebrations as much as the essence of it..

14th November takes me back to my school days, when we were given two laddoos and were taken to the theatres for a film. The whole school would walk to the theatre after lunch. The 20+ minutes walk on the road was more enjoyable than the movie itself. Chatting, munching, added fun element. The theatre was booked for the school and we would only hope that we had a place in the balcony. It was all a matter of luck. Some had to sit in the front rows. The goodbye Girl, Airport, Hitler, The Greatest, Saturday Night Fever, Close encounters of the Third Kind, Gharonda, Amar, Akbar Anthony, ABBA, Oh God, Shirdi ke Saibaba were some of the films that we saw. It was compulsory. Packets of munchies would go down our throats if the film was not to our liking. We lined up outside the theatre, to again trot back to school. The teachers ensured that we did not get homework that day.

Today sadly, I can’t give you, my children, a taste of that. The world has changed and we have to prepare you for the change. This blog is about it. Childhood is the most beautiful phase of one’s life. I want you to retain a child like wonder, curiosity, joy , innocence, simplicity, fun that you are born with. You learn to solve a lot of complex mathematical problems with great ease, you are able to write critical essays, debate over current issues, write programs, make robots but are you able to handle yourself in unexpected situations? These skills cannot be taught. You have to learn and equip them yourself, no matter how complex things may appear outside.

While I don’t want it to be a lecture (which I personally don’t do), I want to spell out what you must know yourself. I am sure you will appreciate the concern I have, an effort to help you be strong and independent. You must learn to say please, sorry and thank you graciously. Small words of appreciation at the dining table will bring a twinkle in the eyes of your mother or grand-mother. Don’t throw your lunch time chapatis/sabzi in the bin because you have the money to eat in the canteen. Remember all the children on the streets who go hungry all through the day. Your mother too, would have ‘sacrificed’ her sleep to get up early to make your tiffin. Show appreciation and empathy. Be stingy in your words for criticism and generous with your words of appreciation.

Be a financial literate even if you are only 5. You must develop lifelong money skills. Be able to assess independently, what you like, what you want and what you need. Spend, if you must. Use resources available (easily) judiciously and do not destroy things for fun or “you are being dared”. Be it at home or in school or any public property, it is not worth spending your money wastefully. Don’t fall for someone who says money can buy anything. Money can get you a seat in a University and a course of your choice anywhere in the world but it cannot give you the self-respect nor satisfaction that you would have earned for yourself if it were with your own efforts. It will not boost your self-esteem, the feel -good factor. Take an educational loan, if you can, and work to pay up. You will be proud to be a” self-made wo/man”and no one can take credit for your success.

You are all born intelligent and with good education, you are skilled. But, you must use your cognitive skills to be able to think, reflect, create, innovate and inspire. The digital world that we live in, offers immense opportunities for your growth and development. Your wisdom should guide you to develop something that is useful for the society. Develop positive thoughts, convert your good thoughts to action. Conscious actions give you the power to create. It gives you the power to translate your personal ideas into a strong tangible process that will impact the world in a positive way. Remember that small opportunities will come often in a day, capitalize on them to get the big break. You will be surprised to unearth the potential in you.

When you wake up every morning, spend two minutes for yourself – how are you going to approach the day till the next morning? This power is yours. The choice is yours. How are you going to make the right choice to make the change? How will you ensure that the transition is smooth?

I am a great believer and a follower of this power and I have immense faith and trust in you.

Happy Children’s Day !

Warm Regards,
Revathi Srinivasan