The Jingle Bells Race

English

9.1.-SLOW-MOTION-RUNNINGThe runners are facing the track. We are lined up at the starting line and we are waiting for the countdown. Who are we? We are the competitive runners of the Jingle Bells Race 2014. The countdown begins: 10,9,8…. For a moment, it feels as though time itself has stopped or as if everything is moving in slow-motion. Suddenly we hear the shout ‘GO’ and the spell is broken….

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flashbackIt was the last Thursday before the Christmas holiday and everyone was wearing the sports uniform. The event was called ‘Jinge Bells Fun Run’. Like most events here, any money earned will be donated to a charity. The event is mandatory for all students but you get to choose if you want to just walk, jog along at a leisurely pace or (as I did) run like hell and try to win the race.

I love running! I have already taken part in many competitive races both here in Ireland (Zombie Run) and back home in Switzerland. The rest of my class did not share my spirit of competition and they all picked walking or jogging.

checkered-flags-icon copyThe principal announced the race over the speaker system and we all had to assemble in an area near the start line. Another nice bonus: The planned chemistry test for the same day was cancelled. That’s what I call a ‘Win-Win’ situation. So I was already in a brilliant mood and ready for the race. Everyone had to wait in a very crowded area. Everyone except the competitive runners. Although I was the only one from my class to take part in the competitive race, there were quite a few from other classes. And they all looked well trained! We were allowed to wait directly behind the start line.

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MzIIuf1422397121When I heard the word ‘GO’ I started running immediately. My heart rate quickly increased as my body prepared itself for the long run. The longest run I have ever taken part in, was a 12 km run in Switzerland. So I do have a bit of experience with distance running. But this run would only cover a distance of 5km. So I tried to run at a fast pace, with the goal of overtaking most other runners at the beginning of the race. I made it to second place, with only one other runner before me. From experience I know that you should never overtake the front runner early in the race. Why? Because then you would waste a lot of energy trying to keep your pole position. The best strategy is to wait until shortly before the finish line and the run as fast as you can and overtake your opponent at the last second so that he doesn’t have time to react.

stick_figure_running_icon_800_clr_3621So I stayed behind him at the same pace for the entire run at a distance of about five meters. After 4km we saw some teachers and they were cheering us on and they were telling us that the finish line was very close. So I increased my speed and ran like crazy and tried to overtake the front runner. However, he started sprinting as well and as we turned the next corner I realized that there was still a bit of distance before the finish line. I should have waited a bit longer! So I finished the race in second place overall but I was the first place for runners of my grade. The winner was an older student (sixth grade) who has won this race for several years in a row.

After the two of us had made it past the finish line, we waited for the third place runner to arrive. And we had to wait for quite some time! The first three runners got announced over the speaker system and we all received a 10 Euro voucher for the canteen.

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By the way if any of you use twitter: This is my schools Twitter account.

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The schools twitter account doesn’t have as many followers as my blog but you can’t win everything, can you?

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Good News, Bad News

English

virtual-enterprise-network_good-and-bad-news_id5456741_size300Do you know the feeling when your teacher says: “I have both good and a bad news for you, which news would you like to hear first?” Hearing this sentence is never a good thing and to me it’s a similar feeling to cold ice water running down my back.

Can you believe my surprise when I heard exactly these words over the speaker system, just as I was sitting comfortably and listening to my teacher explaining about a particularly interesting moment in history?

Typically, people want to hear the good news first. I guess our principal must have a sixth sense, since he anticipated this and didn’t even wait for an answer. So what are the good news, you ask?

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Here’s what the principal said: “Every teacher in this school will participate in a protest march on Tuesday, so all students will have a day off.” This sounded too good to be true, right? A day off? Just like that? There must be some really bad news coming…. So I braced myself and waited….

But first here’s a short explanation of why the teachers are protesting. Apparently, the government wants to make a change to the Irish education system with regards to the Junior Certificate.

teacher-toon1In future, assessments should have more weight and should influence the final result much more than they do today. The assessments should be reviewed and corrected by your subject matter teachers. Teachers are humans too (yes, really!) and the way they assess a paper or test is always influenced by personal views and values. Every teacher has a favourite and a least favourite student, even if they would never admit this openly. So I have to agree with the teachers that would be a change for the worse. I was looking forward to my free Tuesday and “Kudos” to the teachers for standing up for what’s right even if that means standing outside in the cold Irish weather for many hours….

pop040But I still haven’t told you the bad news, which was soon revealed over the speaker system: The upcoming parent teacher meetings! As soon as the principal announced this, it got very quiet in the classroom. Every student was thinking about each time they forgot to do their homework or when they were late for school…. There was only one person in the room, who was still smiling and that was our history teacher. Clearly he was looking forward to telling the parents about our mistakes and shortcomings!

Grades_CartoonThe parent-teacher meeting was supposed to start about 30 minutes after school hours (so at about 3:45 pm). As soon as the bell rang, all students went to the canteen to wait for their parents. In my case, because my parents can’t fly over to Dublin just for an afternoon, my host parents are coming to the parent-teacher meeting on their behalf. Many students took out their phones, probably to talk to their parents. Normally, this is not allowed but on this special occasion, the school has made an exception. Actually, there’s no worse place to take out your phone and the reason is the fact that it’s the one area in school that can be seen from almost all other rooms and offices. Since phones have bright and clearly visible displays, they can easily be spotted…. The principal has a clear and direct view of the canteen from his office window. His office is very close to the canteen and he often walks around the building looking for students that are disobeying the school rules. Because of this, I have dubbed the canteen as “the Lion’s Cave”.

We don’t normally have pictures of the inside of our school (Adamstown Community College) on the public website so I took it upon myself to educate my readers by taking many pictures. Here are some recent pictures that I took while I was waiting for Margaret.

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In fact, while I was taking these pictures, I saw a lot of other parents arrive. So I started to get worried and called Margaret. I did not want to be late for the parent-teacher meetings! But she had not forgotten and told me that she would be there in a couple of minutes.

I needn’t have worried too much about the parent-teacher meetings. It’s quite different from the way these meetings are held in Switzerland. In Switzerland these meetings tend to occur more often and usually only between the head teacher and your parents. Here the meetings only happen once a year and instead of one teacher, you have to talk to all your teachers on the same day! So you get a lot more feedback and suggestions (both good and bad).

eCommerce-checklistEvery student receives a checklist. This is a list of every teacher you have to talk to during the event. The reason for the checklist is so that you don’t just talk to the ones were you know that they will provide a positive comment but also to the ones were you expect some criticism.

First you had to find your teachers. Some of them were sitting in the canteen area while others preferred to wait in the classroom. Because all of the students had to talk to all of the students, this meant that sometimes you had to wait a while because your teacher was already busy talking to someone else.

So what can I improve? All the teachers told me something I already know. I have to improve my handwriting! If I had lived during the time of World War II, my handwriting could have been used to code secret messages… But we live in peaceful times, so I should try to change my handwriting so that other people can read it too.

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I hope that you will be back for more blog posts, which I promise will not be written by hand but on my trusty computer keyboard.

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