The Best of the Last Year

“The year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland

It’s still a week before our students get back to the school. The beginning of the year has been a zone of excitement, as well as reflection for them. There are memories that they have held close and achievements that they hope to carry forward into 2017; there are successes they have lived to the hilt and learnings which have left a lasting impact.

For our first blogpost this year, we asked our students to travel a little back in time, to share with us their best from 2016. What emerged was a mosaic of nostalgia, gratitude and stories worth drawing pride from. Here is a peek into the best of the past year.

Having a Voice

In our Faridabad school, the first student council made its appearance. The Head Boy and the Head Girl, along with their entire office of student representatives learnt skills of leadership and working for the school community, together. The Head Boy, Arnav, cherishes the experiences where he learnt how to make his voice heard. He adds, “Of course there have been rough bumps along the way, but now I have learnt to cope with them. At the end of each day, I reflect and ask myself if there was something I could have done and didn’t do it.” These words from a child hold so much relevance for each of us, capable of bringing about a definite difference if emulated.

For Nirvani, the same experience has been about learning to address large crowds. She says, “I have learnt so much. Earlier I was nervous in addressing large crowds, but now I think I have the confidence to do so.”

Discovering a voice was a big high for many students, and the school did its bit by facilitating exercises and programmes which aided in this process. In the words of Palak Modi, student of Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon, “The time when I mustered up all my courage and the little confidence I had to present my first spoken word piece – it was unbelievably terrific! Not only did it help me break out of my shell but also provided me with manifold opportunities.”

The opportunities to shine and rise were indeed manifold. From MUN to Engaging Communicator Programme and the ongoing arts and sports exposure at the school constituted the best memory for many of our students.

Making the Most

The first edition of Shiv Nadar School Model United Nations was a resounding success, not only in terms of the scale and execution of the event, but also the experiences it brought alive for the students. Along with an awareness of global affairs, it led to interpersonal and personal learning while working with almost the entire middle and senior school fraternity together.

“I learned more about the world than I ever had before”, shares Shree Bhattaracharya, from Shiv Nadar School, Noida. Ayush Garg, the Secretary General of the Gurgaon MUN goes a bit further and says, “Other than the world, I learnt so much about myself. Being given this chance to lead from the front was fantastic, but better was learning what all does leadership skill demand.” Soumil Ray shares, “I was shy. That changed after the training sessions with Alma College.” Indeed, to make the conference a success, trainers from Alma College, with the best MUN team worldwide, had been invited in. To be the best, one must learn from the best.

Getting Professional

Carrying forward the topic of learning from the best, how can one forget the experience with Dananjaya Hettiarachchi? This World Champion of Public Speaking left a lifetime’s worth of learning in the kitty of our students and teachers. They fondly recall the gruelling sessions on public speaking, which now make them confident, graceful, poised and purposeful speakers on stage.

Shania Ratra describes the experience on behalf of many, by quoting, “The challenging part came when I got the chance to learn from the master of public speaking himself – Dananjaya Hettiarachchi. Public speaking, for me had always been difficult. However, this whole experience of standing on stage and presenting a speech, made me more comfortable, both in thought and action. It helped me speak out more.”

A bunch of these students were also selected to intern with us at the Shiv Nadar School Core Office. Almost unequivocally, they reflect fondly on the days when they had to suddenly grow up and look after their attire, conduct, time and tasks without supervision, but with answerability. “Being a 14 year old intern in a huge office was something I will never have again. It taught me a lot and made me more mature and I most definitely had a lot of fun meeting new people”, summarises Ira Sidhu from the Gurgaon school.

Nikhil Sundaresan from the Noida school also fondly remembers the rigorous Elite Residential Sports Camp which was organized for the first time for around 70 of our athletes. He shares, “At first I thought it will be a normal camp with general practice in basketball as usual, but no! The camp gave me a jump start in the game of basketball, with rigorous schedules and practice. I simply loved it. Along with our daily conditioning, the camp had unlocked in me a whole world of skills that I had never known!”

Creative and How!

Ona Dubey sums up her year in a poem, an excerpt from which is quoted her. Her experiences in the Noida school find expression thus –

It gave me my niche sport and art,
The bullseye was hit by the dart.
It had so many choices,
And none of shouting noises.
The year taught me patience and poise,
And made me a panther from a tortoise.

An entire year’s journey cannot be summed up merely via achievements, but also the relationships you build, the subtle difference of habits you cultivate and the personal growth path you build. The various trips our students went on and the night camps organized in school brought peers and teachers closer. Samarth Aggarwal from the Gurgaon school laconically summaries his 2016 as the one in which his language grades improved and he got to spend a lot more time with his favourite teachers. The latter, he thinks, was more important.

This sentiment beautifully resonates in what G. S. Charita, from the Gurgaon school, articulates, “My most significant memory of 2016 is going to be the fact that I can’t pick a single moment that was the best because this year I have been a part of many things- each better than the one before. Even some things that I truly hated helped me see the world differently. I have reconnected with some friends in ways I can’t begin to explain. I have built the habit of reading up before forming an opinion. I have begun to expand my mind in ways that I wasn’t aware of. Mostly I have truly for the first time ever had a roller coaster journey. Also I now know that the New Year isn’t new unless you do something different.”

And before you think this is the best note on which the recollection journey should end, Shania stumps you with these wonderful words –

“The end of this year, isn’t really the end. It’s an opportunity, an annual opportunity that forces one to reflect on the year gone by and implement their learnings in the year to come. So when the fun-filled roller coaster ride ends, be ready to go back on and achieve everything you want to.”

We’ll take lead from her and wish you, yet again, a fulfilling 2017. May we continue to learn and grow!

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