Saturday, October 26, 2013

Benchama Maharat School

My new school is located in the city of Ubon Ratchathani, and is only one of the public schools in the city.  It is the highest rated in the province.

The school has a total of 4800 students in grades 7 through 12.   

Our day officially starts at 8 AM with an all school assembly.  Teachers have to check in using a  fingerprint scan by 7:50.

Students arrive at school on foot, bicycle, car, or on their scooter.  They must be inside the gates by 8:00, but of course, everyone runs on Thai time!

The school song is played over loudspeakers; a call to assembly.  When students are lined up by class,  the national anthem is played and the flag is raised, a prayer to Buddha is offered, and two students give words of wisdom for being good students/citizens for the day.  This is followed by school announcements.... no interruptions during class!

Although lined up so neatly, it is never quiet as the incessant talking drowns out the speaker.
Teachers are guilty as well.

Most days the students wear the national uniform which also dictates hair length and shoes.  On Fridays, they wear the school uniform.

For such a large school the band is pretty small.

These students are M-1, M-2, and M-3 (7th, 8th, and 9th grade).  The girls stay with the girls and the boys stay with the boys.  At least when the teachers are around.


EP, English Program, is a "school within a school".  Students must take an exam to take part, and there is a fee of 30,000 baht/semester ($1000).  While our class sizes are 30 students,
the rest of the school has classes of 50.
We also have air-conditioned classrooms which aren't available
elsewhere on campus.

There is an overhead marquis with inspirational messages.
This message has been alternating with a comment about attendance, and a quote from Audrey Hepburn.  Ya, that's right.

The classrooms are basic...

And the student bathrooms primitive....

This is a squat and splash.  For further instructions....

But the campus is beautiful, and orchids hang from overhead trellises throughout.

The gardeners are busy every hour of the day!

A spirit house

and another.

sitting areas

The first week of school is over and we hit the ground running.  Registering students, holding classes, writing lesson plans, Open House, celebrating Rama V, 
and mourning the loss of the patriarchal monk.

And this coming week is Halloween.  I've been told students take this seriously.  One year they rented two elephants to parade around campus!

There will be more to come about school, but this is enough for now.  Hope you enjoy!