All Posts By

Alan Whelan

Prefects

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Shalom Academy is lucky to have two excellent pupils who act as our two prefects—effectively head girl and head boy.

May I introduce Michelle Mutola and Alex Ingaya who have been pupils for years and can be relied upon for various duties such as gathering books and equipment for teachers and being great role models for the other 100-odd children.

Beans, beans, good for your heart…

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New cook Gertrude seems to have got the measure of our kitchen and children, and the conundrum of cooking for an indeterminate number of pupils each day. But one thing is for sure – she never runs out of anything. As the pupil registration grows, so too does the amount of food in the pots on our open-fired stove.

Thank goodness for some parents bringing beans, corn and firewood to help with this vital support for our children’s welfare.

 

So Many Books, So Little Time

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One of our aims this year was to add significantly to our library of text books that meet the requirements of the new Kenyan curriculum.

We bought as many books as we could fit on the back of the bike and Olive and Mr Bondi spent a happy hour or two cataloguing them.

They were soon being read and appreciated by our grade four pupils (from left) Jacqueline, Abigail, and prefect Michelle.

Meet the Parents

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Our new year parents’ meeting is always an engaging affair—mostly down to the terrific speakers: chairman of our Irovo board (beating the drum about paying fees), headteacher Mr Bondi (stressing all the new educational supplies), Vitalis (asking parents to please bring beans and firewood to help with the lunches), and Olive (giving an outsiders’ perspective on fundraising, attendance, uniforms, and future plans for the school).

The parents were then given a tour of the resource room and the ongoing infrastructure works, before being thanked with a plate of tasty food from our new cook, Gertrude.

Deskbound

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Victims of our own success, Shalom Academy soon found itself short of desks once the new cohort of pupils crammed into the classes (105 at last count).

Vitalis got straight on to the local carpenter who quickly made 15 new desks (wide enough for three little ones), providing seating for everyone. They will be painted in the school colour (sky blue) before being placed in the classrooms.

The pictures shows Vitalis and security/caretaker Gerald, and some of our new pupils using the goalpost as a trapeze while waiting for their desks to be placed in the classrooms.

A life without education is like a tree without fruit

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Two years ago Vitalis planted some seemingly nondescript plants at the bottom of the playing field.

We now have an orchard.

Pineapples, paw paws, guavas, bananas, passionfruit and avocados are about to be harvested. The paw paws especially have grown like balloons; they are so heavy it is a wonder they remain attached to the branch.

The fruit will be the centrepiece of the new breakfast menu at Shalom Academy. Many of our pupils come to school on an empty stomach, so this fruit will go some way to filling the void and helping them focus on morning studies.

St Gregory the Great

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The pupils of St Gregory’s Catholic Primary school in Deepdale, Preston are our good friends across the miles.

They have supported Shalom Academy in a variety of ways over the years—from their Send a Friend to School initiative to topping up our school lunch programme (they bought a lot of beans and helped us plant fruit trees).

They are also keen letter writers to their pen friends in Irovo.

This year they decided to add a bit of colour to their pen friends’ letters by raising money for a sackful of crayons and coloured pencils (shown here with Vitalis and headteacher Mr Bondi).

One generous St Gregory’s pupil donated an unwanted gift of two battery-powered toy train sets. We set them up in the staff room and brought in the Shalom Academy pupils class by class. They then returned to their own classes and drew the train using the coloured pencils (this was the first time they had ever seen a train—real or toy).

I Love my Teacher

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Left to right, school director Vitalis, Lona, Margret, Anita, headteacher Mr Bondi and Gladys.

Shalom Academy has welcomed two new teachers to our staff this year, both trained—Lona (fresh from college) and Margret, who came to us from a state school that was poorly run and hugely understaffed (she was teaching four classes at once!) Margret has assumed responsibility for our biggest class (PP1), her preferred age group.

Welcome Margret and Lona.

The Young Ones

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Our two-year plan is to grow the school from six to eight grades, and from 84 children to 200.

We have now reached 103 pupils in six grades. Most of the 2020 intake have gone to PP1 (Pre-primary 1)—including ‘chill dude’ Brian (before he got his new uniform), which is encouraging because we hope to retain most of these who can progress through the grades, by which time we should have reached our goal.

Then what?

N.U.D. (New Uniform Day)

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New Uniform Day is one of the annual events to which we look forward as much as the pupils at Shalom Academy. Such a simple thing as a badged blue polo shirt can transform the attitude of pupils, parents and teachers. New pupils come in a variety of get-ups—some Sunday best, others a ragtag ensemble of uniforms from other schools and hand-me downs. Once a shirt is placed on their backs, the new sense of belonging is palpable.

This year we went one better than just polo shirts—for our top grade (grade 4) we introduced navy blue trousers for the boys and pleated skirts for the girls.

It usually takes 3 weeks to reach optimum capacity at Shalom; this year, by the end of week 2, we have reached 86 pupils. We may even run out of uniforms, which would be a strange kind of success. Our target is 110.