Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Hundreds of thousands of students made their way back to school this past week after a long summer break.
For many, it was a bittersweet moment, leaving their familiar stamping grounds to continue their academic journeys at higher levels of the system and, for some, at bigger institutions.
For the brother-and-sister pair of Chantol and Makhi Chambers, it was no different. They are now relishing the new experiences high and preparatory schools are presenting.
Chantol, who secured a place at Immaculate Conception High School after sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test in March, said she has already started to immerse herself into high-school life.
"[Last] week, I was just getting to know my new school and getting used to the different subjects, the long lines at the cafeteria and having classes all over the compound, but it is fun so far," said the 11-year-old first-form pupil.
As for her six-year-old brother, Makhi, his experience during the first week of school was, perhaps, not much fun.
"I didn't talk on the first day of school, and I wanted to cry when Mommy left me, but I didn't cry because I couldn't cry in front of the class," Makhi told The Sunday Gleaner.
LOOKS FORWARD TO PLAYTIME
However, the articulate child, who just entered grade one at St Andrew Preparatory, said despite his initial apprehension, he was already making new friends and looking forward to the playground activities.
"I am looking forward to playing football and meeting some more new friends so we can play together. I already have one friend at school that I knew from before grade one," he said.
Makhi said his major disappointment last week was that he did not get enough classwork to do.
Chantol, on the other hand, was not so lucky. She said she was already bombarded with work, including several take-home assignments.
"Already, I have a lot of work. This week, I got homework every day and about five on one day. But I do them first thing when I get home now," she said.
However, her biggest challenge is not the increased number of subjects or workload she has to contend with compared to preparatory school, but the new way in which notes are dictated and not written on the boards by teachers.
"You know, they don't write notes on the board anymore! Now, the teachers read and you have to take the notes in your book, and you have to be keeping up with them. I guess that's something I'm going to have to get used to," Chantol said.
She is also looking forward to the extra-curricular activities such as art and craft, drama, swimming, and she might even take up the guitar.
NEW TRANSPORT ROUTINE
Both children are also adjusting to the new commute. Even though they say they are used to the early travel to school, their mother, Suzilee McLean-Chambers, who most times is responsible for dropping them off and picking them up after school, said she now has to adopt a new pattern.
"The traffic taking one up to Constant Spring and coming down to Half-Way Tree is something that will take some time getting used to. But I am already working out a rhythm," McLean-Chambers shared.
The busy mom, who works as an air-traffic controller and instructor, said having one child entering high school and another starting at the primary level has its ups and downs.
"The good thing is that you can focus on them both because they require different levels of attention in terms of schoolwork. But financially, you have to find everything new for each one because they are at two different levels of the system. So the sharing of books and those things are not really possible," McLean-Chambers pointed out.
However, despite that, she was excited when she saw her daughter and son off for the first time entering their respective schools this week.
"I think I was more excited than they were. To have my first child off to high school and my son beginning grade one, all in one week, was just lovely," the doting mother said.
As for Chantol and Makhi, they cannot wait to enter the second week at their new schools, where they expect things to get even more stimulating.