High school journey

    Middle school, in most schools, is considered more of a transition program - one which gears the students to face the hardships of Grade 9 through 12. Though I joined DLRC in 8th grade, it had opened when I was in 7th grade, in 2015. Occasionally I used to go to the small bungalow where from DLRC was operating at the time, just to see the other students learn and my parents teach. At first, I was reluctant to get admitted into a school founded by my parents and one other individual. However, within a few months itself, my unwillingness transformed into relief. I had discovered and met some wonderful people before and during the summer of 8th grade, who then went on to become a few of my closest friends. Moreover, by joining DLRC, I had departed from the conventional schooling methods, and had arrived to one wherein the facilitators ensured we not only covered our syllabi in the given time period, but also that we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly in the process. Each assignment was creative and thought-provoking, making us think more abstractly and "out of the box". Our mentors made it a point to take us on various field trips all through the year, which gave us an insight into the topic we were either studying about, or merely just to have fun. Being a school of 50 students, and perhaps 18 in middle school altogether, enabled a high facilitator-student ratio, which resulted in each student getting sufficient support and guidance from them, as well as building a strong rapport with them. This obviously helped those of us in 8th grade prepare for Grade 9 and onwards, but in addition to that, it also nurtured our relationship skills, soft skills, and increased our maturity. The meticulously designed program catered not only to our academia, but also to our overall well being and character. These qualities got carried on with us when we commenced high school, and because of that, despite the location change of our school, we were able to apply the quality of “adaptiveness” to our surroundings, and in turn help those younger than us see the importance of it. 

    Right before we broke for summer vacation, we all had arrived at our new location: a farm. With shovels in one hand and wheelbarrows in the other, we toiled for half a month in the sweltering heat of Mid-April, laying the foundation of our school. This was an activity, which, during the time seemed ludicrous, but now simply a sweet memory when thought about the fact that we built a part of our school with our own hands, and that now, no matter what we would go on to do, DLRC would always be a part of us, and we a part of it.

     

     

     

    From the onset of 9th grade, we were settling into the reality that it was a whole other ball game. Our textbooks themselves looked different and daunting. But little did we know that the process wouldn’t be monotonous or burdensome. First off, we had the liberty to choose the subjects we wanted to study. Though this wasn’t a shocker for me, as I had heard the older kids discussing their various subjects, all the new kids were amused. It was a relief for me though, because now I could pick the subjects I had an interest in. The only issue was identifying my interests, and thus, I selected a miscellany of subjects, ranging from the sciences to humanities. Since all my classmates had not chosen the same subjects as me, while creating the timetable, I had free periods during the day, when some of my peers would be in lessons and I would be alone. This was an alien concept to me as in 8th we had a fixed timetable with the same subjects for everyone, and hence initially, it was difficult to utilize this “self-study” constructively. But within a few weeks, I was able to grasp the idea and how to use that time effectively, so that minimal work was being taken home, allowing me to focus on my extracurriculars after school. The jump between 8th and 9th was quite extensive, in the sense that the concepts we had learnt at the surface level in 8th, were now being delved into deeper, and the content was more demanding in 9th. For those of my peers who had come from CBSE or ICSE schools, it was even harder, as they hadn’t been taught the Cambridge ways like a few of us had been since 8th. But over the course of time, they too mastered it and it came to them naturally - one of the many tricks of the wondrous facilitators. We were now a school of about 100 students, yet the quality of facilitation, nor the professional intimacy we all shared had reduced. Throughout the year, we not only engaged with our textbook content, but also with various workshops, people, services and many other activities and events, to enhance our knowledge and apply our learnt content to real life settings.

    By the time 10th rolled around, we had stacks of practice papers piled up on our desks, multiple schedules pinned to the walls, and scribbled strikes through the list of papers we had solved. Like in any other school, 10th board exams were crucial, and we all understood that. However, we had immense support from everyone around us in school. They helped us make detailed plans, gave constructive feedback, guided us whenever needed be, but most importantly, they always took out time to talk to us and ensure we weren’t too stressed out or frazzled by the amount of work. Our quaint batch of 3 in 10th enabled us ample time to finish our work during school hours, because, one can only socialise for a finite amount of time. Hence after school, we had the time to engage in our own delectations, therefore, committing to our studies as well as our hobbies. This year was a bit of a drag for me, as I wasn’t used to being in such a small class; consequently at times I did feel that my social life was getting hampered, but with boards twice a year (October and February), socialising was by far the least of my worries. When grade 10 ended, something felt different. DLRC wasn’t just a normal school for me anymore. I had responsibilities, which other kids didn’t, which went beyond the fact that the co-founders were my parents, which almost made DLRC feel like a second home to me. I had been a part of this system for 3 years now and had gotten attached to it.

    11th started off with the school having at least over 200 students. I suddenly had near 20 people in my class, which was substantially a greater number than 3 from my previous year. Here again we were allowed to choose our 5 subjects from a plethora of them. The subjects we took on should’ve indicated to some extent, our potential field of studies in the future. Therefore, it was no surprise that before we finalized our subject choices, we got to sit in demo lessons for all of them. I was extremely grateful that DLRC had this in place, because out of the 5 subjects I had planned on taking, I replaced 2 of them after the demo lessons and counseling from the facilitators as to which subjects would go hand in hand. In the first month or so of school, each subject gave us a thought probing group activity to do, which in turn prompted interest in the subject and kindled friendship among group members. As the year progressed, our subject intensities also compounded 3 fold from what they were at the beginning. Some of us started facing issues in certain subjects and had large gaps in our understanding. Cambridge board’s subjects, though in name are similar to those of other boards, are in actuality, quite different. A lot of the content requires precise analysing, drawing inferences and connecting 2 far fetched ideas with a simple thread knot. As a result, it was onerous to reach the level at which we were expected to perform at. Nonetheless, this is where the facilitators swooped in and guided us. Having done this for 3 batches above us, they were now experts and knew exactly what to say when, to either boost us, or push us to do better. Unlike the previous students, we were to appear for our AS levels in the following May/June, whereas all the other batches had appeared in the following October/November. Due to this, the way that the portion was completed was a bit more stressful and cumbersome than it had been for the preceding batches, but with everyone working together we managed to get through it, only for the exams to get pushed to October anyways because of COVID-19. Though 11th was majorly studies oriented, we still had some phenomenal excursions and involvement in activities such as SIP or the internship programs which DLRC designed for us exclusively.

    For us 12th graders, now in our final year of our school, we’ve all hunkered down and gotten serious. Most of the pressure we face comes from ourselves and the impending exams. The facilitators still try their best to include us in activities which would give us a break from our academics. They make time for us and sit with us to discuss our plans for the future; they help us draw up attainable goals and schedules to manage our time; they talk us through and rub our backs during hard and stressful situations. All that’s left is for us to study from our year old text books and ace the exams. This year many of us have had to cut back on our extracurriculars and other hobbies to make time for our studies. All grade 12th students experience this, yet because DLRC hasn’t towered above us or pressurized us to get all A’s and A*s, the journey hasn’t been as draining. DLRC only strives to see improvement, even if that means going from an E to a D. Most of our facilitators actually root for students to get D’s because perhaps advocating for an A, isn’t what the child wants or needs. Every student wants to hear that people are proud of them, and by setting goals which are achievable, DLRC tries to ensure that students aren’t demotivated or unmotivated to continue on. 


    Through my 4, almost 5 years, here I have noticed that the few constants of DLRC are it’s extremely approachable, understanding and amazing facilitators, it’s constant efforts to improve the program to fit the needs and wants of the students, it’s values and flexibility, and, it’s ability to maintain fun, but decorum, during lessons. I have watched DLRC grow from its crib to a full grown house, battling off any negativity, to ensure the wellbeing of everyone within. Call me biased, but I have not till date seen more willing, able and committed leaders run such a crucial service, with such an offbeat campus. My transition from Middle school to High school, allowed me the opportunity to witness 2 wholesome and rigorous programs of DLRC, which solely happened because of DLRC’s founding principles, core values and collaborative efforts made by the facilitators, students and parent community.

     

    Avishi Dalmia 
    Grade 12 student