Jan 11, 2007

Stimulus 2006 - A Festival of Learning

Hi all,
Last three weeks of December were full of hectic activity, with almost all of the 1500 students of this school and about 100 students from outside and all 70-odd staff, working and enjoying what Abhinav has come to learn as Stimulus. It is the joy of playing games – old and traditional as well as new and exciting. It is the confidence that you are capable of learning something new and putting it across to any person – old or young, learned or simple. It is the feeling of nostalgia which sets in when you see all your friends and colleagues merrily working together unmindful of any tensions – hunger or thirst, studies or exams, success or failure … It is the satisfaction of having done things well and having got a pat-on-the-back for it. It is the pride of having done things differently and having explored your creativity. It is the awareness of the world around you in more ways than one. It is learning that you are able to think, able to act and thus able to live a happy & successful life.
There were tiny tots and young lads & lasses, preparing to sing and dance for their cultural event during the school day. Then there were exasperated parents running after them making sure that they looked good and that they ate well, for they had forgotten the world around them. There were teachers scurrying about with their plans and charts, marking the students & conducting events. And then there were the young men and women of G3 struggling with their computer skills to get their posters & videos right. Some were creative artists in that they compiled professional looking documentaries while some were business-minded professionals making sure that their entire 15-odd slide presentation fits in 2 minutes, for that was the time for which they could expect to hold sway over the audience. The audience of the exhibitions was a huge 3000 strong – mostly school children of all ages – excited and eager to learn, chatty & witty enough to quiz and confuse their friends who presented the exhibits.
What began with seminars and non-working days (to work on the projects) for G3 and sports for the G0 to G2, went through at break-neck speed with the school day, the public exhibitions, the inter-school & inter-college competitions and the G3 sports. The culmination was the G3 camp. This year standard VIII went in for a night-out for the first time, while standard XI enjoyed full two days camping. IX was out for about 4 days.
Seminars were on Defense related careers by professionals from the Naval Materials Research Lab on one hand and defence educators like Major Subhash Gawand & Colonel Chandrashekhar Ranade on the other. Keynote address by Mrs. Kavita Gadgil (m/o Flt. Lt. Abhijit Gadgil who died in a MiG crash leading to his mother taking on the Air Force establishment) was an inspiring moment for all.
Sports were as usual colorful with lots of exuberant faces shouting and howling and a lot of springy bodies jumping around. The obstacle marathon was the high-point of the event. With mental and physical hurdles to overcome the teams learnt how to stay together, how to strategize & how to support each other through the tasks.
The Defense Forces theme of Stimulus this year was a hit with the students. The projects ranging from marching tunes and badges and uniforms of the armed forces to the art of maneuvers in battles and espionage were captivating to the visitors. The Police Weapons exhibition was a brilliant demonstration of police techniques and instruments - the best part was when the students were asked to hold the AK-47’s and revolvers. The robotics people TRI showed five gizmos squirming around, while the Army and Navy PRO’s discussed career options with eager parents of teenagers. The HBCSE “Yes You Can Do It!!!” was as usual a hit with youngsters who could see science in action in their own hands.
The Abhinav Stars competition was a unique blend of intellect and wit on stage and many bright students fought hard to get through the grueling selection only to be called the Abhinav Scientist or the Abhinav Photographer amongst other titles. The high point came with the finale of the Quiz & Debate where excitement knew no bounds. The 400-strong audience seemed to know more than the tense teams competing on stage.
Camping was fun as usual…being with Nature, peaceful & without worries … oh! only the kids to take care of, though. It was a 6 day workout with the college and then the 8th & 9th students coming in to stay at the base of Matheran. Morning warm ups, flag-hoisting & drills as usual, knots & pioneering, pitching tents and learning to survive was exhausting for the students. Star-gazing in the night and movies with endless discussions about the characters are the hallmark of camping a la Abhinav. Students had to do their chores and had to take punishments for not keeping up to the discipline of the camp. But all pain was washed off in the river when we all literally chilled out once every day.
Overall the Stimulus was invigorating for one and all. I am sure it has stimulated a lot of young minds to think differently about the world around them; to observe and to analyze and then to form opinions; to feel and empathize and hence to make judgments. The theme – Defense Forces – must have motivated many a young man and many a young woman to serve the motherland with full zeal and passion. I hope I have made the difference…