Monday, August 19, 2013

First day of school

Today is a really BIG day for everyone. All of the kids begin at new schools and Pam has her first day with her new pupils as well. Since Maggie is beginning in high school and Peter is starting 8th grade which is the first year of middle school, we thought this was the perfect time to make the jump to public schools. The kids have been at an English-speaking international school since we came to Norway and now we're jumping to Norwegian public schools. That's exciting and scary.

Our reasons for changing schools were many. We'd like the kids to be better at speaking Norwegian for one thing. Also, they haven't met many kids in the neighborhood, language being one barrier. At the public school they will make friends who live on our street. As an added incentive for us, tuition at the international school has gotten very expensive and the price is set to jump up again this fall. It was pretty much the perfect storm of circumstances to make the change. The kids have responded bravely to the challenge!

Anna will be in 5th grade at Bispehaugen, a school famous for their music program. Many years ago it was the premiere music school in Norway and the tradition lives on. This past weekend we found that 5th graders take guitar class, and they have lots of interactive lessons on the school website for kids that want to begin early. Anna started playing on Saturday, eagerly going through the online lessons, and by Sunday she knew several chords and was playing many songs.

A girl who will be in her class lives across the street from us, and we never got to know this family, so Sunday evening we invited them over for coffee. Anna and the girl hit it off great, and Anna decided she'd ditch our plans to have me walk her to school this morning and she would walk with the neighborhood girls instead. A good start, methinks.

Peter starts at Rosenborg, the new middle school just down the road. Kids from 5 schools feed into this school, so it's a great time for him to begin when all the kids will be surrounded by strangers. They have 3 eighth grade classes, each with 47 pupils and two teachers. The first week will focus on getting kids to know each other and feeling secure. In a couple of weeks they will attend an overnight camping trip, which will be fun. Peter knows a few other boys from the neighborhood who will be attending also, so that will help.

Maggie begins at videragåendeskole, which is secondary school, grades 11-13 (kids go to school until age 19 in Norway). These schools are all different, with different focuses such as engineering or film or aquaculture or music, etc. The schools are competitive also, so it's a bit stressful for 10th graders to apply and hope they get into their schools of choice.

Maggie will be at Katedral VGS downtown, next to the cathedral (thus the name). She has gained admittance into the International Baccalaureate program, the most selective and academically challenging program in the city. We're pretty proud she's chosen this program and made it. There will be four other kids from her class last year who will be starting in the same program with her, so she's happy about that. Also, her best friend and neighbor will start at the same school in a different program, the media and communication program, so although they won't be in the same classes they will still see other at school.

Anna began at 8:30 this morning, Peter at 9:30, and Maggie at 10:30. I think Norway has figured out that teenagers need a later start time for the first few days of classes after summer. Smart!

Everything is in order and the kids are at school. We're excited to hear all about their first days.

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