Before I write about my experience, I would like to tell you about how my school is structured. We have four sections – the Montessori (pre-primary/kindergarten) section, the primary (aka elementary school) section, the secondary and higher secondary (aka middle and high school) section and the Global School (IGCSE) section. Each of these sections have their own buildings and own student parliaments. However, we are all students of the same school and our buildings are on a common campus which is huge. I really admire this structure and the tremendous number of opportunities given to us
students to showcase our talent, not just in academics, but also in various other fields. I really love my alma mater.
When I went to elementary school (primary school), I was selected to be a part of the student parliament. The teachers decided that the role of the Education Minister would be ideal for me. I was delighted to be elected and honoured to be officially invested into the primary student parliament of my school. Unfortunately, as we were only nine-year-olds, we could not perform specific duties according to the portfolios handed to us; we were supposed to maintain the general discipline of the school. We had assemblies everyday, during the course of which we prayed, sang praise and worship songs, heard the news, weather reports and sang the school and national anthems. Sometimes, we had intercom assemblies, and this is where our role was the hardest. We had to ensure that all the students behaved well and listened to the assemblies obediently. We moved from one classroom to another, fulfilling our duties.
When I went to the ninth grade, I was eligible to contest for the elections again. Our secondary and senior secondary sections had a huge parliament, consisting of sixty-eight members. We had six Executive members – President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Deputy PM, Speaker and Deputy Speaker. We also had twelve cabinet ministers and their Deputies – Education, Communication, Environment, Finance, External Affairs, Health, Commerce and Industries, Law and Justice, Sports, Human Resource, Home and Transport. This time, the election procedure was a little bit different, more interesting, challenging and formal…
I remember the day the principal announced for all those who were interested to be a member of student parliament to assemble in the Phys. Ed. room and they had to push the Table Tennis to one side after folding them because there were just too many people and they couldn’t accommodate all of them without doing so. The Princi and teacher coordinator came in a few minutes later, hushing everyone up, asking us how we could be so irresponsible if we were to join the parliament. Me and my best friend were discussing which post we would take up as we had to fill that up in the form. For sixty-eight posts there were about two hundred applicants of which a hundred and thirty-eight were nominated by the teachers. Hence, there were two nominated members for each post.
Filling the form up was quite a difficult task. We had to choose a post first. Ninth graders were allowed to choose only Deputy Cabinet Ministries. We had to actually write about why we were choosing a particular post and our achievements in that field. My class teacher was an amazing help and support; she asked me to contest for the deputy science and environment minister because she said I was responsible enough and I would enjoy my duty because I was a part of a Civic club last year. So, off I went with the form. My bestie chose the post of Deputy Finance Minister, probably because she was, is and will always be a math genius…
I was nominated and so was my bestie since we had a clean record in the school along with a fairly good academic record. However, we both had tough competitors against us. I had an ex-classmate, a very famous and intelligent girl against me. My bestie was against a classic nerd dude who was famous for winning quite a few quiz competitions. It was a tough fight and the only way we could win was by campaigning very hard. And guess what? We did win by doing so… !! 🙂 That’s when most people couldn’t believe their ears…
My opponent went into the opposition party. My minister was from eleventh grade, and she was amazing. The environment ministers, including the opposition minister and deputy decided that we would work together because we had a lot of responsibilities. It was kinda crazy. There was a formal investiture ceremony held, where we were given our scarves and badges.
We regularly held student council meetings. The Speaker and his Deputy conducted them and had agendas to discuss. We would get a chance to speak and our opposition ministries could question us on the incomplete work. Every meeting had a lot of heated discussions and quarrels; the Speaker had a lot of trouble maintaining the decorum. Finally, the teachers would intervene and shut us up. The teachers could also question us on various things. And that’s where we would screw up… 😛 😀
Our school had this really ‘green’ tradition of offering the chief guests potted plants instead of a bouquet of flowers. I loved this. We were responsible to arrange this potted plant, label it with its scientific and common name, decorate it, and appoint somebody to explain the uses of the plant to the guest. Also, every time a guest came to the school for any occasion, we were the ones responsible to arrange the tree plantation ceremony, where we planted a sapling in the garden in our school’s backyard.
On the occasion of our tenth and twelfth grade students formal farewell, our Managing Director had come to visit our school. We had to arrange everything – the potted plant, the tree plantation ceremony and there was one more thing we had to be prepared for. We were supposed to pluck the fruits like papaya, banana, jackfruit, star fruit, tangerines, naseberry (aka chikoo or sapota or sapodilla), guavas, blueberries and wild figs, from our very own school garden and arrange them in a basket, decorate it and present it to the Managing Director. And luck did not favour us. My minister was given the task of being the host of the function. So, I, as the deputy had to do it all by myself. My bestie – the deputy finance minister agreed to help me in this. We started by taking a round of the entire backyard of the school aka the garden. It was so polluted with all the wrappers, pencils and pens thrown by the students from the windows of their classes that faced the garden. We started by cleaning the garden. Picking the litter took us about an hour after which we sanitized our hands. Then, we had to place placards next to each plant/tree stating the common and scientific name, since the other placards which were pre-printed were lost. To identify the plants, we took the help of our seniors – the science students. That took us about two hours. Then, it was time for lunch.
Post-lunch, we had to pluck fruits and identify them, learn their scientific names and decorate the basket. We didn’t realize how time flew by. It was already time for departure and we couldn’t leave with the seniors. The junior/primary buses left an hour later and we had to catch them. All the work was finally done, thanks to my seniors and my bestie. Next day, it was show-time. Our guest, the Managing Director was pleased to see the variety of fruits and the clean garden. She was also very happy to note that all the trees had their ‘labels’. This gave me satisfaction and joy. All my hard work had paid off. My minister congratulated me on being able to complete her duties as well as mine. I probably would never have done all this without my bestie’s and seniors’ help, I told her. She was very happy and offered me her badge, as a joke. I took it and proudly wore it for two seconds and returned it back to her. We laughed out loud together and enjoyed the farewell.