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A new school year for the Palestinian & Jewish children of the Primary School

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Today is a very special day at Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom primary school. The 2015-2016 school year is officially underway, with not one but two first grade classes! Parents, teachers, heads of the educational institutions and of course excited children all got up early to prepare for the opening ceremony. The new first graders found themselves in the limelight as the rest of the students welcomed them into the school with words of greeting, songs, gifts and promises of assistance. As every year, it was the special role of the 6th graders to welcome the newcomers. The presence of music, which will be one of the school’s major focuses this year, was felt at the opening ceremony: the new music teacher played the oud, joined by pupils who sang in Hebrew and Arabic.

This happy start to a new school year, with a 12% increase in our student body, signals the optimism for change that Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom brings during a particularly difficult period in Israel, in Palestine and all of our troubled region.

While acts of barbarism and cruelty towards innocents on either side proliferate amidst the septic atmosphere of a stalled political process and increasingly entrenched positions, while the Occupation approaches the half-century mark and Jews and Palestinians anxiously await the next massive explosion of violence, 181 Jewish and Palestinian children (from kindergarten through sixth grade) bear witness to the possibility of growing up together in equality and mutual respect.

They reach our school every day from a dozen towns and villages within a 20 mile radius. Besides learning to do math, to read and to write in two different alphabets, they absorb equally important kinds of learning that it is possible to acquire only in a binational school like ours. We hope, against all odds, that more and more children will be able to benefit from the special atmosphere of our school. That we were able to open, for the first time in several years, a second first-grade class, is a sign that we may succeed to enlarge the school. The principal, Carmella Ferber, says that her intention is to double its size within five years and, if the right conditions exist, to extend it through junior high school.

Carmella’s interim plans are to update the school library, upgrade computer learning at the school, and meet all of the educational needs for the student body in the years to come.

This year’s school opening was attended, besides the school community and their families, by various functionaries who spoke words of welcome and congratulations. These included the deputy head of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, the chair of the municipal society (Adnan Manaa), representatives of the parents committee, and members of the communications and development office.

All of them wished our children a very successful year and an enjoyable time. Among the good wishes were: "may you have a safe, quiet and peaceful year, full of experiences, learning and enjoyment; full of challenges and interest; full of thinking and listening; full of discoveries and enjoyment; full of interest and contemplation; full of respect for friends and elders; a successful and amazing school year."

"Our school is a growing garden and you are its flowers," said a representative of the parents committee: words with which we can certainly agree upon this bright start to the new school year.

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