It's Monday morning, and we're up by 7 because we're supposed to have breakfast at 8. School starts at 9:30, but some of the students start showing up around 8:30. These are mainly the ones in charge of things like checking the library, cleaning their classroom, or writing the news on the big blackboards set against the walls outside (this particular one is actually for a "classroom" on the veranda).
At 9:30, the bell rings and the high school students gather in the courtyard for assembly. Nick, my mother, and I are called up to the stage to introduce ourselves and say what we'll be doing. The students, meanwhile, stand in front of us in long columns, one per class (grade). As usual in an Indian school, they begin with morning exercises, followed by Vande Mataram and Maa Telugu Thalliki (patriotic songs for the country and the state, respectively). On other days, they recite a prayer to Saraswathi, the goddess of education, or sing Saare Jahan Se Achcha. I'm cheating a little bit with this picture because it's actually from the next Sunday when the primary school kids joined the older students, but it'll give you an idea of what it's like.
A couple of students on stage read out the news, while those in the columns listen and then raise their hands to answer some related quiz questions. Next comes the Question Bank question, a "why?" or "how?" wondered at by a student, written down, and placed in a box near the library. Each day, the question is asked, and if none of the students know its explanation, the teachers provide the answer. Out of the questions in the box from Saturday, the teachers picked this (translated): "If we can't see or touch air, how did we ever find out what it's composed of?"
When we are done here, we are taken to the other side of the building to introduce ourselves at the end of the primary school assembly. Here, the stage is made of raised earth, and the Nursery (think preschool) through 5th graders are lined up in their own columns, standing remarkably (though of course not completely) still. I've yet to see that many five-year-olds with that much self-control anywhere in America. At the end, around 10 am, the students march off to class to the cadence of a snare drum and a very small bass drum. Left, right, left, right, though the student in front of you may be going right, left, right, left...