October 11, 2009
The first day of this school year was surprisingly uneventful. When all the preparation work was finished, the professors still had about 3 hours of sleep left. At 9 sharp they bounced out of their beds… only to find at 9.15 that the car of a professor’s husband had broken down, and she would have to go help him right away, and would not make it to School on time, meaning, we needed a replacement asap. What to do? Oh well, it’s not our first year, we aren’t scared that easily. We did not do anything, it was too late. There was no replacement on hand, it was less than two hours before the beginning of the school-day, so the husband just had to wait. No arguing that point.
As for the rest… Everything was running suspiciously smoothly: we were welcomed into the building and given the keys from the right rooms, none of them needed repairs, all the professors came to work. Everything we needed was placed and hung in the right places, the people were assembling… and by eleven o’clock the number and names of the students present perfectly matched those on the official list. Mi-ra-cu-lous! We truly live in a world full of wonders.
On that day the parents decided for some reason that they should attend classes with their children, so they took up all the desks in the back of the auditoriums. The tutor informed me of this just as I was wondering if all of them had suddenly left, abandoning their children even before the sorting ceremony. The halls were eerily empty.
The ceremony went just fine – the Sorting Hat was in her best spirits and she produced a badge for every new student who wished to attend our School. I specifically remember one girl with wide frightened eyes. She had two ponytails with big bright bows tied almost on the top of her head. And just as she was sitting down to have the Sorting Hat placed on her head, both she and I suddenly realized – it won’t fit! Not to worry, I simply disregarded the hairdresser’s artwork and pulled the Hat on top of it all. The child breathed with relief.
The sorting of first- and second-year students went normally, as for the third year… As soon as I walked into the room to take our new students to meet the Sorting Hat, I realized that we needed an emergency boost of magical energies. On the invariably popular lesson of Magical Dynamics, half the class was absent-mindedly studying the walls, instead of listening to Professor Edwin. Well, this bunch of students, who are now in their third year, has always been somewhat unordinary. Sometimes I feel it has something to do with the year when these kids were born… The first thing they requested was to let them have a look at the Hat. They were hoping to discover the secret spot where the badges were hidden. Little naive idealists! They thought they were the first to be so smart! So they searched, did not find anything and quieted down. When their time came, each found a badge waiting for them inside the Hat, some boys got a go at pulling faces, and I observed with something resembling pride that the worst daredevils had ended up in my House, just as usual. Is this part of my karma, or something?
The bell announcing the end of the first period sounded soon after we were finished with sorting new students. During the break, Professor Skald and Professor Eidan-Green played our anthem as always They had the bagpipes and a whistle, the children were happy, and so, it seemed, were the parents. I gave a speech. A minute-and-a-half speech, but very heart-felt. Almost like Dumbledore’s famous “Tuck in!” And so the season began. My second period was free, and I spent most of it discussing psychological intricacies of teaching magic to children with the new Charms professor: should one tell children that the “spells” can cause actual harm, if one uses them thoughtlessly? Absolutely yes! – we decided. Despite the fact that this will force us to make children concentrate on the negative possibilities. Then again, if you want to protect the up-coming generation from drugs, you cannot just hush the existence of such substances. The information should be in plain sight, everything should be clear and boring, and so hold no appeal. If we know for a fact that an exasperated exclamation can program a person’s consciousness, then we need to make it clear to the children as well. They need to learn to control their intentions. During the third period I was meeting with the parents who expressed their interest in attending the adult course. I explained the program of studies. It felt wonderful to have a chance to speak without adapting your thoughts, in order to be understood by children… I told them the whole truth: for example, that the professor of History of Magic does not present his material in a systematic predetermined order, rather he does it by semantic areas. Which means that if you do not understand something, feel free to ask and he just might answer you, and you just might understand his answer. Or the next one. History of Magic is a wonderful and exciting subject! Oh, well, a sense of humor is a prerequisite when dealing with children, and with adults it often helps as well. At the end of our discussion we had enough people willing to join, which meant we were going to have an adult program this year. And many of the parents expressed a wish to have more practical exercises. Well, my conscience is clear – I warned you…
Then I had a class with the third-year-students. This was something that went even beyond the usual: almost all your energy and time was spent on keeping them reasonably quiet, I had almost no time left for actual teaching. I had to resort to Snape-style tactics. Our new-coming Professor Umberta who was present at my first lesson only asked: “Is Toporkin always like this?” (I had to take him out of the room leading him by the ear, followed by the chair he had been hopping on.) “He is,” I replied. And I saw her eyes turning… well, thoughtful. One student from the same third-year gang asked Professor Leo if he could stop wearing his House badge to School. Professor Leo nicely answered: “You can, but we detract points for this.” The boy insists: “The badge is tearing my gown.” Of course, it does, no doubt about it, especially if one uses the badge to pin the two folds of the gown together and then tries to jump out of it.
By contrast, teaching to the fifth-year students is pure delight. The kids are grown-ups, there are not as many of them, all have attended Ostentum before and they know that lessons are more fun if you play by the rules. We had a most fruitful talk.
It seems, the newcomers enjoyed their first day. They were going home satisfied and in good spirits, and the starving professors went off to their favorite Chinese restaurant to spend their impressive wage. Surprisingly, they did not even fall asleep while recounting their adventures from the first school-day.
Today our senior class received a new student. A brunet in round specs entered the room and said: “Hello, I’m Harry Potter.” I must admit the resemblance is quite striking and these spectacles suit him just fine. Still, Harry Potter, it seems, had a better sense of humor than our candidate for a full load of cosmic disasters. In my own class, I asked him: “Would really like to be in Harry’s place? With all the misfortunes and the heavy load of responsibility?” The young gentlemen appeared to reconsider…
Well, our newcomers this year are definitely something, especially the infamous third-year group. Cervus people are generally quiet folk, but Danya Rodzevich is definitely gaining momentum. Considering his abilities, his behavior may not stop him from achieving academic success. Still, if he grows any louder than he already is, we’ll need to equip our teachers with a mike.
Flammenor got lucky again – my experienced gut tells me that Vadik Kurochkin will cost our House plenty of subtracted points. Today he was evicted from class for sabotaging the lesson. Immediately, he seized the school bell and signaled for the end of the period. A logical move, nothing to say about it, but 30 point off our House. The next logical move of our new hero was to erase the entire point count from the board in the hallway. Luckily, our tutor is an old-timer and the attempt foundered. My talk with the young man has foundered as well – his mind was on fighting, not listening. Yet in the end he half-heartedly heeded to my warning that I am stronger…and had to listen to his list of choices for the future: either he does not hold a grudge and then we are friends; or he behaves like a troll and then every student in this school is my friend and he is not. Vadik was still angry and scowling, but he grew quiet. And, as I gathered, a little surprised.
Uhlwissen is doing fine– Kostya Lyubort is back. He does not yell, rather he thinks and answers, and that is a serious bid for the “gold medal”.
On the whole, even though it is noisy here, it is still great, because, it seems, kids are enjoying it and having fun. The girls in the third-year class are wonderful. Besides their eagerness to learn, I admire them for not being phased out by the boisterous young gentlemen in their class. For their age, that is something of an accomplishment.
This morning was signaled by late arrivals. Almost half the students were late to class. Why specifically today is quite beyond me. The weather is nothing special, we did not shift to Daylight Saving Time… Yet even if there is a logical reason, it will not cancel the new rule that is introduced starting from our next study session – being late results in five negative points for your House.
Today we discovered that some of our students confuse Professor Skald and Professor Eidan-Green. This is nothing new, of course, yet each time I am surprised. Ok, they both wear specs and have comparable height. Okay, perhaps, after many years of friendship their manners grew somewhat similar. Okay, they do wear black jeans and similar haircuts. Still, they are two absolutely different professors! They teach different courses, and on top of that – they wear gowns of different color!! For those with lapses of attention I repeat: Professor Skald is the one in the red-and-green gown, and Professor Eidan-Green has the blue gown. No more of this silliness, my dear students!
I was introducing the topic of the lesson – conscious control of sensory input – and I suddenly had a most comforting thought: it is indeed lucky that the Sorting Hat had assigned Toporkin, Rodzevich, and Kurochkin to different Houses! None of the Houses could survive the combination of any two of them. As it is, the harmony is preserved – one trouble-maker in each row… And if you are giving the material in a very loud and clear voice, bordering on shouting in fact, then it almost all right – you can function.
Last time I could not figure out why I had trouble speaking in my senior class – my throat was tickling and I was coughing repeatedly. Now I get it: it was right after a Transfiguration with our third-year students. I was lucky not to lose my voice altogether. Thankfully, our seniors are nothing if not understanding, teaching them is always a rewarding task. They waited patiently for the professor to finish her coughing fit, take a deep breath and proceed, listening attentively to her every word. When the bell rang, our conversation was still going on, disturbed only by the tremendous noise from the school hallway – it was the younger students racing for bagels and juice – elephantine, roaring, and whooping. Our respectable fifth-year students simply burst out laughing. Maybe they forgot how only a few years ago they were sweeping down the hall the same way, no broomsticks needed.
Yet the younger students are worthy of their predecessors. Leva Levizanov, a freshmen, seemed to be picturing himself as a racing car as he sped up and went into steep turns maneuvering the hall with terrible screeching sound. When I sternly asked him what he thought he was doing, the young man straightened with dignity and saluted me with a most serious air – as if to say, “not to worry, Professor, everything is under control.” And with that he marched off to class.
Today we started subtracting points for being late. Minus five for each late student. All-in-all, quite a few points. After the first class period the children went to check the point count, as usual. And then I heard the following conversation:
– Why is it we have two times minus five?
– That’s for the students who were late.
Hmm, the children express their feelings rather succinctly. I wonder who they meant: the students or the School administration.
After the second break we were hard put to find a suitable answer for children who wanted a second helping of juice and bagels. Each time the children see that there is more food left on the table they try to put it to good use. Is it that the bagels are so tasty? The tutor explains that professors are people, too, and they do eat. The children find it hard to believe. Professor Ilma suggested a motto: If the professors have had their snack, the students are better off, too. Perhaps, this will get the message through.
The seniors insisted their next Transfiguration lesson has to be on “dark magic.” However, none could answer “what context” they had in mind. I was gratified to see that the word “context” itself does not puzzle our students that way it does some adults, and sternly repeated my question. Ksuscha Makhanova sheepishly peeped from the back row about sacrificial offerings. In response, Oleg Naumichev happily announced that he was ready. Ready for what? – I asked. For the sacrifice, – he replied. Perfect, – I exclaimed voraciously, – and what are you prepared to sacrifice? The boy hesitated, troubled by my enthusiastic response… Kids think they are the only ones to come up with dares, uh-huh. Next time we will certainly have a serious talk about sacrifices to a cause, and what comes of it. It is bound to be an exciting discussion …
On the whole, it is a peaceful day. Today we’ve put up an announcement on our point count board. It was about a concert in ‘Money-Honey’ dance club. A Scottish band and the “Bestiary” (a band that includes three of our very own professors) will play on St. Andrew’s Day. There will be Celtic and Ingermanland (Ingria) folk music. The concert is in the evening, ‘Money-Honey’ is in a different part of St. Petersburg. So we were quite stunned to hear some freshmen seriously asking whether attendance of the concert was required.
We’ve had our talk about sacrifices and the dark magic with the fifth-year students, just as promised. The discussion ended up not so much exciting as oppressing and very, very instructive. Towards the end Uhlwissen earned 15 points for answering the question: ‘Why it is that people are so attracted by the dark magic?’ – ‘Because sinking down is always easier than soaring up, – was Oleg Naumichev’s inspired reply, – Or at least, so it feels in the beginning.’ Good job! I consider the topic mastered.
Today Sasha Egorov from the senior class was not only late for a lesson and a half, he also brought along a friend of his. Just like that, without any forewarning. Which was not the right thing to do, because now I have to explain to his friend’s mother that her son has enrolled himself in a paid school; moreover, now that Vova Rudnitsky has joined our senior class, the latter begins to look alarmingly like the third-year gang. As I found out in a private conversation with Sasha, he simply decided to take Vova along so that he could study Ostentum, too. He just decided it was all right. And Vova explained that I should call his mother right away because, even though he has never been on a lesson at Ostentum, Sasha says it’s cool. Well, I would not say that my hardened heart was thawed by this complimentary claim, but I was certainly pleased to hear it.
By 11 o’clock we were joined by Oleg Kuznetsov, one of graduates. He was immediately invited to join the students at the lesson, but refused to, saying he had come for a different reason. He wanted to check with me whether his little stick carved from a birch twig was an artifact or not. His question brought upon him a pop quiz on Transfiguration, no matter that Oleg is only a former student. If you use a term, be ready to define it, and then it will immediately become clear whether it applies to the situation at hand.
During our last and second-to-last school-day sessions, Uhlwissen point count was gaining 75 points a day. Professor August-Wilhelm, who was drawing the total, ignored these suspicious 150 points until their authenticity would become clear. The fact was immediately observed by our senior students. We had to explain that the points were suspended by the evil moderator. I was surprised to see none of the kids asked any more questions. Apparently, it spoke to their personal experience.
The uncertainty with Uhlwissen extra points has been cleared up – Professor Skald and Professor Eidan-Green gave these points for written reports. 150 was added to Uhlwissen’s total, along with compliments to the students for their assiduity. Although, one could almost hear the sorrowful undertone coming from the Deans of Cervus and Flammennor, but what could they do…
Third-year students began practicing transmitting their emotive states. Vadik Kurochkin was the first to give it a try. He did just fine, although he spoke a little too softly. Still, it was great – you could immediately see that he took the task seriously and was well prepared. The children listened eagerly and discussed the results at some length. It illustrated effectively that when one puts one’s heart and soul into whatever they are doing, it commands proper respect.
Professor Skald had five lessons scheduled for today, and two of them were with the third-year students. Her fourth lesson was with the adults and that was lucky, because during these forty-five minutes the professor’s voice gradually faded and then disappeared altogether. First, Skald was just coughing and croaking, and then all she had left was a soft whisper. Her surprise lasted only until she remembered her two periods with the third-year gang, which could leave anybody’s voice hoarse. In the end, she had to cancel her last lesson, which was replaced by Transfiguration.
I’m leaving the classroom after a lesson with the senior class and I see the following picture: a mother of one our students is standing next to the blackboard with the course schedule, perusing it attentively. Somewhere out of the depths of our spacious school hallway her daughter appears and rushes up to her yelling:
– Mom, what lesson do you have now?
– Herbology and Potions, – mumbles her mother mostly to herself, her attention still riveted by the information on the board.
– I see. And we have Applied Magic. Ok, see you later.
That’s just it, isn’t it. Nobody is left out.
When the bell rings for the end of break, children, looking like baby crows with their gowns flying behind them, shoot like bullets towards their classrooms. Professor Terra and myself are striding through the hall, folders tucked under our armpits. When we pass the room with the second-year students we hear a shrill scream of our marvelous Ruslan: “Alert!” I would really like to know what has caused such an alarm: their very own teacher of Transfiguration or the presence of the School Manager? Or is it the combination of the two that is so rousing?
During the lesson with the same second-year group I decided to hold a revision session. I wanted to see how much they remembered. And, remembering an anecdote about a professor who asks about the color of the textbook and his own name, I began by asking the name of the subject we were having. Oh-oh! I immediately had a loud and enthusiastic answer from Alena: Applied Magic! I do not know what kind of look I had on my face… but the rest of the class rushed to comfort with me, exclaiming: “Transfiguration! Transfiguration! And your name is Professor Alta!” Thank you, my dears, for reminding me. I was beginning to wonder.
We cancelled our classes today due to a severe snowstorm. I called the parents and informed them that they did not have to dig themselves out untill Monday. A few amazingly weatherproof individuals expressed their regret, but most responded with a heart-felt “Thank you!” New Year presents will have to wait till after the vacation.
Despite the numbing cold, the attendance today was nearly 100%. I like to think it was because the children missed our School on their long vacation. One shouldn’t forget there was no less fresh snow lying on the ground today – we could not reach the School building by car and had to park it way out in the street and wade through deep snow, carrying all our props and snacks in our hands. All-in-all, there was more than one reason to feel good about the level of attendance.
However, the euphoria did not last. After the first period, Professor August-Wilhelm stormed out of his class of History of Magic with the third-year students in such a rage that it was really scary. He shot a glowering look at Seva Kovalenko, caught Vadik Kurochkin in the doorway (Vadik spent a portion of the lesson evicted into the hallway) and marched him towards the board with the point count. It was through sheer accident that halfway down he ran into the Dean of Flammenor, who had free time for meditative talks on mercy and existential goals. Sometimes I wonder if the Hat does it on purpose, leaving me and my House with the most mischievous heads.
Oleg Kuznetsov came to visit again, this time he brought a camera. Soon we will post new photos on our website, but first we need to edit them. Oleg shoots professional-style and some pictures weigh almost 2 megabytes.
Professor Gutmacher asserts that the third-year class behaved nicely during their Applied Magic lesson. They listened attentively and worked hard. This is great news, bordering on a miracle. Apparently, with Professor Gutmacher, Applied Magic is, really, applied magic. Astounding!
Senior students were drawing images of abstract concepts in their Transfiguration class. Kostya Lyubort, who was transferred one class up for his impressive academic feats, performed the task masterfully, as it was to be expected. While another young man, whose age corresponds to the class he is enrolled in, had a difficult time with this assignment. Sometimes, when I see how the child is striving, I want to seek out his mother and explain to her that it is often best to help children with something specific, rather than increase the general level of exigencies. If those exigencies exceed the current capacities of the child, he or she simply stops believing in themselves. And that runs much deeper than poor grades at school…
Dima Kapakli from Cervus really wanted to boost the total count for his House, so when he received only five points for his homework he got angry. The wise professors suggested that rather than getting upset he should write a report on Magical Creatures or Potions. Professors Skald and Eidan-Green have a soft spot for reports, they give huge rewards for this kind of work and the total count just spins out of control – we have seen it happen before. The boy went home enlightened.
It is extremely cold again, but most students came nevertheless.
Our third-year Transfiguration class again began with “transmitting.” This time it was Danya Rodzevich who was telling a story to the class, striving to share with the classmates the images appearing in his mind. Good. It was clear he was doing his best and came prepared. Only it was not a very good idea to laugh while talking. As a result, the idyllic atmosphere of peaceful rest in the countryside ended up being a little lopsided.
Professor Gutmacher today was not happy with the boisterous behavior of the freshmen class and so she subtly asked them: “Would the children like to see her get angry?” The brave and curious students immediately agreed and froze like startled mice, waiting for the thunderstorm. The professor calmly announced that she was very angry and, profiting from the silence, went on with her lesson. It appeared the children completely forgot about lightning bolts, as well as about their attempts to distract the teacher.
We have two new students in our adult class and the atmosphere in History of Magic has definitely changed for the better. More questions from the audience and a better understanding between the students and the professor. Well, as I warned them on the first day – the more questions you ask the more instructive and fun the lesson gets.
Nikita Toporkin grew quiet and respectful. In comparison with the previous years, of course. Professor Skald was generous in her compliments in front of his grandmother. The latter was much relieved, because when she came to the School at the end of the day she went to the count board right away and, seeing points taken away from Uhlwissen, she immediately assumed that Nikita was responsible. She has unfortunate past experience, let’s hope the situation will only keep improving.
The cold weather is taking its toll, having caused Professor Umberta to completely lose her voice. As a result, the younger students had a pop quiz on Charms. It probably goes without saying that the test was in writing. The freshmen were paralyzed with fear. Reading, writing, and keeping their silence proved to be beyond their capacities and the written test gradually evolved into a spontaneous discussion. Either from fear, or from empathy with the poor professor, the students also talked in hushed whispers. The end result was quite unexpected – everybody enjoyed the class, and nobody grew tired from the noise. Something to file away for the future.
Sophomores, by contrast, were outraged by the unexpected test, and the vehemently hissing professor had to threaten them with an equally unexpected surge in distribution of negative points. On the other hand, the professor was deeply gratified to see that Masha, a student who had only recently joined our School, was able to answer almost all of the questions. Unlike some of the sophomores who had a freshmen-like scare. Masha also surpassed everybody in her search for synonyms, impressing me not only with their sheer number, but originality as well. Perhaps, I should come up with two different syllabi – one for Masha, and the second – for the rest of the class. Another solution would be to invite her to join our third-year students.
It finally got warmer today, and we had… fewer people. No way to figure out these mages!
It was a rather challenging day: both the tutor and the accountant were absent. So it was the professors who had to ring the bell and monitor the hallway during breaks. And, as the School Manager, I was tasked with receiving tuition from the parents. It turned out to be a simple affair, since almost none of the parents brought any and the professors did not remember to ask about their pay. Given its meager size, dropping the subject altogether probably seemed the right thing to do. When the second break approached, we found ourselves as if in the middle of a horror movie:
Professor Umberta has just given the ring, I am finishing the lesson in the senior class, children keep asking question, they are not letting me go, and we are all wondering – what’s all that uproar that we hear from the hallway. I leave the room and suddenly I get it – breakfast!! Usually we have a little snack during this break, and the food is normally unpacked by the tutor during the second period. As it is, the juice packs and the bagels are still sitting in their boxes, and the School, down to its last student, seems about to go on a fasting strike.
Surely, we remedied the situation quickly and then had a good laugh about it – both the students and the professors. But that was much later. While at that particular moment when I entered the hallway I was sincerely convinced that we were about to be eaten, and with just the same degree of excitement and appreciation as the students’ favorite bagels.
I was told Ruslan is bothering Yulia in the second-year class. And Yulia, of course, is bothering Ruslan. That is, Ruslan probably tries to get on everybody’s nerve. Not because he is mean, but rather as homage to the much respected art of rampaging. Yet Yulia alone answers him in kind. The mothers of Ruslan and Yulia are clearly not happy about the situation. Well, what can I say? A serious conversation with Ruslan is impending, and Yulia was given the following information to consider: “Let us realize that fighting is never a solution. You could come across rude people anywhere, and you need to learn to keep you calm and put them in their place.”
Nikita Toporkin, whom we had praised so much in front of his grandmother and his mother, was galloping around the room on his chair during today’s Transfiguration. At the same time, the drawing he made was quite impressive. How does he manage this? I mean, just take one look at his constant fidgeting, and it is clear – this child is physically unable to sit still for one minute. We all know, of course, that he is quite talented, and his unruly behavior does not stop him from hearing and taking in the lesson, yet to combine fidgeting and drawing… that’s some advanced aerobatics!
In the middle of the lesson, Vadik Kurochkin suddenly raced to the hallway to buy some tea. On his return, he and I had a lovely talk through the closed door, which I blocked from the inside. Generally, I’m not against hot drinks in my class, yet he might as well have asked for permission. That’s what we settled for.
Today we announced that February, 14 will be our photo-day. During the breaks Oleg will take pictures of anybody who is interested, and students can also shoot each other. Everybody seemed delighted, and only our recent newcomer, Sveta Efimova sheepishly asked: ‘Is it free?’ Oh, Sveta, I guess you don’t much about our School yet! We don’t take money for doing things that are fun, and sometimes we even pay you back for especially useful stuff:
All students who would like to visit a dramatic-musical performance “Maslenitsa (Pancake Week) a la Italian” on Feb, 11 (at Anna Akhmatova Museum in the Fountain House, the show starts at 6.30pm), please file an application for a partial refund for the entrance tickets (our School will compensate 100 rubles out of the total of 250).
This was some day. One little Sunday combined four major holidays: Chinese New Year, St. Valentine’s Day, Forgiveness Sunday (an Orthodox Christian Holiday), and Maslenitsa (Pancake celebration, the beginning of the lent season). Plus, our photo-session and a sorting ceremony for several new students. Although our School mostly concentrated on our local events, that is the last two items on the list. Still, the day was something crazy. The only thing that went smoothly was the sorting. The newcomers were behaving formally and quietly. There was only one unwelcome surprise, aka the Big-Bow. Every time I look into the worried eyes of a girl who suddenly realizes that the Hat will not fit on her, I feel like including an extra paragraph into our formal invitation letter in emerald ink. Something strict-sounding about magical haircuts.
Either because of the excess of holidays, or thanks to the presence of new students, our regular ruffians were rampaging in such a way they scared some of the parents quite for real. The sophomores went wild, showing off their toughness of experienced mages, as for the third-year… it was bordering on an outbreak – Toporkin and Kurochkin kicked up a full-scale fight, hitting each other with chairs right in the middle of my lesson. Although, there was something hesitant about their fighting style, as if at every moment they were waiting for me to pick up a chair and join them. Which never happened. Yet the kids are quite wrong if they think the incident is over. They have enjoyed themselves, and now it is my turn. They are bound for an extended debriefing with a seminar on “provocation” and ways to react to it, on fighting and possible consequences; and on decency, just in case the last point needs clarifying.
The photo-session was languishing – everybody was too busy with skirmishes and self-assertion. Let’s see what they will say when I post the photos.
It is freezing outside and somebody obliging left the window of room 314 open for the whole night. At night the temperature dropped to -23 Celsius (-10 Fahrenheit). When we entered the room there was a bank of snow on the table. The snow was feeling quite at home and had no intention of melting any time soon. Luckily, this was the room of the adult, frost-resistant mages.
The day was surprisingly peaceful and quiet. Apparently, the children decided they had proven their dashing recklessness last time. This time they were eager to please with proper behavior and academic feats. Nothing worse than one gown ending up in the garbage can. The gown belonged to Nikita Yanshin, and the prank was done by girls from his class. Yet the victim seemed more flattered, than annoyed.
Before the lesson, Diana Jurbaeva proudly demonstrated me a technological wonder, which, for some reason, she had decided to bring to School. It looks like a transparent heart set on a round base, and if you plug this absurdity into a power socket, the heart is lit by rose and purple lightning. In the middle of the lesson, when I asked all the students from the same House to move together and form a group, the girl suddenly remembered that she had left her electric heart in her old seat and dashed to retrieve it! While I was pondering why someone would need this thing badly enough to disrupt the lesson, Diana passed me on her way back to her new seat, dragging the cord of her toy on the floor. I frowned on this commotion and, immediately, the cord caught on a leg of a desk. Skree. Diana could not figure out what happened and pulled on her toy with more force. Skree-whack! The cord finally got free and I, like some ambitious terrorists, claimed responsibility for what had just passed. In a mellow voice I informed the class that this was me only moderately displeased, but if there would be any more running about, the little lamp just might meet its end prematurely.
By the end of a Transfiguration with the third-year class I had several mobile phones lying on the teacher’s table. Nobody seemed in a rush to reclaim them. I was a little puzzled – what would I do if the children had a conscience overload? I’m definitely not used to seeing this… On the whole, the class wrote the test pretty well, three students passed with flying colors: Alina Kuprianova – well, that was to be expected; our new student, Anya Semenova, who had only ever sat on one of my classes – the most recent revision; and finally – attention, fanfares – Vadik Kurochkin!!! The one who, during the last lesson, was in poor spirits and pounded Toporkin with a chear. How could he simultaneously have managed to file away the crucial information is a complete mystery to me. A prodigy, what can I say.
Eidan-Green gave her signature homework for Herbology and Potions – to write an advert, using information from her lessons. Usually, the results are quite fascinating. We cannot wait.
Finally our second-year class was joined by another new student with a dead-serious look on his face – Grisha Podoksik. It all happened rather unexpectedly, since until the evening of the previous day the young men did not know the results of his test for whooping cough. And the parents were so happy their child was not sick they forgot to call us.
So when I saw an unfamiliar boy in our hallway, accompanied by his mother, I had no idea who he was:
– We brought you a child. Can he stay?
– No, – I say, – he can’t.
As it was, I was completely sure there were no new students scheduled to arrive that morning. And I told everybody a thousand times, not to come and join us until after the reception of our official invitation letter. It is more than just a whim. To us, the letter is a confirmation of an existing agreement between the School and the parents. After all, they trust us with their child for half the day.
Yet when I saw the boy’s reaction – he sighed and dejectedly turned, obediently readying himself to go home – I began to suspect something was wrong here. It felt like someone promised to take him into a fairytale and then treacherously broke the promise. I had the bright idea to ask whether they had received the letter. They had! In the end, despite a problematic start, Grisha’s mom tells us he enjoyed his first day at our School.
Oleg Kuznetsov brought me a ton of photos from the 14th of February. Now, in addition to regular administration and teaching duties, I have to edit them for uploading.
In my fifth-year class today, I had another confirmation that Lev Kassil did not invent his muddle-headed Oska – we have plenty of prototypes in our day. Crimson Sails , I am told was written by Astrid Grin. I see. It is about Grey who lives on a roof. And Sherlock Holmes, you will find, once took Dr. Watson to meet his brother, Microsoft Holmes.
Professor Gutmacher and her students were solving the dilemma of Buridan’s ass. The professor was delighted with the number of solutions the children had found. The age-long efforts to help the poor animal seem puny now. One must point out that not all of the options were completely adequate (consider, for example a suggestion to call 911), yet, at least, the children seemed never to run out of ideas. We always knew that we have extraordinary talented children, undaunted by obstacles, no matter how legendary and perennial.
Today the third-year students asked me about fortune-telling. A familiar question. Sooner or later girls always ask how to do it correctly, and the boys just as invariably inquire whether it is possible at all. And then the class ends up listening to a lecture on traditional methods of prophesying and on safe handling of information. If you phrase the question more specifically – Is fortune-telling worth the trouble? – our equally definitive answer is no. When one pries into the future one needs to remember it is multi-variant. And if fortune-telling defines one alternative as inevitable, you will lose your other choices. And that would be a real pity.
Finally, we had our chance to talk about the chair fight, which is by now ancient history. Today, only the students involved we present in my class, and it was my hour of revenge. I believe the debriefing was a success, I’m especially pleased by our discussion on meanness and its far-reaching consequences.
Today we held our Grand Experiment of Ostentum School. We wanted to know how many people would come if we did not call everyone to remind them that it was time to change the clocks. Well, we have our result – only about a third of the students came to class. Only we don’t know how to interpret it – Was our experiment a success or a failure? Especially, if we take into consideration the proximity of Spring vacations… So, in the end, we agreed that we had had our Experiment and that was the most important thing.
Freshmen and sophomores were in such an uproar during our third break, that they themselves came to me to complain. I assembled the boys and, ignoring their assertions that it was not them, and they were not running, informed them that girls could get hurt during such violent games and that they, the boys, should be careful not to let that happen. In a blink of an eye, the situation changed for the better. We’ve got wonderful boys at our School.
Today, a new staff member has joined us – Professor Simplicium who will be teaching Applied Magic. He chose this name after we told him the alias should be simple and sonorous. Uh-huh. His first encounter with our rough reality was quite mild, one could say defused. Our third-year class was missing Toporkin, Kurochin, Rodzevich, and Yanshin. So, when were congratulating Professor Simplicium at the end of the day, he proudly announced that his third-year class went just as planned. Hmm. I just wonder what he will say next time.
Now, today Professor Simplicium looked rather breathless after his lesson with the third-year class. When asked, he told us things were going OK: the first half of the lesson the students had spent telling everything about themselves. Maybe, they thought they were so cunning, distracting the professor from the lesson. They failed to notice that the professor listened to them attentively and wrote down everything of interest. Now, he has a personal file on each of the smarties, and we shall see what will come of it. Then, as professor says, things were again reasonably normal: children yelled, he took off points, they stopped. “Did not they try to oppose it?” – we asked the new professor. “Well, he says, Vadik jumped from his seat a few times to erase the count, but I caught him each time and planted him back into place.” There you go, Vadik!!! Professor Simplicium is hardy the School Manager, a lady with an average build. The professor seems to be a very “applicable” mage – after he plants you on your seat once, you might not want to try it again!
In the senior class, we were learning to formulate our wishes and intentions. It turned out to be quite a challenging task. The students asked me – Where should we “address” our requests once we have successfully formulated them? Hmm… First you need to learn to complete the first stage correctly. If you succeed in phrasing exactly what it is you mean, you may consider your request submitted, but not a moment before that.
Amazing – the year is drawing to its close, but attendance never falters. Usually, by this time of the year, we have about a third of the students present at best. Both children and parents get tired of commuting. This year, it appears, we got an enduring bunch. Perfect.
What is even more amazing – the behavior of the students has radically improved towards the end of the year. We are talking about organizing another Summer Camp Session – children are most earnest, the teachers are getting nervous – the third-year class is planning to join almost down to a person.
Our last day of studies before the Tournament. We do a general revision and gingerly congratulate ourselves.
We have a practicum today. The first and second year students went to the Planetarium, where they will take a journey into the stars and visit a lab with entertaining physics experiments – the trip is part of our Applied Magic course. The older students are even in better luck: Magical Dynamics today is combined with Magical Creatures. A bus came to pick them up at our schoolyard in the morning and took them to a park for a horse-ride. If only you new, dear children, how much this pretty and dynamical excursion had cost our School! But that is, obviously, our problem, not theirs. Most importantly, the weather is fine today, the bus came on time, the horses as well, and the teachers haven’t forgotten their cameras. The photos will be posted at our blog page as a separate album.
Only the adult group was stuck indoors, studying artifacts theory and practice.
In the end, we could say that we, the professors, were most satisfied with the results of the Tournament. The competition had thrown into sharp relief the considerable bulk of knowledge that our students possess, which, on the one hand, was to be expected, while, on the other, is always a pleasant surprise. The Fiery Cup was obtained by the students of Flammenor, who speedily and efficiently passed the tests on all the subjects. Yet even with the extra points gained with the Cup, we did not qualify for the highest total. Oh well, maybe next time certain students will think twice before disrupting the lesson and getting negative points. So in the end, Cervus who was the winner of the year. We attached an honor band to Cervus’s coat of arms, played the School anthem and the ceremonial part of the day ended with handing out of diplomas, and a banquet. And then something happened that we were all waiting for: the owl appeared, and students were able to get a picture of themselves with a live owl. The bird almost made the children forget about cakes and pastry. Yet only almost: when the professors returned to the table they found mostly crumbs and leftovers.
As usual, all photos will be posted at our blog, and some will also appear on our website, so that, years later, our grown-up students could have a look at the beginnings of their magical road. Let this road be easy and joyous for them.
The eighth season of Ostentum School is now officially closed. Till next time, then.