The average school student in Kerala would celebrate at the thought of hartal on a weekday. But not this lot. For them, the end of the school year came far too quickly. This earnestness to come to school and the ability to score a perfect 1,200 mark in this year’s higher secondary examinations has very little to do with academics itself – at least for the five who belong to the Carmel Girls’ Higher Secondary School.

J.S. Ayswarya, B.R. Gowri, Parvathy Hari, G.K. Gopika and P.S. Nidhi were more likely to be found performing on a stage somewhere than pouring over textbooks and mugging theorems, throughout the important Class XII year. These five girls among the 13 in the district who achieved the 100 per cent mark were not only regulars at arts and cultural festivals, but grew up together in this school, right from lower kindergarten.

Gowri is already an accomplished dancer, winning first place for Nangiarkoothu and Kerala Nadanam events at this year’s State School Kalolsavam. She is trained in practically every dance form. Ayswarya participated in a group song event and represented the capital at the National Science Congress last year. The three others dared to learn an art form that is far more popular in Kochi and Kottayam districts—that of Chavittunadakam, even competing in the State-level competition.

All this was pulled off in the course of their final year, when you would expect them to be preparing for the board exams.

Teachers help

But with art, competitions, team events featuring so predominantly in their lives it helped ease the tremendous pressure school students are normally under.

“For that, we owe everything to our teachers. Every time we missed classes or tests, they would contact us; let us know where we stand and what we needed to do. They took special classes and even forsook their Sundays,” said Gowri.

“Our parents were not the sort to harp on about studies either,” said Parvathy, recalling how their mothers would even accompany them for the youth festivals and form a spirited gang of cheerleaders on their own.

There is not a single school activity they have missed, the girls say, be it a food festival, a special school assembly, a sports meet, an athapookalam competition or a school trip. Every single episode helped build the relationship between themselves and their teachers which only helped improve preparation for the exams and put them in a better state of mind.

Four of them are waiting for their engineering entrance results, one medical. Unlike a majority who are coerced to become an engineering graduate first before any other profession, these girls actually enjoy Mathematics and Physics, mainly because of the kind of teaching they got, they say.

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