Construction Diary - Updates from Thazhambur
10 August 2017
Class 11 complete The Mango Circle – 1 August 2017
The students of Class 11 set off for the Thazhambur campus along with their teachers Srivalli akka and Vaishnavi akka to complete the 'Mango Circle' that had been started by class 10 students and worked on further by middle school students on previous trips to the campus. Veeraraghavan Anna accompanied the group to give the much needed directions for completing the task. The group got down to the task the moment they reached the new campus.
One group began the task of bringing the sand to the place of work, another went about making sandwiches for breakfast while a third group took a walk around the campus. Each group took turns to do each of the activities. As they walked around, there was much discussion on what the buildings would be like, where the games area would be, how the junior school seemed very close to the senior school now among other suggestions of putting up hammocks and tyre swings for everyone to use once the buildings were done. It was noon when the work finished and everyone seemed quite happy with the effort they had put into making this first brick structure on the new campus.
Reinforcements for the foundation – 27 July 2017
"We have made a Mango Circle!" – 14 July 2017
A lovely, cool and breezy morning saw a group of excited twelve year olds making an early start to the day as they set off in right earnest for the Thazhambur campus. This was the Class 7 making its trip to the new campus along with their teachers, Vaishnavi akka and Divya akka. Anandhi akka, Chithra akka and Veeraraghavan Anna also accompanied this group with the intent of completing the 'project' started by the previous group of Class 10 students, to create a seating space around a tree.
Upon reaching the site, the group divided itself into three smaller groups- one that would take care of making breakfast for the group, another that would start the process of building the seating area and a third that would go around the campus for a walk. The groups alternated in their roles so that everyone got an opportunity to do everything.
The previous group of Class 10 students on an earlier trip here had dug up and loosened the soil around the mango tree that was to have an elevated seating space around it. This group of Class 7 students got busy right away, bringing the sand from a distance away on the site and mixing it with the cement as Veeraraghavan Anna gave them instructions. Another set of children laid and arranged the bricks neatly alongside the periphery of the tree encircling it. There was much laughter as each one helped the other, and slowly the structure started to take shape. They understood the logic of arranging the bricks in an interlocking fashion, of using tools such as the manvetti to loosen and mix the cement, and the karandi to pat the cement down on the bricks and finally of using water as a binder to keep the cement together in the process of construction.
It was a hungry lot that sat down to have the jam and cucumber sandwiches that had been prepared by the students themselves. The groups took turns to do each of these activities. Questions were asked about the structures that were coming up on the site and Anandhi akka answered these. A group of students sang songs while taking a break from their work. Another group went for one more walk around the campus, looking at the trees and other insects.
As they completed their task, one of the students said, "Hey, we have made a Mango Circle, just like the Neem Circle in school." It was a tired but happy group that left the Thazhambur campus at the end of this trip.
Foundation pits and hard hats – 12 July 2017
Class 10 students build a thinai – 7 July 2017
Classes 8 and 9 paint the walls – June 2017
After a spell of fearfully hot weather the week before, the morning of June 13th, Tuesday, dawned with a profusion of cottony clouds as if in kindly anticipation of the flurry of activity on the school's new campus in Thazhambur later that morning. The students of Classes 8 and 9 along with the art students of Class 11 were scheduled to visit Thazhambur to paint the walls encircling the school campus. Accompanying them were 5 teachers - Asha Akka and Ashwin Anna, class teachers for Classes 8 and 9, Uma Akka, Tarit Anna and Pradeesh Anna, the Art teachers and 2 non-teaching staff members - Veeraraghavan Anna from Maintenance to help with the mixing of paints and Ravi Anna from the school office.
The caravan of 4 buses and the school jeep wound its way to Thazhambur with excited chatter amongst the students, many of whom hadn't visited the new campus yet. As the buses drove into Thazhambur, the children looked out with curious eyes at their school's future neighbourhood. Upon reaching the campus, as Veeraraghavan Anna and Tarit Anna readied the paints, the children broke off into small groups, walking around the school's grounds, feeling the ground beneath their feet, observing the many trees, before being drawn as if by an invisible magnetic force to a rectangular patch of land on the eastern end of the campus, on which, they promptly and firmly concluded, would be the futsal ground and basketball court.
Painting began in right earnest soon after. Working in small groups of 8, each on a 10-foot section of the wall, the children wielded their brushes with gusto and before long the bare walls of the school were covered in flaming orange suns, spindly Warli motifs, inter-locked geometrical shapes and abstract artwork galore. Fueled by the refreshing butter-milk, juicy apples and the cucumber sandwiches thoughtfully packed by the kitchen staff, the children would not stop until their section of the wall was covered over fully in a tapestry of colour and had to be urged to pack up and get ready to leave as noon approached. With their mission accomplished, as the groups boarded the buses to begin the drive back to Damodar Gardens, one thing was certain, the children had in more ways than one, left their imprint on the school campus.
Ground breaking ceremony – April 2017
A simple small ground breaking ceremony was held at Thazhambur on April 30th, 2017 before the commencement of construction. Members of staff and KFI, a few parents and students, both current and former, were part the ceremony. It was significant to have members of the family of Smt Padma Santhanam, who had started the school and supported it subsequently. Also present were a few government local body members. The brief ceremony, which included laying a few bricks and songs and chants, was followed by breakfast. A feeling of good will and optimism enveloped the sunny morning.
Junior School trip – March 2017
Children from each of the MAG classes of Junior School visited the Thazhambur site around the end of March 2017. It was a day trip and children spent most of the morning painting the compound walls, under the guidance of Tarit Anna and Pradeesh Anna. Wall paint was mixed in attractive colours for the children to paint. The bare whitewashed walls looked inviting and they were soon covered with bold and bright splashes of paint showing pictures of trees, birds, deep blue skies and the ocean. After a hearty lunch under the shade of the mango trees, we got back to school just before snack time.