The school that refused to be beaten by the ban

A reminder of the lockout that students and parents will pursue in the years to come is the hell of homeschooling.

For most teenagers in recent weeks, this has meant being barricaded inside, staring at screens, or lounging in bed without giving up exercise, while longing for their friends and even their teachers.

But not every student has had such bleak experiences. Welcome to the school that the pandemic has forgotten.

On the eve of the closure, Mark Waldron, principal of the independent Ryde School on the Isle of Wight, had a moment with a light bulb.

Why send all the kids home to isolate themselves when they could be locked up as a huge family? It was a life-changing moment for everyone involved. Of the 56 boarding students who paid around £ 10,000 a semester, 14 boys and six girls, ages 11-18, took the opportunity to stay in school and were supervised by three courageous teachers, one of whom was selflessly their own children left at home to isolate with her young protégés.

Of the 56 boarding students who paid around £ 10,000 a semester, 14 boys and six girls, ages 11-18, took the opportunity to stay at the Ryde School on the Isle of Wight

For this unique band, the 114 days they spent together was a wonderful combination of Enid Blyton's Malory Towers, the Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons. They enjoyed the kind of innocent, old-fashioned existence that we can only dream of.

Cell phones and computers were quickly forgotten. They made campfires, paddled in the sea (the school grounds reach the beach), played card games, made treasure hunts and still had full online tuition. And when the school chefs and cleaners were sent home, they got stuck in the housework: meals were cooked, flowers watered, tables laid, and dogs left.

In fact, the experience was so idyllic that some students who had gone home decided to return when the lock went down after hearing how much fun their schoolmates were having. Headmaster Mark says: “When the country was closed, I wondered what in the world was going to do. Then I remembered how the school was open during World War II by evacuating students and staff to the countryside.

Then the children were locked up for five years. However, when they return to reunification, they always tell me that they were halcyon days and lived as one big family. Suddenly I realized that we can create the same magical experience. "

The Bembridge Boarding House, one of the school's three boarding schools, provided the perfect setting. It is located in 100 hectares that extend to a sandy bay.

The Bembridge Boarding House, one of the school's three boarding schools, provided the children with the perfect environment. It is located in 100 hectares that extend to a sandy bay (see picture above).

The Bembridge Boarding House, one of the school's three boarding schools, provided the children with the perfect environment. It is located in 100 hectares that extend to a sandy bay (see picture above).

The house parents Carlos Carubia (41) and Mrs. Maria (43) agreed to stay with the landlady Nicola Wilson (52) and to run the house. It was an easy decision for the Carubias, far from their home in Argentina. For Nicola, this meant leaving her own children between the ages of 18 and 22 on the mainland.

"I knew I would miss my own family terribly," she says. "But that's my job and I knew I was needed. In fact, I've never laughed so much and it was magical to see the kids pull themselves together and bloom. Mark says, "I can see how this has changed them. You have learned to be friendlier, more responsible and more appreciative. You have learned to have fun. "

As these gorgeous pictures show, Ryde's 114-day school closure was truly the funniest of all …

Went Gang Goolie Gollie Gollie Watcha!

On mild evenings, the children helped with the campfire and roasted marshmallows over the flames. "It was magical," recalls 17-year-old Francis, who chose not to return to Hong Kong. “There was nobody there for miles so that we could play music and tell stories. The light went out at 10 p.m. and we had to be drawn in to go to bed. "

Sunday brunch and hugs for the dogs

Sunday morning started with a leisurely brunch as the children stacked up in the kitchen to prepare their own breakfast. While some played croquet, rugby or soccer, others preferred to chat. The dogs of mother Nicola, Stevie and Frankie, were suddenly in the center of a revered family. "They have never been cuddled so much or enjoyed so many walks," laughs Nicola.

Who will win the puzzle challenge?

Like the students who were studying in their own four walls, the Bembridge boarding students had a full schedule of virtual lessons every day until 3 p.m. Once they were done, 15-year-old Catharina led the indictment into the common room to work on a puzzle. To the envy of her three siblings at home in Germany, Catharina decided to stay at school.

"You can't believe the fun I was having," she says.

The children were able to solve 14 1,000-piece puzzles. "You were obsessed. We had to order more and more, ”laughs Carlos.

"It was great to have something they could all do together – a real bond experience."

Eat inspiration from around the world

As with all families, lockdown meals have become a highlight. But with 23 people who needed to be fed, Maria and Nicola ran out of ideas. "We were looking for reasons to celebrate," says Nicola. “We jumped on the idea of ​​the Mexican Independence Day (picture). We also had World Chocolate Day and Children's Favorite – International Burger Day. Children usually lock their food, but meal times were hours while children chatted. "

Fortunately, a well-established supply line meant that food – and toilet rolls – never ran out. Nevertheless, the pension received 1,320 eggs, 81 kg of jasmine rice and 696 ice cream.

If you go into the forest today …

With 100 hectares of beautiful gardens and forests to explore, the children roamed freely. They could scurry down to the beach in small groups, where they explored and paddled.

“We usually share the beach with vacation homes, but of course they were deserted. So we had the beach to ourselves, ”Maria recalls. "It was heavenly."

Lose cards? You take out the trash!

In the age of computers, card games look like an old story. But when the children found a UN card package, a whole new world opened up. It quickly became a nighttime ritual in which everyone participated.

"We had a scoreboard in the kitchen," says Seth (17), who joins the Falkland Islands with his sisters Tilda (14) and Harriet (12). Whoever got the lowest score had to take out the trash that night. It was very competitive. "

Glue over cheeks and balloons

The children connected when baking. It was a happy distraction for Karol, whose parents live in Milan – at the center of the outbreak of the Italian coronavirus. "We sensed when people needed help," she says. "When one of the boys lost a close relative, everyone gathered and pulled him away to play frisbee and card games."

When Nicola celebrated her birthday in May, she was bombarded with cakes and balloons. "We knew that she would miss her family," says Karol.

Everyone had to get used to it

Since no outsiders were admitted, the pension had to be self-sufficient, so that everyone was occupied with jobs, from taking the beds off to washing up and watering the garden. It was a blessing for the employees who were available around the clock. "Two boys injured their ankles while playing a combination of rugby basketball they invented, but we managed to treat them on site," said Carlos.

Cake on 101 days

It was great excitement when German teacher Anja Lengersdorf brought a festive cake to the pension on the occasion of the 101-day lock-up period. "Nobody could go into the house – not even me," says headmaster Mark, "but we wanted the children to know that they would not be forgotten." Another treat was Easter Sunday, when Mark came onto the premises to a Easter egg to lay hunt.

Adventure on the beach

All normal water sports like sailing and kayaking may have been banned for safety reasons with so little adult supervision. Instead, the kids enjoyed the simple delights of the coast like hunting for shells and splashing in the water.

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