Last week I was invited to one of the local lyceums for a tradition Moldovans refer to as “last bell.” Basically, on the last day of the school year, the schools hold a big ceremony with all the students and teachers. So one of the English teachers I worked with to hold a writing competition invited my site mate and me to attend. And I’m so glad she did.
The ceremony began at about 8:30 a.m. Students from grades 6 to 11 lined up, dressed in their best, in a half circle outside the front of the school. Next, there was a procession of all of the graduating 12th grade students, who came out of the front entrance of the school carrying balloons, walked around the half circle of students, and lined up on the stairs facing their younger peers.
Administrators spoke, the Vice President of the District spoke, student leaders spoke, and they handed out certificates and diplomas to students and teachers of all grades and subjects. They even handed out the certificates we had printed for the students who won the national creative writing contest we held through Peace Corps (there were five from this school).
Photographers were there taking pictures throughout the ceremony.
At the end, two of the older students picked up two young children and carried them around on their shoulders as the two young ones rang the official “last bell.” And then the senior class let their balloons go with a loud cheer.
For me, it was a great experience for a couple of different reasons. Not only did I get to enjoy observing the Moldovan last bell tradition, but it was a success in that I felt like a part of the community. Many of our volunteers here work in schools teaching English or health lessons, but my site mate and I do not, so our interaction with the schools here is more limited. So I just felt honored that they thought to invite us to come, and that, even though we don’t work in the schools as teachers, we can still work together and share successes as a community.
I’ve included some pictures and videos below, I hope you enjoy as well!