Gone are the days when students would get tons of pages to fill during Diwali vacation. While several schools had started getting innovative with homework, the fever has gripped most of the schools in the year. The city schools have walked an extra mile, giving innovative designing projects and activities to the little ones.

Anand Niketan Satellite has got storybooks, especially designed for the Diwali break. Sonal Narang, the vice-principal of the school, said, “We encourage creative writing for the kids. We even got special books, called ‘Reading rockets’, designed for the children. The students have been asked to read stories and illustrate whatever they could make out from the text. The students of the higher grades have been asked to read books of their choice and twist the tale to create a character sketch.”

Udgam School for Children also has roped in a city-based educator to design games, matching their curriculum as per their age. 

“We want our playgroup children to spend time with their parents so these education-based games are such that the kids would need help from their parents and can play with them,” said Manan Choksi, executive director of school.

For Divine Child International School, Diwali break is the best time to be used for thematic understanding of their upcoming annual day function in December. Putting more emphasis on theatre for the function day, DCIS had asked students to watch Jungle Book and other similar shows during the vacation. Ruchi Chaudhary, Managing Trustee of Shankus Foundation at DCIS, said, “We have asked the children to read novels based on which a drama will be hosted. For some of the children, we have made it mandatory to watch Jungle Book and practice the roles of  various characters  at home during the break.”

Shreyas school this year had planted nearly 10,000 saplings using a Japanese technique, a unique method proven to work across under varied climatic conditions. Developed by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, the Miyawaki method of afforestation/ planting trees involves planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small pit.

For Diwali, the students of the senior classes have been asked to create a film on the process of the technique and make a presentation on the same. The juniors have been asked to chalk out plans for classroom renovation. Arti Trivedi, Principal of Shreyas school, said, “Students have been asked to look what kind of things they need to be changed in their classrooms and make a budget accordingly. 

Mineola Union Free School District in New York state has announced that homework and exams will be postponed on the day of the Hindu festival of Diwali. The Hindu festival of Diwali is the five-day festival of lights that celebrates the new beginning and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Diwali is mainly celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains internationally. Hinduism is the oldest and one of the largest religions that still stand to this very day.

MUFSD Superintendent Dr. Michael P. Nagler, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, wrote, “Diwali will be listed on the school calendar as a day of worship. As such no homework or exams will be given on that day. Children that wish to take the day off may do so.” Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, introduced this announcement to persuade the MUFSD to contemplate declaring Diwali an official holiday as the neighboring Syosset Central School District and East Meadow School District have done. Zed stated that it would be a positive action to take, in view of the presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools around the state, as it is important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. Zed indicated that schools should make efforts to meet the religious requirements of Hindus and show respect toward their faith by not conducting business and scheduling classes on Diwali.

Zed advised all New York state schools, public, private/independent and charter, to sincerely look into making Diwali an official holiday, recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions would make New York students balanced and enlightened citizens who have knowledge of multiple cultures and traditions.

In a statement, Zed urged “New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia to work toward adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the public school districts, and persuading the private/independent and charter schools to follow.”

Zed noted that Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on Oct. 19 in 2017.

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