Pataravitaya English Program School other website: http://www.pataravitaya.ac.th/
About Pataravitaya English Program School:
Pataravitaya English Program School is several kilometers outside Maesod in Tak Province, Thailand. A traveler takes the main road leading to the Friendship Bridge, the border crossing into Myanmar, and drives west past the new bus station and airport on the driver’s left. Continuing along the highway, the driver passes under a pedestrian overpass bridge and finds the school entrance on the left just after a bicycle shop. Turning left and coming into the campus, the driver passes the chapel and approaches the school buildings — shaped like a long rectangle with the English Program building in the middle. On the right just before the driver enters the campus through a ‘Welcome’ gap in the rectangular layout, he can see the school PV MiniMart shop on his right. Here, students congregate in droves during breaks and lunch time. Not only can they buy snacks, hot food, cold drinks, and ice cream but school supplies and clothing as well.
After passing the MiniMart and driving through the underpass of the school buildings, one sees the campus grounds stretching out in front towards the school main canteen and gym at the rear. Looking to the left, is the new, main Administration building which houses school offices, kindergarten classes, computer classrooms, and meeting rooms — all aligned along the long, open and green mall leading down to the canteen. The road leads straight ahead to the English Program’s building and entrance. A garden and set of swings are on the driver’s right, backed by lower elementary classrooms. The entire grounds have been well groomed for more than 40 years and the landscape is fresh and green. One feels a sense of peace descending upon entrance here — it seems a safe refuge from the noisy and dangerous highway we’ve just left behind.
The most refreshing spot on campus, of course, is the new swimming pool. Located at one corner of the campus, its cool and inviting waters tempt students to take swimming lessons. Considering that the local climate of Maesot allows for swimming at least 11 months out of the year, the local children enjoy taking a dip here. There aren’t many swimming pools in all of Maesod — they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. So, for children who need to enjoy water sports during the summer, our school swimming pool is a welcome addition to the school facilities. Children learn safety in the water and how to prevent drowning. It is a life survival skill that every child should be introduced to at an early age and practice should be regular. Happily, the students in the English Program agree with this advice and spend as much time at the swimming pool as the program offers.
Strolling down the green expanse of lawn in front of the administration building, one looks to his right and notices shelters situated along the grass. These are excellent breaks for the students to get tired of being tied to a classroom. A lesson or two a week outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight is a nice change of pace. Notice also the school flag pole. We have the morning flag-raising ceremony and school assembly around it. Students are give daily announcements of programs and tasks. The school grounds are beautiful and take a lot of maintenance from a hard-working crew of groundsmen to stay that way. Students help out by picking up trash and keeping their study areas clean. A class held outdoors in one of the shelters dotted across the campus reminds students that we are all part of nature and should respect it.
At the back of the main administration building is a secure playground for kindergarten students. They need lots of exercise outdoors to stretch their growing limbs. The jungle gym is a safe area for this kind of exercise. Shaded by growing trees, children can enoy themselves climbing, sliding and playing in the sand. Even the older children of the English Program wander over here from time to time. A stroll around campus can often become a lesson in observing nature. We’ve located a lot of insects near this gym and once discovered a baby mouse. Children who play here have come to appreciate what it means to be outdoors. Not that an air-conditioned room isn’t welcome for a warm afternoon’s nap but fresh air is needed as well. This play area is thus a welcome retreat for younger children.
Across the lawn from this gym is the school herb garden. Here, a lot of interesting plants are situated along with a large bird cage. Students can begin their nature lessons here. The garden has a couple of covered picnic tables, enough for a whole class to read, write and study there. During the monsoon, we often discover this part of the campus is housing a plethora of frogs. They hop, hide under logs, climb the walls in the bathroom, and sometimes wander into the classrooms. You’d think we were being invaded by them. However, this area of the campus is a good spot for practicing gardening and learning in science how seeds grow. We hope to conduct a lot of experiments observing nature in the inviting space within. It makes a nice outdoors science lab to complement the one just built for the English Program building.
If we continue to the back of the school and loop back around to our right, we can find ourselves walking back to the English Program building in the middle of the campus. Situated just behind the EP building is this nice shelter and pond. Students often study here and eat a lunch or snack during their break time. It is a welcome spot during the rainy season. The main point of this virtual tour of our school campus is to emphasize how at home the school buildings are within our local environment. Students feel safe and secure here. They are not cramped into a classroom all day and bored into staring out the window all day. The natural world is all around them and they often venture out of the classroom to learn about this real world. Education is not about book learning alone but also includes direct observation of the world around us.
The school campus is equipped with walkways around the buildings. This is to ensure that during the rainy season, all students are able to get from their classrooms to the canteens and other buildings without getting drenched. The walkways extend along classrooms to the swimming pool, the main administration building, the kindergarten area, the school gym and lunch room, the PV MiniMart, and to the main assembly area in front of the entrance to the English Program building. Thus, for the students arriving from home by bus, by car, or by truck — they all can still reach their classrooms without getting wet. This may not seem like much, but unless you’ve visited Thailand, you won’t be able to appreciate the southeastern moonsoon. It’s a fact of life here and occasionally makes the whole campus into a natural swimming pool.
Students enjoy sports as much as they like being outdoors. Looking down on the basketball court and across the road, one can see the small volleyball court beside the English Program building. Our teachers’ room window overlooks it. We can play volleyball here, mini-football, kickball, or dodgeball. Teacher Mirbert, who handles Health and P.E. classes, often spends time on these sports grounds. Other students from other classrooms can be found here on any afternoon of the week except during exams. If only the energy and spirit exhibited on these grounds could be applied to studies, most of the students would be ‘A’ scholars already. Teachers should always remember a healthy mind is no good without a healthy body. The school’s annual games are a testament to this.