Sunday, June 7, 2009


Sorry that this particular blog is late. I've had flu in the last week (no piggies involved!!) and spent a fair bit of time in my bed! I am much better now thankfully!

Anyway, to catch up, as promised here are some pictures. Last saturday, our youngest 'finnished' school! :D He is very pleased to say the least as he hasn't really enjoyed it much - although I know he will miss some of his friends. His particular class was populated with many children from the outlying reaches, some coming in to school from a distance of 50-60kms... therefore those children (or should I say young adults!) will find it harder to keep in touch and are less likely to bump into each other on the street.

It was an unusual service, different from anything in the UK, but sadly I don't think anyone past the first few rows could actually see anything that was going on - which is a real shame. I don't know why they didn't use the stage, it would have made sense..but there must have been some reason, I guess.

Naturally, there were speeches, of which we didn't catch everything that was spoken and it didnt help that we couldn't see what was going on - or that several parents were chatting around us..(probably bored) Oh well... There was also a cameraman filming it all from the only real gap where you might see... in the case you wonder who it is in the photos! Apparently it is possible to purchase a dvd of the event later - I guess for those who couldn't see.

The highlights:

1. The classes being given their leaving certificate and a red rose. ( Yes, even the boys.. got a flower. There is no way on earth that would happen in the UK.. ) I thought it was quite nice really.. but am not sure that our son agreed though! As the students names were called out, if they were a girl they had to courtsey and if a boy, they had to nod their head. Each class stood in a row to the front of the hall and it was difficult to see really. I had to hope for the best, that I caught his image on camera.. so I just held the camera up in the air above my head.. and fortunately I did.

You can just see him receiving his rose from Anna his form teacher. He is wearing a black shirt. (There are no school uniforms in Finland) Before her, was the Headteacher who handed out the certificates.

2. The teachers all singing at the end of the ceremony. They sang to the pupils...that they had done their part as teachers and now it was over to them, wishing them well in life. It was nicely done and well sung. We heard that song fully, whereas the others we didn't because the music was louder than the singers, plus I had a clear view of Anna, the 'luokan-valvoja'.

That title translates literally as class watcher but might also be similar to form tutor - a Teacher who is your reporting teacher, but doesn't necessarily teach the pupils in a class) Anna is actually the handicrafts teacher, but she has been very helpful and considerate of our lad and his particular issues and problems. Our youngest, is a strong minded, vocal individual, so I expect she is a more than a little bit glad that he has graduated! Having said that, she did tell me later that she was quite sad, as this year was her first group of students to leave.

There were stipends given ranging from 50 to 100 euros, financial gift awards donated by local groups to certain children of merit. One boy won 100 euros for good attitude towards schooling Another girl got two stipends, one from a Saami group because she was studying Saami. These stipends were kept secret until the day itself.. and those that won looked really surprised! I thought one was going to faint from shock! Fellow pupils cheered as names were called out for stipend winners.. it was really nice to see how others were genuinely pleased for their fellow classmates.

After the ceremony ended, there were photographs to be taken.

Our son with Anna

3. A card from Anna, handmade. Roughly, it translates as: Care a lot for people when young. When you have grey hair you need lots of wonderful memories. For congratulations and success in your life! Anna This was inside his folder that they gave him, accompanying his certificate.

People stood around outside the school, chatting and saying their goodbyes.

Photographs were taken with friends.

With some of his class

Then there was a small meeting of his class..(there was only 17 students in his class) we left them to it and watched from a distance. There was lots of hugging and emotional farewells going on, not knowing when next they'll meet! Sad really...

(You can just see that the Finnish flag was flying too)

And here is what it was all about.. His 'Todistus'/ Certificate of Proof.

With the official Sodankylä rubber stamp!

Here is our fine fella... The pics taken later at home.

Although there was no mention on the day, of a foreigner in their midsts, an English boy coming through the whole school, nor the success of his achievements in learning Finnish, we as his parents are rightfully PROUD of him.. and state it here clearly so no one is unsure. This is no ordinary feat. He even speaks with a Lappish lilt!

Now, he waits to find out which of his course choices are accepted, for when he goes to Ammattikoulu (Profession School) in August. Right now? Well, like most kids.. he is just enjoying the Summer holiday. We just need some Summer weather to go with it really.. although saturdays event was a gloriously sunny day, the last week has seen a fair bit of light snow and hail! Brrrr....

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Well Done!! We are proud of you!!

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