The new school year is underway in Uganda after a delay due to the national presidential elections. Both teachers and students are now working twice as hard to make up for time lost.
The Ugandan Ministry of Tourism has organized a competition for grade schools. I am pleased to announce that out of 400 schools Circle of Peace School was one of 20 selected to participate. The goal is to promote tourism in Uganda. The winner will be given a trip to Murchison Falls National Park. Our students have written a poem and are busy rehearsing it for the competition that will take place the first week in April. Additionally, we have been selected to participate in a mega competition that Dark Media Entertainment has organized for schools. The prize is a week-long trip to Kenya. This is taking place in June.
We thank God Almighty for his grace throughout 2015. Gods guidance, protection and provisions served us for the entire academic year. Were truly grateful to all of the COPS teachers and staff for their hard work. Heartfelt gratitude goes to COPI and our donors from the United States, who have supported us tirelessly.
The 2015 academic year was very successful, and we thank the entire teaching staff that worked hard to educate our students from day one. At the beginning of the school year, most of the students needed extra time, but they gradually improved, and by the end of the year, caught up to where they need to be.
Weekly tests and Saturday lessons contributed to the good performance of the students, especially the Upper Primary students. We have also held inter-class and inter-gender debates that improved students spoken English and increased vocabulary. It has also strengthened students confidence in public speaking. Credit goes to the Debate Master Eva Muhima.
This coming year, we will have a Primary Seven class that will sit for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). We want all of our students to pass with high marks. This will take work and preparation, but the students and teachers are ready to work hard.
The school has an official athletics teams that practice after school. They participated in the Makindye Division primary athletics at the community playground. Our students worked very hard at athletics. This was their first time to participate. We hope, in 2016, we will be able to go to the district level. Credit goes to the Sports Teacher Edward Bugere. In March, we received soccer jerseys and other equipment from Prime Time Early Learning Center in Farmingdale, NY.
We were blessed to have our nursery students participate in the 2015 Pre-Primary games in March. This was held at the Pearl of Africa Primary School.
We have also added another activity: scouting. All students who are interested in joining this activity can now be trained to become scouts
The school had a Field Trip on the 12th of June, and the following places were visited: Entebbe International Airport, Entebbe Metrological Centre, Nakiwogu Landing Site, and the Wildlife Centre (zoo).
Our pen-pal program with St. Andrews School in Richmond, VA continues to grow and strengthen. Our students are learning so much about the world through letter writing, while at the same time building international friendships. Elizabeth Jordan, who has been of great assistance, introduced Circle of Peace School to Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts in Richmond, VA. We began a new friendship with this school through Skype.
A set of traditional musical instruments was purchased in preparation for our Graduation.
The school has seen various improvements in 2015, many of which COPI made possible. At the beginning of the school year we had an inspection conducted by the Makindye Division School Committee. The school passed the inspection with flying colors.
2015 began with the creation of a new office for the secretary, which we now call the Welcome Center. This makes a beautiful first impression on prospective students and parents. Here is where our visitors, parents and students feel welcomed and valued while waiting for services. The school also bought a trophy shelf and a notice board for the office.
School Director Charles Bbaale installed a tank that filters rainwater to make it potable. In April, he donated his house to be used as a classroom for the Baby Class. New railings, doors and windows were installed. Charles also built metal stands for students to hang their book bags and lunch bags on. These improvements were made possible with funds from the chicken farm.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to our students who lost family members this past year: Ayebale Peace, Bulega Tendo, Kijjambu Ryan, and Kitiibwa Angel lost their mothers; Kitumba Denis and Nganda Abdul lost their grandmothers; Nakazibwo Martha, Kiyemba Musafaru and Semuwemba Jeremiah lost their father and uncle, respectively. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
The school ended the 2015 academic year with a Nursery School Graduation and End of Year party. Preparations started at the beginning of Term Three. The whole event was amazingly successful, due to the hard work of the administration and staff.
A big challenge this year was paying the teachers salaries because some parents do not pay school fees for their children. (This does not include those children who are sponsored by the school). Some students have studied for free yet our teachers must be paid.
Also, a number of children have been sick and this has hindered their performance.
We lack technology for our students. They havent had the opportunity to learn how to use computers. We are praying and hoping that in 2016 we can get a few used laptops for our teachers and students.
The school also urgently needs new classrooms. The number of children grows every term, but the school structures are small, so that the children end up being squeezed into the classrooms. Were greatly in need of new and larger classrooms.
We look forward to the New Year and hope for greater success. God bless.
On September 7, we started our third term which runs until mid-December. We hired two new teachers: Issa Kizza, who is an Assistant in the nursery section; and Gorret Nabukeera, who is teaching Primary Six with Ronald Kiwanuka. Her main subjects are reading, English and Luganda. Parents Meeting: A parents meeting was held on September 11. Students had a half day of school to give teachers enough time to prepare for the meeting. We had a good turnout of parents. Were trying to involve parents as much as possible.
Desks: Director Charles Mukasa completed the construction of desks for the nursery section during the school break thanks to funds provided by COPI, which allowed for the purchase of materials.
Monthly Birthday Parties: We celebrated ten birthdays in September. We enjoy celebrating student and faculty birthdays each month! (There were no birthdays in October.)
Harvest Season: During the break, all of the Bbaale boys and Mama Amina went to the farm to harvest corn. Abraham drove the truck, and Charles the van. Their hard work yielded three tons a total of 46 bags of corn, ready to process for posho. Mama Amina has hired two men who will work with Solomon to clear the land and get it ready for seeding before the rainy season starts.
Maize Mill: Charles and Abraham are looking at purchasing motors for the maize mill thanks to funds made available by COPI. We hope this business can be up and running in the near future. It will provide food for the children, feed for the chicken farm, and revenue for the school.
Chicken Farm: Abraham is preparing his chickens to sell during the Christmas holiday when the best profits can be made. He has placed an order for new baby chicks, which will be available the first week of January 2016. The chicken farm is very important to the school it provides one egg to every student each week, and is also a source of funds when chickens or eggs are sold in the market.
School Supplies: The inventory of school supplies received from the COPI Board members visit in 2014 has dwindled&and so, we are delighted that board member Liz Jordan and her family were able to bring two suitcases of much-needed supplies during their visit to COPS in October.
Prior to the current school year, CoPS had an enrollment of 189 students. Now, it has grown to 300. The school was forced to put students on a waiting list due to limited space. New facilities are desperately needed. In April, Charles Bbaale, Director of Circle of Peace School, decided to donate his house to the school to be used as a classroom. If the school is growing, I am not going to stand in the way or stop the schools development said Charles. If Mama Amina can give her land to the school, I am willing to give up this house. Its the least I can do and I am truly honored to serve our students. I believe someday I will get a better house.
Charles and his brothers began tearing down walls to expand the house into one large classroom. The small windows were removed, and in their place two large windows were installed to allow for better lighting and air circulation. Also, a rail was installed around the balcony to make it safe. The building is now being used as a classroom for kindergarten and pre-school students.
Charles also recently installed a "smart tank." This is a tank that filters drinking water. Once the tank is fully installed, it will no longer be necessary to boil water for drinking. The students are very excited about getting the smart tank. Charles said, We need at least three smart tanks to serve our students better, but we could only afford to pay for one. Our students will just line up and wait. Its about 25 minutes to filter the water.
For the second year in a row, the Ugandan Ministry of Education required that students participate in vocational tours. On June 19, 2015, six schools in the Makindye division visited three places. First stop was the Entebbe International Airport. For many of the students, this was their first visit to an airport, and their first opportunity to see an airplane close up. Students toured the airport in the civil aviation bus, and later ate breakfast inside the airport. The upper class students went to the metrological center to study the weather instruments. The whole school then headed to Nakiwogo landing, and, lastly, to the Entebbe Zoo.
Everyone who met the tour group was impressed by the schools well-behaved students who asked plenty of great questions. For the students, the tours engender visions of the future that keep them dreaming. Student Evan Bukenya said, This is the best day in my life. The food was very delicious. I want to go back again. Judith Kwagala said, I am going to study very hard so that I can become an airhostess. And Olivia Mbejjo said she would someday like to become a cashier at the airport. For the teachers and staff, the youthful dreams are better than money. Making the world a friendlier place for children is the reward that encourages them. MaryLove Bbaale stated, It gives us so much hope to see them begin to see their futures in a better way.
At the beginning of the school year (February) we had a school inspection conducted by the Makindye Division School Committee. Their visit was a follow up from a previous inspection. In May 2014, they required the school to improve the students bathroom, office and classroom space, dining shed and play area. When the inspectors came this time they were very impressed by the improvements.
They found that both students and the school compound were very neat; we score 100%. Bathroom facilities scored 100% because we have separated the nursery bathroom from the primary bathroom, separated boys from girls, and provided the teachers with their own restroom. Teachers received 100%. The committee was very pleased with how teachers were responding to and treating students. They found that teachers paid attention to students and were very professional, handling each students with care and love.
First Impressions, makes visitors feel valued. Our receptionist and staff gave the visitors a warm welcome. The committee liked our playground design. All our play equipment is placed in the sand, which prevents students when they fall from getting hurt.
The one problem the committee noted was space. They strongly advised that we start thinking of building new classrooms soon since we have the land available. Expanding the school will bring in students whose parents can afford to pay. Overall the committee thanked us for the improvements we had made. Principal and Headmistress MaryLove Bbaale was invited to join the inspection committee and visit other schools. Assisting the committee to advise other schools on how to improve and make their schools better is an honor.
Some exciting things have been happening at the Circle of Peace School lately!
For one, we are now a certified non-profit with 501(c)(3) status known as Circle of Peace International!
We've also gotten in our Primary Leaving Examination scores for 2010. Eleven "Primary Seven" students scored in the 1st (top) level and three schored in the 2nd level out of fifteen total students.
In August, David Davenport, a student from the University of Richmond, will use his David Projects for Peace Foundation $10,000 grant to build us a poultry farm that will make the school more self-sustainable financially. The farm will raise egg-laying hens. The profits obtained from selling those eggs will help support the school and its educational efforts.
The beginnings of the poultry-farm
AHEAD Energy, a non-profit which has partnered with both Givology and the Circle of Peace School, has been busy helping us with a variety of projects.
In April 2009, AHEAD installed ten 120W solar panels, which are producing electricity to light the classrooms, the two dormitories, and the school yard; as well as running some small appliances. In April 2010, an additional seven solar panels were added that provide electricity for the school office and the main house.
In June 2010 AHEAD paid to have a water harvesting system installed so that rain-water can be used not only in the latrines, but for cleaning, laundry, and bathing. In February 2011 a second system was installed to provide water to the showers that staff and boarding school students use. Most recently, AHEAD provided an electric pump to transfer water from holding tanks on the ground to elevated tanks.
Remember to save the date for our Annual Banquet & Fundraiser! It will be held at the Heritage Country Club on Saturday, November 12th with more details to come!