It was very difficult for me to say farewell to Tal Handak after spending the three happiest years of my teaching career within unique walls. This is the first opportunity I have had of publicly recording my deep appreciation of a most sympathetic understanding Headmaster, a delightful staff of helpful colleagues and a school of happy, lively children of whom I always have very pleasant memories. So it was with mixed feelings that I began a new phase at Verdala. After my first few days there. however. I knew I was going to be happy in my new surroundings.
Verdala School has grown to such large proportions that we are now honoured by a section of the School Magazine all to ourse1ves, so I propose to tell you a little about the School. The Junior Section is housed chiefly in two large, pleasant blocks built of Malta's yellow stone with delightful views from the upper storeys. Several of the classrooms are large, light and airy. We have the use of a large Assembly Hall fitted with a useful stage, two dressing rooms, a piano and a gramophone.
We have a very extensive playground, a large portion of which is concrete and contains two netball pitches. There is also the ever popular scrambling net and three sets of climbing bars. We are most fortunate in having the use of the football field adjoining the School. This must be the envy of every footballer at Tal Handak.
Some attempt is being made to turn the many odd corners of the playground into gardens. We have several pleasant trees which cast welcome shadows in the hot weather. All around the School are brightly painted boxes and tubs of shrubs, flowering plants, ferns and cacti which look most attractive.
The Junior children are usually graded according to age. We have four classes of first years aged 7 plus, four classes of second years aged 8 plus, three classes of third years aged 9 plus and three of fourth years aged 10 plus. The curriculum is similar to that of schools in the United Kingdom and the fourth year children take the Selection Test for entrance to Secondary School.
Every week one afternoon is devoted to what we call Activities when one week each child of the Upper School and the following week of the Lower School attends two classes of its own choice. The range of subjects offered by the Staff is wide and varied, including Drama, Puppetry. Handwork, Football; Netball, Modern Movement, National Dancing, Gardening, Stone-carving. Art, Needlework, Felt Toy Making, Knitting, Action Songs and Stamp Collecting.
The School Library contains over 400 books including a set of the Oxford Junior Encyclopedia. The number of books is steadily increasing. Each member of the Library is charged 6d. at the beginning of each term and this provides many extra books: we try to provide books to suit every taste and every stage of reading. Our most enthusiastic members are from the first year who are just finding the joys of their first library. Most of the books are well cared for and we would like to thank those children who frequently repair the torn covers. A book with an attractive and colourful jacket has a much greater appeal to a small child. Occasionally, children who are leaving the Island present us with books they find too heavy to pack. These are greatly appreciated and we hope that many more children will find similar difficulties!
At the end of this Term we expect to have a Prize Giving Ceremony when we hope to produce a pageant from history showing "Schools through the Ages" which will be the result of work of the Drama Group of Activities.
On open days many parents have remarked on the happy atmosphere to be found here and have declared that their children are always anxious to return to school after a holiday. We know that many parents welcome the opening date of school but when children do so too that surely speaks for itself.