That Saturday evening, everything went right for Riad Mahmood.
A blazing hot sun gave way to dark clouds that threatened to open out as thundershowers and spoil the party. As if reprimanded they soon mellowed down to slight rain, enhancing the surrounding greenery to delight the senses.
The sun was no longer a burning enemy; in fact it emitted a sort of divine radiance resulting in a bright and colorful rainbow appearing in the sky as a prophetic sign that all would be well, for now, and for the future.
And in the midst of all this was Riad's mother, a beaming Samina Mahmood, looking as graceful as ever. For her especially, it was a proud moment. She had kept that dream alive that she and her late husband once shared. Little by little, and with persistence and determination at every step and with Riad at the helm, they fulfilled that dream.
Guests of Honor
Shri S. Rajendra Babu, Retd. Chief Justice of India
Bangalore born, Sri Rajendra Babu was former permanent Judge of the Karnataka High Court and was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of India in 1997. He served as the Chief Justice of India until his retirement in 2004.
Now, who doesn't know Rahul Dravid. A close friend of Riad Mahmood and the family, Rahul Dravid received thunderous applause when he was called upon to speak. And he spoke as he always does, like the gentleman that he truly is.
From a garage start-up to an educational institution dedicated to education, the Head Start Educational Academy campus stands tall and firm, in the midst of a protected environment with notable natural features of forestlands and farm fields, some 15 kilometers away from Koramangala.
Spread across 5 plus acres, the attractive campus consists of 3 blocks. Enter the sprawling campus and the Admin Block greets the visitor. The full flow of natural light sets the tone for your visit as you pass through courtyard after courtyard filled with greenery, flowers, ferns and stone pathways.
The ambience blends perfectly with the natural setting, combining excellence and attention to detail. It's almost as though one is relaxing in a lush green resort. At the rear of the Admin Block are located the classrooms of the Primary Block and they are oh, so spacious.
Interestingly, the door design makes use of the school's house colors of yellow and blue, and that instills ingenuity and originality.
Moving on to the Middle and High School Block, you cannot miss the small, oval-shaped amphitheatre with 3 tier stone seating, the sky for a roof, rising from the central open arena almost transporting you to the Coliseums of ancient Rome.
Head Start's emphasis on imparting teaching and knowledge of the highest standards is reflected in the Science Lab, in this block. Everything is in place in each of these exclusive labs for Chemistry, Physics and Biology.
Below the amphitheatre is the large dining hall with a kitchen attached. Students, teachers, staff are served vegetarian food freshly prepared each day. No short-cuts in this area considering that an experienced Catering Manager oversees the preparation process and nutritional needs of everyone.
If the first half is dedicated to academics, the second half concentrates on the extra-curricular and the sprawling playgrounds are testimony to the fact. Children can play what they wish - Basketball, Football, Athletics, and in due course Cricket too once the cricket pitch is ready for play. If all goes according to plan, then a proper Tennis Court will be up and ready soon.
Well, why not; they have covered so much ground already.
For those inclined towards the arts, opportunities are available for students to learn music, play the tabla or the keyboard, guitar, drums or whatever they desire. Soon, a separate block will come up that will house all these and will also include painting, sculpture, modeling, etc.
A Complete Package
The 320-odd children - a good mix of boys and girls - who are already at the new campus have automatically ‘graduated' from the Pre-primary facility in Koramangala. Effectively, Standards 1 to 7 are now fully functional. Each year approximately 50-60 children will get admitted into Std 1 and almost all of them will be from the Koramangala's 4th Block Pre-Primary School.
They believe in organic growth, to bring about organic change through positive education and that means one at a time. In other words what will happen is that each year a new class will be added. So, next year when Standard 1 admits a new batch, the Standard 7 batch would move into Standard 8, and so on.
Transportation, food, snacks (served around 3.15 pm at the end of each day), books, uniforms are all part of one package.
Riad Mahmood, the Managing Trustee spells out his philosophy by saying, "If, by learning to accept one meal, you'll learn to accept a lot of things in life."
Same food for all is in a way inculcating the acceptance of a life of equality. Besides, it's a boon for parents. Since school starts early (8.15 AM - 3.30 PM), it saves them the hassles of cooking and packing lunch for their child, lunch boxes getting lost and so on. It's worth settling for that hot and nutritious meal at school.
Transportation costs are included in the fee structure. The idea is to enable children to travel together, get to know each other better and cultivate that feeling of togetherness.
As Riad says, "Education begins on a bus."
So parents, here is an educational institution showing concern for the environment by providing this facility. Too many cars pollute the air; besides, you get to keep your fuel bill down.
To enable consistency, all uniforms are provided by the school, Yellow T-shirts and Blue tracks. The house color branding continues.
It's Time for School
Monday to Friday, yellow school buses with Head Start Educational Academy painted on the sides, will head for the new campus picking up children from various parts of Bangalore.
As they get out of city limits and enter the environment protected area, the change will be felt. The noise levels reduced, the hustle and bustle of the city left behind, the surrounding landscape transforming from green to lush green, and when the children get off the bus, their minds will be fresh as the morning dew, there will be a spring in their step, a sparkle in their eyes, their enthusiasm infused with positive feelings, and the horizons will broaden.
Like someone said, "The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts, but of values."
Head Start is doing just that.
The Stage was big. The colorful lights added to the greenery around. The setting was perfect. The enthralled audience sat back to watch some highly skilled performances by the school children and the school band, leaving them speechless.
What a Night!
Head Start Educational Academy
Survey No. 98/1, Kommasandra,
Bangalore - 562125.