Today marked the last day of school, which is known in Moldova as Ultimul Sunet or Last Bell. Since my village’s school only goes up to 9th grade, this was also a bit of a farewell and best wishes to our 9th grade students.
Last Bell is a ceremony, generally held outside on the school’s courtyard, and is celebrated at every school in the country. Students, teachers, and families all attend. At my school, the graduates (9th graders) entered once everyone else was in place and wore sashes to signify the importance of the day. Then, certificates were handed out to the students who had significant achievements throughout the school year in academics, sports, and extracurriculars. After, some poems were presented by the 4th graders and 9th graders and the 9th graders thanked all of the teachers for their work that year (I got a special shout-out!) and handed out flowers to the teachers. I came home with a pile of flowers so big I had to use two large vases to contain them.
The 9th grade students performed a beautiful dance, along with their two homeroom teachers. They also danced the hora (Moldova’s traditional dance).
After, the ceremony ended with a 9th grade boy and 1st grade girl walking around the perimeter while the girl rang a large metal bell, and students were released into their homeroom classrooms for one last class period.
My partner teacher had to leave to go to the local kindergarten for a celebration there, so I got to be her homeroom class’s diriginte (homeroom teacher) for an hour. This last class period consists primarily of the teacher reading off the final semester and year grades for each subject for each student, as students do not receive report cards here. I’m glad I know my numbers pretty well! Finally, we were all free to go and the school year was officially over.
While I am ready for summer and vacation, it’s a little surreal to know that my first year of teaching in Moldova has come to an end. I will miss my 9th grade students, who I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the course of the year. It was a year full of many challenges and also many rewards. My students, partners, and fellow teachers welcomed me with open arms and I am so grateful to them for such an amazing first year here in Moldova.