Maria Chleo Julienne Magsambol cried on her first day at Pisco Private School yesterday.Dressed in her school uniform, the five-year-old pupil proudly held her new violet Hannah Montana schoolbag and lunch box and sat with her 26 classmates on colourful chairs.
But the big day also brought tears.
Her father, Samuel, 35, said Chleo was overwhelmed with her first day at school. She cried in the classroom while the children waited for their teacher, Ava Yana, to arrive.
"She was actually excited to go to school for the first time," Mr Magsambol said, while waving at his daughter from outside the classroom door. "She knows how to count from one to 20, can write from A to Z and colour."Her classmate Johanson Cabello, five and a half years old, had also cried and fussed. The teacher allowed him to leave the classroom for a few minutes. "He's looking for his mummy," said the nanny Lourna Saludes."They're very good children and a lot better than last year," said Ms Yana, who has been teaching Kindergarten Year 1 pupils since Pisco opened in Abu Dhabi in 1995. "Most were crying last year."
Yesterday, she left the classroom door open, allowing parents to check on their children from outside."For the first week, parents are allowed inside the campus and stay outside the door so their children can see them," she said. "We understand that this is the children's first exposure to the outside world and they'll cling to their parents."
She expects the crying to stop within two or three days as the children get used to not having their parents around; in the meantime, she will keep them busy.
"I've made friends," declared Christine Jaycel Madlambayan, four.
"I'm glad that she's in a Filipino school," said the girl's father, Jaydee, 31. "We know that she'll keep our traits, culture and traditions even though we're far away from our country."
Ms Yana said the first day of school was more a "getting to know you" and "settling in" stage.
Today there will be storytelling and colouring exercises.
The school's 529 pupils - both those attending school for the first time and those returning from previous years - were welcomed yesterday by Pisco's principal, Rosemarie Natividad. "It's tiresome but enjoyable at the same time," she said.