Sarah Patches was going back to school.
She had been looking forward to this day, ever since her family had decided to stop their travelling lifestyle and settle down in Macadamia Grove. Her younger brother had never been to school before, as they had both been homeschooled on their travels. Sarah, however, remembered her first year or two of primary school quite fondly, and had been so excited when she received her letter of acceptance to
. She had read all the booklets the school had
sent – twice – and her schoolbag had been packed for weeks. Now, she was finally – finally! – walking
with her mother up the path to Bottlebrush Academy – and suddenly
she felt shy and a little panicky. She
hadn’t been to a real school in a long time, and never to high school. What if she didn’t fit in here? What if the work was too hard for her? What if she didn’t make any friends? Bottlebrush
Just then, her mother squeezed her paw, and smiled at her.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, you’ll be just fine. You know, it’s lots of other kids’ first day here, too – you won’t be the only nervous one.”
Sarah nodded, took a deep breath, and followed the stream of students toward the front doors.
As it was Sarah’s first year, she was expected to come with a parent to meet the Headmistress, Miss Treefellow, in her office.
“Well now, whooo have we here?” said Miss Treefellow, as they entered. “Ah, Miss Patches. Dooo sit down. I am Arabella Treefellow, Mrs Patches, how do you dooo?”
Sarah had been rather dreading this interview, but to her surprise she found that Miss Treefellow was actually very nice. She commanded respect, certainly, and her manner was very proper, but she spoke kindly to Sarah, and there was a sparkle in her eye that showed when she spoke about her school and its students. Clearly Miss Treefellow loved her job, and was very good at it.
“I see that you are a very well-travelled young lady, Miss Patches. I must say your work samples are quite impressive for your age. Someone has taught you well thus far,” Miss Treefellow said, inclining her head to Sarah’s mother.
“Sarah tries very hard at her school work,” said Mrs Patches.
“Lovely to hear,” said Miss Treefellow. “May I ask what subjects you like most?”
“I like languages, Miss Treefellow,” Sarah replied, “but my favourite subject is history.”
Miss Treefellow looked pleased.
“Well,” she said, “I shall look forward to seeing you later this morning in my French lesson, but for now, we shall join the other first-years for a quick tour before the welcome-to-school concert – unless you had any questions, Mrs Patches?”
Mrs Patches hadn’t, so they all went out into the corridor where the other first-years were waiting with their parents.
Mrs Treefellow was very proud of her school, and it showed as she led them all on a tour around some of the building and grounds. They saw the large sports oval, and the tennis court, and a pleasant grassed area where, according to Miss Treefellow, many children chose to eat their lunches, or spend free time.
Next she took them back inside, and they climbed the stairs all the way up to the cafeteria on the top floor.
“There is another outdoor recreation area just up those stairs, on the roof – it is quite safe, all fenced of course – that is another popular place at lunch times,” said Miss Treefellow. “The cafeteria is where you will come to buy your lunch if you have not brought it from home, and if you peek across the benches, you can also see the kitchen area. That is where the lunches are prepared, as well as being the classroom for your weekly cooking class – here at Bottlebrush Academy we believe every student should learn independence, and the cooking class is part of this.” Several of the parents looked quite impressed at this. Sarah looked at the kitchen with interest, as she knew that this was her Aunty Dorothy’s domain. It was empty at the moment though – Aunty Dorothy was also the school’s House Mother, and was probably helping the boarding students to settle in for the term.
Next, Miss Treefellow showed them a large classroom with desks and a blackboard, as well as an open-plan one that was used for music, dance and drama classes. It was also the venue for school assemblies, and was currently filling up with older students. Sarah could hear the sound of musical intruments being tuned. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to their parents. Sarah gave her mum a big hug. Miss Treefellow then invited the parents to sit at the back of the room, where chairs had been set out for them. She showed the first-years where to sit too, and then took her place at the front of the room. The students quietened down immediately.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you all – parents, teachers, and students alike – to
. I wish all our students a happy, productive
year of learning. I hope that you will
work hard, but also enjoy your time here at school. Without further ado, I would like to
introduce our talented music students, led ably by Mr McWalkies, to perform the
school song.” Bottlebrush Academy
Later, as Sarah settled in to her first class, the chihuahua girl she had been placed next to gave her a shy smile, and said “Hello, I’m Lillie. What’s your name?”
“Sarah,” said Sarah. “Is it your first day too? I don’t know many people here yet.”
“Me neither,” said Lillie. “I live at the
and the only other kids from there who come to this school are in the senior
class. I don’t know anyone in this
“Well, now you know me,” Sarah said, with a smile. “Shall we sit together at lunch?”
“That would be awesome!” Lillie replied.
The work wasn’t a problem either – nearly all the first-years were beginners in Miss Treefellow’s French class, and even among the second-years there seemed to be different levels of ability in the subject, so Sarah didn’t feel out of place at all. She began to relax a little, and then to become excited again about all there was to learn! It looked as though coming back to school was going to be just as wonderful as she had hoped!
The transformation of Caitlyn's Grand Hotel building into a high school / boarding school has been a project we always intended, but have never quite got around to. We had beds in the dormitories, and Caitlyn had her School Music set installed in the building, but we had never quite got around to fitting out the classrooms and other rooms. The "Back To School" challenge was the perfect excuse to get it done! Caitlyn had already decided which rooms of the building would be which. I built the blackboard, the cupboard under it, and the blue desks. I made special school uniforms for the music students (the other students will have different uniforms, but Bottlebrush Academy has a free dress day on the first day of term). I also made the textbooks & exercise books (which Caitlyn helped with), the paints, paintbrushes, chalk and glue sticks. Caitlyn also kindly allowed me free rein to include some of her Sylvanians in the scenes - especially Miss Arabella Treefellow!
I had a lot of fun crafting for this challenge, and setting the photos up - it has been a while since I did a biggish story with our Sylvanians! Being part of the forum is great for getting inspiration, and for connecting with a lot of other people who appreciate these little critters and the fun we have with them!