DUBAI // Some public-school pupils will have a study-free week to put them in a positive frame of mind for the academic year.
Classes will not begin until next week at Nadd Al Hamar Primary School for Basic Education, but parents dropped off children just the same.
The lobby area was decorated with white and pink balloons to celebrate the start of school.
About 500 girls, Grade 6 to Grade 9, wore pink shirts and grey striped dresses yesterday, queuing to go to class. Chatter and giggles sounded across the playground.
Teachers were bustling around the school, putting on the finishing touches with the help of an organising committee of girls who distributed sweets and biscuits.
Just after 8.45am, a teacher took the microphone and announced the beginning of the first day of school. The girls began chanting the national anthem, and swore a loyalty oath.
"I swear to be loyal to my country and its President. I swear to protect its safety and security and to obey its constitution and laws," the girls cried out in one voice.
A few girls struggled in the heat and fainted. They were brought inside to rest as the others enjoyed music and a gift draw.
"I am happy that I am back at school," said Eman Abdul Aljaleel, a Grade 8 pupil. "I get to meet my friends and will have a lot of activities."
Activities planned for the week include a student breakfast, and trips to Kidzania and the skating rink at Dubai Mall.
"This week is all about having fun and playing," said Fatima Abdul Almalek, the principal. "The idea is to welcome children back in a fun and happy environment to get them positive about the year and studying,".
Salwa Sassi, a physical education teacher, was orchestrating the morning activities of the first day.
"I am always happy to start the new year. You meet with your students and make sure that they are all fine and ready to start a new year," she said.
After the morning ceremony the children were instructed to go the sports hall to pick up their books.
About 125 girls were joining the school for the first time, entering Grade 6.
"I am happy but also a little afraid as I do not know the school and where the different facilities are," said Asmaa Atef.
The school puts a lot of emphasis on Grade 6 students to ensure that they assimilate quickly. "We make sure that they are provided tours to get know the place and spend a lot of time on getting to know each other," said Eman Ali, an English teacher.
Although the majority of the students were happy to come back, some would rather have stayed on holiday.
"I wished the holidays continued as I can play all the time and do not need to study," said Wafaa Faisal, a Grade 6 pupil.