The senior school is housed in a separate complex of buildings. The facilities include a separate, well-stocked library, various specific subject rooms, an audio-visual room, separate laboratories for Physics, Chemistry and Biology and a computer room. An open visitor's lounge, a work space for teachers and a large staff-room are also part of the main senior school building.
LEARNING ATMOPSHERE AND CURRICULUM UPTO CLASS 10
Moving into class 9 in the senior school entails a longer working day, and more organized study time for students, who, at this stage, are expected to become more independent in their learning; however, a close and supportive relationship continues to exist between students and teachers. To ensure continuity between teachers and students, teachers take students up from class 8 through to class 9 in many subjects.
In the senior school the educational programme shifts in its emphasis towards preparation of students in the syllabus for the ICSE (at the end of class 10) examinations. Students take an internally administered cumulative exam for the first time at the end of class 9.
The academic curriculum is balanced by arts and crafts, dramatics, sports and participation in a variety of clubs ranging from journalism, to astronomy and chess. Participation in other work of the centre such as afforestation, rural health, and rural education is also encouraged and organized. Students are also encouraged to research topics of their interest and present these at morning assemblies. Assemblies, student-council meetings and specially convened staff-student meetings are forums where discussion and debate over issues of concern in the school community or in the world are encouraged. Culture classes - intended to extend intellectual and emotional horizons of the students – remain an integral part of the timetable, right until class 12.
THE 'PLUS TWO' PROGRAMME
The last two years at Rishi Valley School - classes 11 and 12 - form a separate programme for which admissions are open and students of class 10 need to apply anew as candidates. Each student in the 'plus two' course selects four subjects in addition to English. These elective subjects are studied intensively for two years. The subject combinations are broadly divided between Science, Humanities and Business Studies. Subjects offered are Mathematics Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science; English Literature, History, Geography, Economics, Commerce, Accountancy, Environmental Studies, Music in the Carnatic style, Fine Arts, Hindi and Telugu Literature.
A General Studies Programme broadly focusing on environmental crisis, and its impact on human societies on food security and issues of poverty have been specially designed for this stage in students’ education.
Students in the 'plus two' programme are seen as 'young adults' and greater responsibility is expected of them in terms of understanding and sustaining the ethos of the school. They are encouraged to take on responsibilities, help in organization of events and participate constructively in discussions of school policies related to student life.
EVALUATION IN THE SENIOR SCHOOL
Evaluation for all students in the senior school is based on a series of written assignments and tests, apart from project work and classroom observations. The reports contain comments and suggestions on formatted report forms, along with a qualitative achievement grade. The principal's and house-parent's reports also give an overall profile of the student's growth, interests and involvements in life at school.
There are around 20 small hostels - which we prefer to call houses - each of which accommodates a number ranging anywhere between 12 to 22 students. Boys and girls belonging to classes 4 live together with older girls of classes 6 and 7 in the same house. Older boys and girls live in separate houses, usually with a mixed-age of two classes living side by side.
Members of the teaching staff, who live in staff quarters within a house, act as house-parents. Life in the houses is meant to develop the values of co-operation, self-restraint, and sharing. The interaction between teachers and students outside the classroom is considered a very important part of living and learning at Rishi Valley. The school does not have a system of house or class prefects; no student has authority over another.
In this ambience, students generally relate to each other in a friendly and accepting manner, with younger ones not afraid of the older ones. We like to think of the school community in terms of a large, extended family.
OTHER FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS
The school's location in a serene and beautiful valley creates a natural, pollution-free environment for children to grow up in.
During their stay here students are encouraged to explore the surroundings through walks and hikes in the valley and its surroundings.
An evening gathering of the whole school, described as astachal, is held whenever the weather (and the mosquito population!) permits. Students sitting together and observing the evening sky changing colours have an opportunity to examine their thoughts in quiet reflection and come upon a quality of silence.
Bird-watching is a regular activity for interested students. The school houses an institute for bird studies and natural history that runs a correspondence course that is well-known all over the country.
Sports and Games facilities include three leveled fields and several courts. Major field games like cricket and football, as well as throwball, basketball, tennis and badminton are taught and played. Regular physical exercise is conducted in the morning, and an annual athletics meet provides a focus for the development of athletic prowess and talent. Though we do not take part in any organized competitive sports, plenty of challenge is provided through coaching camps and invitations to outside teams for matches in various games. We also send a few teams to other schools for friendly matches.
Music and Dance are offered for interested and talented students. Vocal music in the Carnatik style, Veena, Violin and Mridangam lessons are given by well-qualified teachers. Bharatnatyam dance is taught along with folk dances of India. A piano teacher visits the school every fortnight to coach a limited number of students with the talent and the drive to work independently.
Senior boys and girls enjoy an evening of western folk-dancing on the weekends.
The Arts and Crafts department is large, with facilities for teaching drawing and painting, batik and needlework, pottery and carpentry, design and construction of toys and models. Interaction between subject areas is actively fostered. Whereas all students have ample time for arts and crafts, fine art is also is a popular choice as a subject of study for the ICSE and ISC examinations.