Friday, December 11, 2015

Here is why I think CAS is the best school in Pakistan

After spending nine years and counting at Centre of Advance Studies (CAS), I have come to cherish and value the teachings and experiences it has given me. The corn stand’s lala and the cafeteria staff has become the outlet of our daily ramblings. In every Centarian’s life, there are very few experiences that can compete with singing our school song, fighting for the last paratha roll and sitting by the steps waiting to high-five every junior that walks by.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein

This teaching is what highlights the CAS amid many other nation-wide recognised schools. While other educational institutes are driven by the thirst for grades and narrowly defined academic achievements, CAS teaches skills and expertise that are applicable outside the classroom. CAS bridges the gap between what is being taught in schools and the issues students have to address in the real world, outside the cocoon of parents and teachers.

The piled burden of mathematic calculations, historic accounts and scientific theories are one half of CAS’s curriculum. The other half focuses on discovering hidden talents and potential successes that are not necessarily academic in nature. Music, art and drama facilities have been provided to students with frequent developments. While CAS may not have the best sports facilities on campus as compared to other schools such as KGS (Karachi Grammar School), Aitchison College and Bay View Academy, it has arranged for students to engage in rowing, golf, tennis and squash at Karachi Boat Club, DHA Golf Club, DA Creek Club and Moin Khan Academy, respectively. At CAS, the development of the intellectual and physical self is balanced by involvement in community concerns and developing a social conscience.

While CAS recognises and instils its students to take pride in their triumphs, as a Centarian, I was also taught to be humble and modest. Students’ accomplishments are appreciated and applauded, creating a sense of belonging and comfort for the students, consequently encouraging them to surpass their own, and the teachers’ expectations. Centarians are taught to be confident and graceful with respect for peers, which outshines most teachings that any textbook has to offer. Even though many other schools produce well-rounded, composed and respectful individuals, CAS also teaches them to be confident within themselves.

CAS takes most pride in its diverse array of students. There is representation from multiple ethnic, social and religious communities, all of which work in harmony to create an integrated, gallant, and supportive student body. Such boundaries are not present in any circle of friends. While strolling through the ground, there won’t be any group perfect for the typical stereotypes present in other schools. Loyalty, unanimity and courtesy are the three fundamentals taught to each Centarian, as soon as they enter CAS. Any sense of superiority is condemned within the school, as all students stand shoulder to shoulder, regardless of their social and cultural background or beliefs. A student government is formed from the students of Grade 11, the senior most, who don’t only represent their grade, but the entire school and each and every student. Elections are conducted, which are considered one of the festivities of our school. We vote, help campaign, rally for our friends, and respect even those who do not get the black gown.

Some may argue that their institute is superior to CAS but they cannot compete with the personal relationship established between the students and the faculty. Although these institutes have a better infrastructure, and perhaps more enhanced facilities provided on campus, CAS’s affable environment sets students at ease to interact with teachers, whether it be academic related or not. After a while, the school becomes a second home, not just an institute. Speaking from personal experience, my third grade teacher is one of the many teachers that I can turn to for advice and assistance at any stage of my academic or personal decisions. Seven years later, and she still remains the first teacher I refer to in times of perplexity.

The relationship between teachers and students is further strengthened with the school’s various student exchange programs, in which teachers accompany a few group of students to different countries such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to explore their culture and traditions, as well as share our own. Along with the student exchange trips, each year, Grade 10 is sent to Lahore on a five-day study trip, in which the students get an opportunity to develop an interest in their nation’s history and create a bond with their peers. The trip exposes us to a variety of social and cultural traditions of Pakistan, but the memories made with our friends and teachers are those that cannot be forgotten. The sleeping picture collages, selfies with teachers, and sharing of shairi have created a unique place in our hearts, which have been possible only because of CAS.

The school’s philosophy and motto may not always produce the best academic outcomes, but it does develop a versatile, self-reliant and persistent individual. Centarians are ambitious, with a raging desire and willingness to excel in whatever one does. Seemingly, the opposite of being ambitious, humility sits in elegant balance within the students. While other schools’ formal education, firm rules and restrictions stifle the creativity of pupils, CAS’s academics are such that they are able to exude their creativity in their own manner. The epitome of a true Centarian is Ms Farhat Rasheed, who has accomplished a lot in the years after CAS. She is the president of Show You Care, an advocacy group for the physically disabled.

One of my most cherished memories in this school is the second grade sports day as the Yellow House Captain. Reminiscing over it still gives me a nostalgic feeling. I distinctly remember proudly marching down the tracks of National Cricket Stadium, holding the yellow house flag and scanning the stadium bleachers for my parents. I had to control the urge to wave to them elatedly. At that time, I thought that the feeling of pride that had enveloped me was the result of being captain of my house team, but later on I realised it was because of being a Centarian and being a part of a community of excellence. Each day that I walk down the school halls, a warm feeling dissolves in the depths of my heart and I feel proud of CAS, its teachings, and the opportunities it has provided for us.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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