We went around school interviewing middle school students of Step By Step about the things they like in the MSFE 2019. There are always some who will not use their time productively, but an overwhelming number liked the fact that they got a chance to immerse themselves in the things they like the most. And who says learning does not happen when we are having fun with friends :)

The legendary King Vikram and Betaal, an evil spirit that haunted the forests are the subject of several short stories, twenty-five to be precise. The duo has been around for a long time and the stories have regaled generations of Indians.

In this tale, King Vikram promised to capture a spirit for a sage. After confronting Betaal, the spirit promised to accompany Vikram on one condition. King Vikram must not speak during the journey. Twenty-four times as they made their way through the thick forests Betaal would tell a story and ask the king for an answer to the riddle at the end. When the righteous king could not stop himself from delivering justice, Betaal would fly away. However, in conclusion the Raja did manage to maintain his silence. At the end of the last story he thus succeeded in his quest to get Betaal to the sage.

The stories are creative, imaginative and force the audience to think. However, the sad thing was that our generation has lost touch with these tales. As we went around asking middle-schoolers of Step By Step School, we could find no one who knew Betaal when everyone know about the vampire.

This MSFE is a good chance to discover our own repertoire of tales!

When you spend the whole day together on a daily basis with your group a lot happens. The reporters went around asking different groups about the moments they experienced in their groups, since they know each other so well to spread the MSFE cheer more. Here are some of them.

The practice of the play has taken on a grave intensity as the dedicated and enthusiastic students were putting in their best. The play’s seriousness was matched by that of the students. Then the inevitable happened. The scene was in progress, as the guru set about the task of teaching the students the Kalaripayattu. Five people were lying down on the floor in a row and the student had to lie above those who were lying down on the ground. As everyone would roll together, so would the student above them. It just so happened that the student on top got stuck in between them and it was hard for him to get out of there. Everyone was literally rolling with laughter. Eventually that pile of humans came undone!

Not immediately noticeable to the human eye upon entering the tabla room, were two students taking a nap and one was even hiding behind the instruments. Zakir Sir wasn’t there. When the students saw the reporter, they instantly jumped up wide awake- but not quite awake because mistook him for Zakir sir! Not even close but loads of fun for me!

Our graceful dancers had their own brush with adventure right at their venues. The dancers from Lavani dance had been practicing all day. They came back from lunch and started slipping on stage because of their slippery socks. While there was a lot of giggling and outright laughter from the onlookers it came to an end rather suddenly. One of the dancers fell and hurt her back a little!

One dancer left her hair open while dancing not knowing the mishaps that would follow. Since the dance requires stealthy movements by the partners, she was very focused on her motion and forgot that her hair was open. The next thing we know is that her hair is hitting the faces of all the dancers causing distraction and confusion. Everything went haywire and was extremely chaotic! Garba is an energetic dance no doubt but who had thought it will become a smacking game as well!

MSFE is all about doing what you love and enjoying! This is something the entire form looks up to. MSFE is without a doubt something you need to put a lot of effort in, but it’s also about having the time of your life with your friends and teachers.

Nonstop practices are being conducted to tie every loose end of the show since the MSFE is so close. Every venue you go to look at, all you can see is kid’s practicing extremely hard. MSFE being an event to let your inner talent’s shine, is also a platform to bond. You come across so many new people on stage and off stage. A lot of time and practice is dedicated to the MSFE resulting in you being with a different group of people most of the day, every day. What better opportunity to interact and make new friends and bond with your teachers than this?

The entire show is finally falling in place as we moved to full rehearsals in the auditorium. And we are delighted to inform you that it is just simply spectacular!

The unique dances that our dancers are extremely lively will want you to just get up and dance! Kindly do refrain from that impulse as you are the audience; maybe you can get a friendly dancer to teach you a few steps later. But for now, just sit back and enjoy! Behind the scenes a lot of practice has gone into honing the difficult dances so that all that energy looks effortless and graceful.

As reporters, we’ve been watching all the dances grow- from that first steps where the dancers learnt to dance to a new style of choreography to finalising them under the bright spotlights. First there would be a lot of corrections and the dances kept stopping in between. Neither was there much coordination. everyone is a lot more focused and have nearly found their rhythm. However, there is still confusion because of the constant changing of steps to fit the time we have left to prepare. The dancers are communicating with each other and positioning themselves in ways that they are easily visible to the audience. The dancers are putting in a lot of work and effort to perfect every step and make their movements flawless. Now there’s a whole new flow to the steps, entries and exits. The coordination has really gone a long way. The dancers have without a doubt proved the famous quote: ‘Practice makes Perfect’.

Not to be left behind, were our musicians! Crash! Dum-Dum! Wait! Did you think someone fell? Nah! that’s just us trying to capture the sound of music in words and failing miserably. Nothing can ever beat the sound of music. Music unites people, brings happiness and spreads happiness. Our own artistes were playing the instruments very well and were synchronised with the words that the singers who were singing.

There is always someone goofing off too! One of the photographers was caught taking photos of the wall- we are not tattle tales, so we will leave you guessing, who it was. He kept asking if it the photos were good! A conscientious artiste tried to concentrate on learning his lines. But when a paper ball landed on him, he was soon more engrossed in a dodge (paper) ball fight. They both were having a lot of fun till a production team member played spoil-sport. Or shall we say till order was restored

There are hard-working photographers too and you just have to open the tab to see the magical moments captured forever. A photographer that we followed spent her entire day focusing on her subjects- the dance and drama. She faced a general problem while clicking photos, such as being constantly disturbed by members of production who wished to see the photos she clicked and click photos themselves. We admired her diligence- She had a broken lens due to which the object or person she was focusing on and the area around it using that lens were slightly highlighted in orange. Using the resources she had, she did an amazing job.

All in all the run through of the whole Middle School Form Evening was a success. The dastangos and the comperes did their job very well indeed. Entry and exit were on time. Every person had appropriate expressions on their face. The plays went in a flow one after another without any break. The compares spoke fluently with voice modulation and expression. They covered each other’s mistakes. Like when the clothes seller dropped the clothes one of the students helped him pick it up.

With everyone focusing on improving the audios and projections for the show, perfecting their entries, exits and positions and practicing their expressions and voice modulation, we are determined to put on a good show for you, our dear family and friends.

Did we mention that Dr. Prasad was also present to watch the rehearsals?

Netra, Dev and I were given an assignment to survey middle school students of Step by Step school to ask them if they knew any Panchatantra story. We complied the following data:

130 of the students out of the total 150 knew at least one story but sadly another 20 didn’t know anything!!!

We feel that they must have heard or read them at least one, in their lives but forgotten them. These stories which are filled with humor, adventure, mystery and is enriched with the elements of our culture. These stories of the Panchatantra are ingrained in our roots and culture and children are brought up reading or listening to them, Panchatantra teach us morals, good habits and life lessons to preserve in our heart. They have touched people’s hearts and made them laugh out loud. Panchatantra stories have lasted decades, centuries and years and it is our job to keep them safe not in our minds but in our hearts.

The next part of the assignment was to survey which story they knew best. The group got numerous stories and here are the ones most popularly known by SBS middle school students:

So, which are your favourites? There are 84 and their many adaptations to choose from!
With just a week left before form evening, the middle school is abuzz with excitement. With full day practices under way, there is fun and laughter but a serious determination to outperform previous years has also set in. A report by Ayanna (8), Jia G. (8) and Jia M (8)

The Middle School Form Evening is an event that all the children look forward to. They get to display their unique talents and enjoy a break from regular studies. This years’ topic, middle schoolers feel, has been the most fun way to learn about their culture and traditions. Nandini Chaudhary of 8D says she gets to learn more about drama and folk dance, and overall, it’s a fun experience.

Full day practice means no classes. While teachers are worried about completing the course, children couldn’t be happier. One could say, that itself, makes it the best part of the year for the kids. Tara Subramaniam of 8C says that the upside to full day practices is that there are no lessons being conducted. However, time for practicing has increased and so it’s become a lot more tiring. Samya Singh of 8B agrees and says that she has a lot of free time, but when they must practice, they work productively. Kavita ma’am was of the view that although the children are missing out on studies, full day practices are required to achieve perfection. Most of the students we’ve interviewed have agreed that they have a lot of free time and get to have fun with their friends, but when they practice, they devote all their energy into performing to the best of their abilities.

Our next question was about expectations! Here at Step by Step the MSFE is taken very seriously and the children and teachers put in a lot of effort as they work to put up a great show. With so much energy and effort, it is but natural that everyone wants the outcome to be dazzling! We asked the student’s if their teachers have increased the pressure or expectations from them recently since the Middle School Form Evening is getting closer. The Middle School Form Evening is an event everybody looks forward to. The parents also wait in excitement to watch their children perform and pursue what they love.

With the MSFE right around the corner, the expectations are building up, was a view shared in general by the children. It was felt that it was good that practices started quite early and it could take the onslaught of pollution in its stride. The comperes are moving in good pace, says Samya Singh. However, Tara Subramaniam disagreed with this. According to her this time is very crucial time and a lot of coordination is required in her dance. Most of the participants that we came in conversation with, told us that there isn’t rally much pressure since they’ve been working productively and almost throughout.

Our next question was on the theme itself. Initially, many in the student community were not convinced by the theme and the performances. We asked the students whether there were any changes in their attitude and feelings. Tara Bajaj from class 7 said that initially she wasn’t that excited since she was not an avid Hindi speaker. However, halfway into the practices, she has become more engrossed in the topic and discovered the exclusivity, variety and of the topic as well as how thought-provoking it is. By shedding light on this topic, the children have learnt more about India; the different dances, music, folktales and stories as well.

Rania Anand from 8B concurred. Unlike others, she she had found the opportunity to experience a new topic that she had never been introduced to, very invigorating. She was excited to be learning about folk and seeing how we would cover the topic. Now, after more so many weeks, she remains excited as the students were able to immerse themselves in cultural forms which are new to them but actually represent centuries of our heritage. She said that the topic stands for uniqueness and differences within our many cultures. “The MSFE topic this year highlights the diverse cultures in our country which is what our school also stands for – inclusion,” she said.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can have an adverse effect on our lives was amply demonstrated by the havoc it created in the Delhi-NCR region and closer to us on our MSFE. It got postponed by a week as there were so many unscheduled holidays as the entire region came under toxic smog. Our reporters Eshan (6 A) and Ishan (6 D) went around school to gauge the level of awareness that middle-schoolers have on the very important topic of pollution.

We interviewed twenty students of middle school to check on their take on the pollution crisis. We asked them whether they know about pollution to find out how much they have tried aquaint themselves of the issue. Most students mentioned air pollution and noise pollution as types of pollution. But two students also mentioned water pollution and plastic pollution as well. Pollution has very bad effects on us and all the students mentioned that we suffer from asthma and several respiratory problems because of it. Of course, here they were thinking of only the most obvious impact of air pollution. We often forget the hazards posed by other forms of pollution.

There are many causes of pollution such as bursting crackers, not carpooling, using excess of A.C, stubble burning, burning fossil fuels, construction etc. Many felt that we humans are the cause of this pollution as we are the ones doing these actions. To fight this pollution, there are many ways such as: using public transport, reduce burning crops, not using the A.C when not needed etc. A student also said that we could use hydroelectricity and solar energy to power our homes.

What is the future before us? If the pollution continues for fifteen years or more, there will be consequences. Our lifespan will reduce by ten years, tigers and many such species of animals will become extinct. Life will be very tough indeed. Obviously then it is we who have to change our future.

One such experiment of collectively changing our attitude was the odd-even scheme. The odd-even scheme was introduced by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to reduce the pollution levels in Delhi NCR. Many people were against the scheme. We asked students whether the odd-even scheme reduced pollution or not. Almost half were not convinced but some felt that it can make a difference. Aashmiin Kaur of 7-C said, “I think that this scheme would reduce the pollution as less cars would be on the road and the Co2 emissions would decrease.’’

So, the future is literally in our actions! Let’s act for a brighter, healthier and greener future!

The English word ‘folk-tale’ comes from the German word ‘volk’ meaning people. So, folktales are quite literally the tales of the people, their day to day life, their concerns, humanity itself. It is often an old story that's been told again and again over generations.

Folktales are stories in the oral tradition, or tales that people tell each other out loud, rather than stories which have been written by someone. When we come across folktales in books it because someone took the trouble to transcribe the story which may have existed for hundreds of years. They are closely related to many storytelling traditions, including fables, myths, and fairy tales. Every human society has its own folktales- these are well-known stories, handed down between generations, are an important way of passing along knowledge, information, and history.
Have you ever wondered from where have the tales told by our grandparents come from? Well, these tales come from different parts of the India and even around the world. What better way of learning more about our heritage, than reading some folktales from the region in which your great-great-grandparents grew up in.

There are many different kinds of folk tales, with thousands of regional and cultural variations, but they all share a few common characteristics. Folktales are usually about ordinary people and everyday life, will also include talking, thinking plants and animals who face problems that humans do. Some stories involve supernatural elements, while others involve animals, but the animal characters behave like humans, with realistic emotions, flaws, and failings. This is part of what makes folk tales so enduring and appealing - listeners can relate to the characters in the story and imagine what they would do in the same situation.

The stories’ setting is simple, its characters often flat and one-dimensional, eg. clever, greedy, honest, sly. and there is a problem which needs a solution. Hyperbole is always found in these tales, so one may say these are indeed tall tales! Rapunzel with her long hair has fascinated so many across the globe. Popular folk tales like the foolish lion and the clever rabbit teach us never to be greedy. Every folk story not only tells a tale but also gives a message! There are some motifs which are popular in folk tales- wishes granted, a monster who enters the human world, magical objects, the use of trickery, a poor person who becomes rich, a rich person who is miserly, the youngest of siblings is successful after others in the family have failed, a variety of wise and unwise characters dot each story.

We conclude that folk tales are very old stories where there is a moral attached to the tale!! This MSFE is a celebration of the many folk traditions of India. Come and explore with us!

Amaira has been on the lookout of folktales that her peers have heard from their grandparents. Here is the story told to her by Anya Chandra of 6A, which is her own absolute favourite. There are many tales which tell the tales of birds and this one is of the Sparrow and the Crow.

Once upon a time there lived a sparrow and a crow on the same tree. One day both went in search of food. The sparrow found a pearl and the crow found a grain of gram. The crow ate the grain and asked for the pearl to see it. But the sparrow was not ready to give it to the crow. The crow started to beg her to show it. At last, the sparrow gave it to him to see it. The crow took the pearl and flew high and sat on the branch of the tree. He did not want to give her, her pearl. Then the sparrow decided to punish him. She went to the carpenter and asked him to cut the tree, but he refused. Then he went to the Queen and requested her to punish the carpenter, but she too refused. Then she went to the rat and asked him to nibble the sari of the queen, but he refused to it as well. So, she went to the cat and asked her to eat the rat, but she refused. Then she went to the dog and asked him to bite the cat, but he refused. Then she went to a thick wooden thick and asked it to beat the dog, but it refused too. Then she went to the fire and asked it to burn the stick, but it refused. Then she went to the sea and asked it to put out the fire, but it refused her request like all the others. She then went to the elephant and asked him to drink the sea, but he refused. Finally, she went to the ant and asked her to enter the ear of the elephant.

The ant agreed at once and became ready to enter the ear of the elephant. The elephant afraid of her, became ready to drink the sea; the sea was now ready to put out the fire; the fire became ready to burn the stick; the stick became ready to beat the dog; the dog to bite the cat; the cat was ready to eat the rat; the rat was ready to nibble the sari of the queen; the queen was immediately ready to punish the carpenter; the carpenter became ready to cut the tree. At last, the crow was frightened and gave back the pearl to the sparrow. How many of us can be like the sparrow? What lesson can we learn from her? Are there any other lessons to be learnt from this seemingly simple but complex tale of actions and morals?

Grandma Tells of the Crocodile and the Fox
Amaira of 6B went around school to find out the favourite folktales that children remember. Grandmothers are often the best sources of folktales. Here is a story which Aryan of 6E had had heard from his grandmother when he was younger.

The story of the Crocodile and the Fox is one that many of us may know in various versions. Here is as his grandmother used to recite it. Once upon a time, there lived a fox in the dark and deep forest. He was a very cunning fellow. In the forest there was a river. In the river lived many crocodiles. All of them were very cruel but dull headed.

One day, the fox saw that on the other bank of the river there was a tree of black berries and there were sweet black berries on the tree and the ripened ones were scattered under the tree. The fox wanted to eat them, but he could not swim. So, he thought of a plan. He saw that a crocodile was resting on the bank of the river. He started to talk with her. He praised her lot. He told her about the black berries and asked her if she allowed him to sit on her back and took him to the other bank of the river, he would give her plenty of black berries to eat.

Upon this promise of black berries, the crocodile became very happy and at once agreed to take him to the other bank. The clever fox sat on her back and they started their journey. Now the fox started to praise her that her back was very smooth, and he felt lucky that he got a chance to sit upon such a smooth back. The crocodile became very happy and safely took him on the other bank of the river. As the fox climbed down safely on the ground, he ran away as fast as he could and never showed his face to the crocodile again.

No folktale comes without a message. What do you think is the message of this story?
Musical Medley
November is approaching, and so is the Middle School Form Evening for the year 2019. The building is just buzzing with excitement, for the students are eager to make some noise and put together a show everyone will remember. Speaking of noise, one event is like a ticking time bomb. Yes, I am talking about the orchestra. It is filled with the young talents of the forms 6, 7, and 8 who are playing various instruments to bring beautiful music to our stage. They will be playing instruments like the Cajon, Djembe, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboard, violin, drums, tabla, sitar, and the flute.

As a part of their performance, they will be providing the music for five songs; Kodagakana Koli Nungitha, Shoshan, Chickile, Chandarey, and finally, the Punjabi boomer, Charkha Chananda. Although they are only still practicing the first song, Kodogakana Koli Nungitha, it sounds amazing. I have to admit; I was at first thrown off by the title. But then the doors opened to the sounds of electric guitars and drums, and I got the chills. It sounded simply amazing!

As soon as you walk into the music room, you notice that fingers bandaged in masking tape was quite a common site amongst the percussionists. It just went to show how hard they had been practicing, and how much this show means to them.

Another interesting thing that you would find if you stick around for a bit is that the interludes are named after food items. For example, the first interlude was called ‘Kofta’. I heard another one, which had been dubbed ‘Kebab’. What followed this ceremony of baptism was the students’ plea of naming it something ‘normal’. Although they are only on their first song, I can assure you they will be ready in time and will sound great. I for one cannot wait until they are ready, and then brag about how I was the first person to hear them.
Well into the first week of MSFE practices we decided to take a round of the venues and check out the progress. After all, the buzz of excitement that engulfs three floors of our school from 12:00 onwards is hard to miss.

At first glance, things appeared to be a bit chaotic in the studio theatre. Yet, just a couple of minutes and we could make out that they had already done a bit of rehearsal. Everyone was beginning to become familiar with the content of the scene and seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. A conscientious soul chipped in, ‘But we do need to start getting a bit serious now to put up our best performance. It is a challenging scene and getting the comedy aspect of it right won’t be easy.’ But nonetheless, we can assure you that everyone is working hard to crack it.

We observed scene two from the play and got to know about a dance form, known as Kalaripayattu. It is an Indian martial art and fighting system that originated in Kerela. This was the dance form that was being practiced. Students were enthusiastic and keen to learn about the dance form. They were looking forward to the event and so was their teacher. The scene is about a boy being bullied by some boys and you have to come and watch the rest during the form evening.

It was an eventful day in the Indian music room. There were some slip ups and initial hiccups which kept the amusement levels high. Everyone is familiarizing themselves with the tunes, beats, lyrics and songs. We were assured that soon the tempos will be set, and practice will be in earnest. The tempo did get set but not in the manner they had imagined. When Anita ma’am made a surprise visit, everyone fell into line. Such is her power!

In the other music room, everyone was playing a different instrument, like the guitar, drums, piano and violin. The sounds reverberating in the room were amazing and the musicians were great. The drums gave it a more sophisticated sound, which made everything more melodious. When not specifically practicing their own instruments, some students managed to sneak in a quick nap right in the middle of rehearsals while sir was busy with others.

We just can’t wait for the heavenly music that these two rooms will create!

Our next stop was with the dance group. The infectious celebratory dance from Gujarat, Garba is just the thing to build a sense of team spirit. It is a vigorous dance form and radiates an energy that is contagious. It also requires a lot of synchronization and choreography. Everyone was having fun, and just about getting the hang of it. There are some who have a natural flair for it, while others still have a long way of practice in order to perfect it. The beat is exciting and fun and is sure to get the audience on its feet! We also met with some of the non-participants. This is the disparate bunch of those who are yet to find a role and those who must give a miss to the excitement because they will not be able to attend the final days.

Keep watching this space for updates on the backbone of the Form Evening- production team, reporters, website designers and those doing the projections.