School’s out for summer!

21 Jun

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Yet, for my twin daughters, Maya and Romy, 14, things did change this year.  They’re done with middle school at Kadoorie, an agricultural and boarding school in Galilee.  The large campus, horse stables, milking cow shed, fields — they all stretch below Mount Tavor.  Last week the renowned school celebrated its 80th anniversary.  Among the graduating class of 1940: the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; in 1937: Yigal Allon, the late Foreign Minister.

Yitzhak Rabin graduated from Kadoorie School in 1940

Yitzhak Rabin graduated from Kadoorie School in 1940

With such a pedigree of alumni, I thought it fitting to ask my daughters of their impressions of the school, a summer away from becoming freshmen at Kadoorie.

Me:  “This is your second year in Israel.  How would you say Kadoorie is different from your school in Los Angeles?”

Romy: “In L.A., we had 200 kids in the entire school.”

Maya: “At Kadoorie we have 2000.”

Romy: “The kids come from all over.”

Me: “You mean from the different villages?”

Romy: “I mean the kids are bused from ALL over: villages, small towns, some Arabs, Circassians.”

Yigal Allon graduated from Kadoorie School in 1937

Yigal Allon graduated from Kadoorie School in 1937

Maya: “And kids from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia.  They come from these countries without their parents.”

Romy: “And refugee kids who’d escaped from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia.  They live at the boarding school.”

Me: “Do you know that some of Israel’s most famous leaders attended and graduated from your school?”

Maya: “They talk about it at school all the time.  But no one listens or cares.”

Me: “Why?”

Romy: “Because no ones listens to ANYTHING being said at school.”

Maya: “You can’t imagine how loud the kids are.  They’re out-of-control.  Wild.  Crazy.”

Romy: “The teachers can’t control the kids.  The kids don’t respect authority.”

Kadoorie school

Kadoorie school

Maya: “A kid will talk back to the teacher.  The teacher warns the kid.  The kid doesn’t care.  The teacher writes his name on the board.  The kid acts out.  The teacher warns the kid.  The kid get up from his seat, cusses the teacher, walks out of class, slams the door.”

Romy: “Half the kids are on Ritalin.”

Me: “How do you know?”

Maya: “It’s easy to spot them, the ADHD kids; they’re like zombies, their heads are on the table.”

Romy: “Sometimes they forget to take their medicine in the morning.  That’s when they go wild in class.”

Kadoorie school grounds

Kadoorie school grounds

Me: “What does a typical period looks like?”

Romy: “Okay, this is _____”

Maya: “Let me tell you.  The period is 45 minutes long.  First off, the teacher is late arriving in class.  By that time, the kids are on their phones, calling, texting, screaming, jumping.  It takes 10 to 15 minutes to settle the class.”

Romy: “Then we might learn something for 20 minutes.”

Maya:” Most kids put away their books 10 minutes before the bell rings.”

Me: “What kind of bell or buzzer is it?”

Romy: “It’s not a bell.  It’s a song.  The school plays a Hebrew song on the PA system.  They change the song every week.”

View of Mount Tavor from Kadoorie School

View of Mount Tavor from Kadoorie School

Me: “Do you guys smoke?”

Maya and Romy: “No! But several kids in our class smoke.  They smoke near the school bus depot, on the grass.”

Me: “And the teachers don’t care?”

Maya and Romy: “They smoke too!”

Me: “What about school tests.  Do you cheat?”

Romy: Dad!!!

Maya: “Kids take screen shots of WikiPedia articles with their cell phones before the test or write stuff on the desks.”

Me: “And the teacher lets them?”

Maya and Romy: “Kids don’t care.”

Me: “What do kids bring for snack?”

Kadoorie -- last day of the school year

Kadoorie — last day of the school year

Maya: “Nutella spread on white pita bread.”

Romy: “The kiosk sells disgusting hot dogs.  The fries are pretty good.  Everyone buys soda and candy.”

Me: “Do kids do their homework?”

Maya: “If they do, most teachers don’t bother to check.”

Me: “What’s your favorite subject?

Maya: “History.”

Romy: “geography.”

Me: “What’s you least favorite subject?”

Maya and Romy: “Bible!!”

Me: “Why?”

Maya and Romy: “Because the teacher herself is on Retalin!  She gets God, Moses, Yehoshua, everyone, mixed up.”

Me: “There’s a school uniform T-shirt, but I noticed they don’t all wear it.”

Maya: “They do.  But some of the girls cut the neckline lower so they can show more….  And some roll up their shirts to expose their belly button.  And often they’re pierced.”

Me: “And the boys?”

Romy: “They all wear flip-flops and shout all day.”

Maya and Romy selling their old textbooks at Kadoorie book fair

Maya and Romy selling their old textbooks at Kadoorie book fair

Me: “No, I mean do you find some of them cute?”

Maya: “The ones that are smart or mature are not cute.  The the ones that are cute are not smart or mature.”

Me: “Shouldn’t you cut them some slack?  You’re not perfect.”

Maya and Romy: “We’re not perfect.  We just hope they’ll mature next year.”

Me: “Did you make friends?”

Maya and Romy: “We each have a best friend.”

Me: “So how would you best describe Kadoorie school?”

Maya: “A playground with teachers.”

Me: Did you know Yizhak Rabin and Yigal Allon went to your school?”

Maya and Romy: “Dad!!!!


Do you remember your LAST summer before starting high school?

Let me remind you:

Here are some lyrics from Alice Copper’s “School’s Out for Summer:”

Romy and Maya -- Is it summer vacation or what???

Romy and Maya — Is it summer vacation or what???

“We Got No Class

And We Got No Principals

And We Got No Innocence

We Can’t Think of a Word That Rhymes

School’s Out for Summer

To play, click on link below….


Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teen-age daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at or


One Response to “School’s out for summer!”

  1. Sandy Galfas June 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Your girls are beautiful, Maurice. Hope they and you have a great summer. Sandy G

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