September 1: First Day of School

September 1: First Day of School

Okay, America, let’s get this right! Latvia makes the first day of school a national celebration. Every public school in the country starts on the same day every year—September 1. And on this day, students walk to school with flowers in hand to give to their teachers.

I was excited to see this spectacle, so I put on my suit jacket and walked from the MTS bus station to Gymnasium 2 taking photos as I went to document this beautiful day. The spectacle was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. (because Latvia is merciful to people and their sleep schedules) and last for all of 40 minutes (because, yes, it’s the first day of school).





When I arrived at the school, there was energy in the air. Students were dressed up and ready to start school. All the teachers were wearing their best dresses and suits. Guntis, the headmaster, was waiting right at the entry way greeting teachers and students alike.

After some initial questions and answers for my peers, we went outside to the back courtyard which has a basketball court and some open space, to watch the choir perform and people give opening day speeches. I wish I could tell you what they said in the speeches, but my grasp of Latvian got as far as “jaunu gadu” (New Year) and lots of “labis” (good). Not sure of much else.

The music was truly lovely, especially “Saule, Pērkons, Daugava” (Sun, Thunder, Daugava) which is the school’s official anthem and the new anthem of Catalonia! How cool is that?


The piano was too loud, and overall, the sound system was a real problem. Students complained that they really couldn’t hear anything, but the spirit of the day was achieved! I saw a host of former graduates returning for the day, which is inspiring. I met several other teachers which is great!

I had my photo opportunity at the front of the school with the staff, and I even got flowers for being a new teacher at the school. For the after party, they gave teachers wine and cake. It was absolutely delightful.

I left early, however, because I had important business to attend to. Next up… Moving out!

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