A thank-you note

Nonny writes a letter to express her gratitude to Sir for everything he has done for her in the last 6-9 months which led to her exceptional performance. 

During the last 6–9 months, me and some of my friends went through an intense experience during which we prepared relentlessly for the oncoming exams. Although I did not realise it then, reflecting upon those months has made me understand that this experience not only made our fantastic results possible, but it also changed all of us at a fundamental level, making us much more mature and responsible than we initially were.

This would not have been possible without Sir. I remember how he worked tirelessly to ensure our results – learning all of our subjects himself so that he could teach it to us in the best possible way, taking classes from morning to late evening while at the same time managing all the responsibilities of running the school. I also remember some of the times when he, exasperated at the lack of cooperation from our end, refused to take our classes, thereby forcing us to start taking more initiative.

The perfect illustration of this is our Calculus and Macroeconomics result. When we first started studying Macroeconomics on our own from the textbook, we understood little of the complex concepts. Some of our best scores were only in the range of 600–650. When Sir realised that we were unable to learn Macro by ourselves, he started teaching it to us. In a week’s time, every single one of us had gotten an 800 in the mock test. The story of Calculus is the same. After months of doing sums from the textbook without really applying our minds , we were all scoring around 600. To improve this dire situation, Sir started personally taking Calculus classes at the beginning of the Contest Week. By the time the Contest Week had ended, all of us had moved to 800.

Apart from these two subjects, my most memorable experience was the preparation for Literature. When me and Sir first got started on this impossibly difficult subject, he told me that in the end, I must get a perfect 800 in the subject test. I had not even believed it possible, given that most of the passages and poems that appeared on the test were nearly indecipherable to me. But once he set the target so high, I began to consciously work towards it. We read and discussed pieces of literature (primarily Shakespeare), analysed poems written by noted poets such as Wilfred Owen, and relentlessly solved many past question papers together.

During this preparation, something that struck me about Sir was that he always seemed genuinely interested in whatever we were doing. This particular trait of his was apparent no matter what the subject was – be it Mathematics , Chemistry or, in this case, Literature. Whenever he would see a poem that he really liked in one of the question papers we were solving, he would immediately look it up in the Internet and read some of the other poems written by the same author. Some of the junior students may remember the time when several poems were posted on Twitter and some of them were even discussed in the common meeting. That sudden love for poems came from the incomprehensible poems in the Literature papers. It is this reaction which is really the secret of success: being passionate about almost anything.

He was always tolerant with me, but not always with the overall class. I particularly remember an incident when, fed up with our laziness and apathy, Sir suspended my entire class and told us that whoever was genuinely interested in learning would have to personally contact him and set up a time to meet. That jolted us out of our passivity, and forced us to actually make some effort on our end. It was times like these that helped us to stop being kids, and instead made us take initiative like adults.

Another experience that helped us grow up was the presence of the honour code. Whenever we give a mock exam in school, there is nobody monitoring us, making it extremely easy to cheat. Yet the thought does not even cross our minds, unlike many of the junior students who would probably jump at the opportunity. The implicit trust that Sir placed in us made us much more responsible and mature, because we did not want to do anything to risk losing that trust.

Overall, these last few months taught us that life does not merely consist of fun and frivolity, so much so that we sometimes feel exasperated by the junior classes when they are being lazy. But I doubt that we would have learnt much from this experience had it not been for Sir, who ensured that we actually underwent this difficult and intense experience without trying to avoid work or slack off. In the end, this experience did not only give us these great scores, but, perhaps more importantly, it made us grow up into adults.