I started school (as all Russian kids do) when I was seven, attending Middle School 288. I was so excited I thought I would burst! My mother had already taken me to the school to register and to take their test (which, being a clever little girl, I managed without too much of a problem) so I knew a little about the place. When I arrived on 1st September to begin my school career I was very, very eager.
The everyday uniform for a schoolgirl was a brown dress with a black apron but for the 1st September we wore a special white apron and had a white ribbon in our hair. Did we feel important!
Not that I liked my dress. I had one which was straight cut whereas some of the girls had ones which were waisted with a pleated skirt (boy, was I jealous). My dress also had what was called a white stoechka collar – a bit like a dog-collar ‒ and I vastly preferred the optional shirt-type collar. Such little things, but when you’re seven they mean such a lot.
My first day at school got off to a bad start. We were welcomed by speeches from the school’s Director and some of the children recited poetry and then the parents were dismissed and the older kids were directed to take the new arrivals to their class. The boy who took my hand was an idiot and delivered me to the wrong class. That caused a lot of confusion (I nearly cried because I was so worried I’d never find my right class) but finally everything was sorted out and I settled down to become a pupil.
As you’ll see from the photograph, political education started early in the USSR: that’s a poster explaining the teachings of Lenin on the back wall.
The school hours were from 8:30 to 1:15 six days a week but for those without parents at home these hours were extended. We were given lunch, time to do our homework and then there were various societies, the day ending at six in the afternoon.
All-in-all an excellent educational system.