We got amaaaazing news today. Adele is starting school next week!
School starts around age three here in Abu Dhabi. Nurseries are not allowed to take children four and over. Therefore, Adele was supposed to be in school already when we moved here, as she turned four in August. However, because all non-Emiratis are required to send their children to private schools and there are fewer private school positions than there are children who need them, getting into school – especially the top tier schools – can be difficult and competitive. By the time we knew that we would be moving to Abu Dhabi, most application deadlines had passed. Furthermore, the schools that did respond to us required transcripts from Adele as well as in-person interviews. Impossible for us, since Adele has never even attended daycare, let alone a class with transcripts, and we were nowhere near Abu Dhabi and wouldn’t arrive until the week before school started.
We figured this first year was a wash and so we looked for alternatives. Luckily, we found a Montessori school that promised us they were legally allowed to admit four-year-olds. Unluckily, that school kept sending us emails moving the start date further and further back due to construction. It was supposed to open this summer. Then, a bit later in the fall. The last hopeful start date that we heard was to be in January 2015. Adele staying home with me was not a concern, but I was worried about how this would affect her chances of getting into real school next year, since she wouldn’t have complete transcripts.
Just yesterday, I got the feeling that we should apply to one more real school at the very last minute. You never know what’s going to happen (students may have left the city or opted for another school) and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to inquire. I told Jeff to contact the Cranleigh School, which is here on Saadiyat Island near the NYU campus. He received a faintly positive response, jumped in a cab to head over to the admissions office (he wanted to walk, because he was too impatient to wait for a cab, but it was MIDDAY and he would have arrived looking like a sweaty lunatic), and talked-up Adele so well that they offered her a position on the spot!!! I still can’t believe it. The woman in admissions told Jeff that had we not acted when we did, there would have been no way for Adele (or May) to get into Cranleigh in the next three years.
The Cranleigh School is the best of the best here in Abu Dhabi. It’s a brand new campus, just like NYU is, and promises to offer world-class facilities. It is an off-shoot of the Cranleigh School in Surrey, England, which has been around since 1865. We’re talking old-school British prep here: plaid skirts and ties and navy blazers with the school’s crest as uniforms, “houses” like at Hogwarts (will Adele be Ravenclaw or Slytherin?), and even boarding, though I highly doubt we will take advantage of that.
I can’t believe my baby is starting school so soon. I’m not emotionally prepared for it, but at the same time, I’ve been thinking that she was ready for real school for years already! Get ready for the world’s cutest first-day-of-school photos! My baaaaaaaaby.