Try picturing this: A handful of single-story, brown wooden buildings with brightly coloured doors scattered around a playground in a clearing, and surrounded by large, mature trees in a small forest. An obstacle course with huge logs used as balance beams, ropes and wooden ladders off to one side of the buildings. On the other, in another small clearing, a soccer pitch has been marked out with gravel.
Can you see it with your inner eye? Leaves fluttering gently in the summer breeze...the sun's rays peeking through the tree tops. Serenity reigns - until the bell rings.
Out run 450 students with excess energy to burn off for the next 15 minutes. They attack the slides on the wooden playground with gusto. Launch an assault on the climbing frames erected around the slides, and jump on the balance beams with an agility indicating that this is not the first time. Down in the smaller clearing, the older boys have taken their shirts off on the warm day, and are continuing the soccer game from yesterday's recess.
The screams of joy, occasionally a shout of pain. Young voices everywhere.
Then the bell rings again. Children rushing this way and that way as their classroom doors open, and they are swallowed up by the little brown buildings. Peace and tranquility fall yet again over Hallermoen elementary school. You can almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the trees that yet another recess is over.
I cannot conceive of anything more idyllic than this setting for a school.