There are a number of new faces in Mill Village since the DEVI School opened in September.
The Riverbank General Store and Café hosted a DEVI School meet and greet from 3:30-5 p.m. Oct. 29.
There are currently 27 students going to school in the former Mill Village Consolidated School building, with 13 countries represented. The school offers grades 6-10.
“We hope next year to add (Grade) 11, and the year after (Grade) 12, so that we can actually give the Nova Scotia high school diploma because we’re following the Nova Scotia curriculum,” said Mary Kuhn, the principal and a teacher at the school.
The core teaching staff also represents a number of countries, including the US, Canada, Berlin and the United Kingdom, among others. Kuhn said there are six core teachers.
The school’s name is an acronym for dignity, education, values and integration.
“Devi also is a Sanskrit word which could mean anything of excellence,” explained Marcel Kuhn, general manager of the school.
He said the name is also related to a style of meditation - Sahaja Yoga meditation - the students practice morning and evening. Sahaja Yoga was founded by Nirmala Srivastava - more commonly known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.
Students and some staff live in a house and cottages on a property across the bridge from the Riverbank General Store and Café.
“The girls are in the cottages, and the boys are in the main house, and there are four students per room,” said Marcel. “We have two dorm aunties who look after the girls and we have a dorm uncle who looks after the boys.”
There are also a couple of other support staff who help look after the boys.
Additionally, there is also kitchen staff. For meals, staff and students are eating what’s in season and “what you would find in a typical Nova Scotia kitchen,” Mary said.
“Busy,” said Mary in response to what it’s been like so far. “It’s been busy, but it’s been great.”
Mary said she’s been enjoying seeing the mix of cultures. There are students from Italy, Canada, the US, China, Mexico and the UK.
“They get on quite well and quite easily with each other. A lot of them had never met before,” said Mary.
Marcel said because it’s such a small school, it’s become like a family.
Twelve-year-old Ricardo Swennen, who’s in Grade 7, is part of that DEVI School family.
“I love this place because it is very different from where I come from,” he said.
Swennen lived in Holland for four years and has lived in Mexico since then. He said what he especially likes about Nova Scotia is the nature, such as the Medway River. Swennen says he’s enjoyed meeting people from all over the world.
Swennen speaks Dutch and Spanish and is working to improve his English. His favourite school subject is physical education.
Day at DEVI
On school days, students rise at about 6 a.m.
“And at 6:45, they meditate,” said Marcel.
Following meditation, the teens eat breakfast and then walk to school. The school day begins with a 10- or 15-minute assembly.
School begins at 8:30 a.m., said Mary. There are five periods through the day, and there are two breaks - a morning and lunch one.
“The seniors have an extra sixth period,” said Mary.
Four days a week are activities, such as dance, drama, art, language clubs, fort building and coding.
Because the weather has been so nice, Mary said students and staff have been taking regular Wednesday excursions.They’ve gone to Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct, Summerville Beach, Beach Meadows, LaHave and Lunenburg. They are set to head to Peggy’s Cove Nov. 1.
After school, students have free time followed by dinner. After dinner is more free time and then another 20 or 30 minutes of meditation.
“And then reading time and sleeping time,” said Mary.
Most of the funding for the school comes from tuition, which is due at the beginning of the school year and again in December.
For more information about DEVI School, visit https://www.devischool.org/about/.