The seniors have been preparing all four years to take their final exams called Maturità. This test defines if they graduate and if they can get into a good university. The closest thing I can relate them to is the SAT but trust me it is VERY different.
A senior student must take Maturità in English and in Czech literature and then must also pick two other subjects to be tested on. I was able to watch the English proceedings. Students are put together in groups of three. The first student enters the test room where a panel of four teachers are waiting, to adjudicate the student is given the topics he or she must prepare within 15 minutes. Once her 15 minutes have passed the next student is welcomed into the room and given a different topic and 15 minutes to prepare while the 1st student is put in front of the panel. The head English teacher asks questions and it is a conversational style test. She then must speak for three to five minutes about American, British or Canadian politics or culture depending on what random question she has received. After she has finished she is asked to leave and the student that was preparing is called up for examination. This cycle follows with the last student in the group of three.
The testing style is not the only part of Maturità that is very different. Students taking the test bring in homemade lunch items and desserts as well as chips, chocolates and beverages that are for the teachers. They use fine china and silverware that is brought from their homes. Every student must be dressed in business attire. Tables have white linens and a flower arrangement even the tables in the examination room. It is a very formal event that is taken very seriously.
Today is the day everyone has finished and passed their Maturità tests and it is a celebration! Teachers and students have all gathered together and opened bottles of champagne for a toast and a party. The class advisor Mr. Till made a speech about how he has watched this class grow and how he knows they are off to do great things. As I watch this celebration, I can’t help but think how I did not have as close of a relationship with my high school teachers. This type of celebration feels like something I would do with my High Point professors, right after graduation next year. I feel very special that I was able to be a part of this process.
Eugenia D Copeland