June 30 (or the last business day in June) is generally the last day of school in the Czech Republic. Thousands of pupils and students received their report cards today at 8:00 a.m, in exchange for flowers for their female class teachers, and went home.
The Czech school system differs a lot from, let’s say, the U.S. system (the aspects of which can be observed in every teen movies and TV series like Never Been Kissed, 90210, California Dreams, etc.). The last day of school offers several visible proofs. Czech pupils and students at all levels of education (up to high school) spend the entire time with the same group of 25-30 classmates with whom they are grouped together when they start elementary, junior high and high school (note: U.S. analogies are used here). And so the person who gives them their report cards is their class teacher, i.e. the educator who is responsible for the particular group.
This system makes a translator’s life a living hell, because a group of students are called trida (EN: class), there are usually four groups in one rocnik (grade). But in English, the term class is used to refer to the entire group of students who graduate together (Class of 2010).
Report cards are not just ordinary printouts with grades on them. They look like diplomas, with the coat of arms of the Czech Republic, signatures and everything. They are handed out in person – the process involves handshakes and female teachers are usually given flowers. High school students usually collect money and buy one gift together, especially when their class teacher is a man.
There are two sets of grades on the report card, since academic years are divided into two “semesters” (Czech: pololeti, half-years). Although some exceptions might apply, students are given grades (1 to 5) throughout the semester, at the end of which the overall grade is estimated). Some “modern schools”, where applicable, apply the “point collecting system” (e.g. like in U.S. colleges, where every paper is worth 15 points, presentations are worth 30 points and the final paper is worth 50 and one must have at least 75 to pass, etc.).
Sometimes students have the overall result “halfway between a 2 and a 3” (“very good” and “good”) so they make a deal with the teacher: he or she is softer in the first semester but if there is the same dilemma at the end of the academic year, he or she will do the opposite.
The 2010/2011 academic year starts on September 1.