BUKIT MERTAJAM: SK Ayer Itam on Penang island started the new year on a high, when it rolled out a special guest, a Stormtrooper.
Thirty-two Year One pupils and teachers alike were enthralled when the elite soldier of the Galactic Empire from Star Wars' fame arrived at the school's entrance.
He went from classroom-to-classroom and spent some time with the pupils to cheer them up.
The idea came about from the school administration, who wanted the new pupils to feel more at ease.
A clearly-amused Ahmad Iman Ayman Azrol said he was overjoyed having to meet the Stormtrooper.
“I am happy to begin schooling here,” he added.
His classmate, R. Syashalini, said she was glad to be making new friends.
Meanwhile, her passion for the Mandarin language led Suci Nur Baiti Imani Mohd Zaidi, 7, to pick SJK (C) Lay Keow to start her schooling years.
The Year One pupil has been learning the language since she was five.
Suci Nur Baiti said she was excited to begin schooling and does not feel awkward being surrounded by her new friends, the majority of whom are Chinese.
“I am sure I can get along well with them.
“I will study hard while here,” the petite girl said when met at the school this morning.
Her father, Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said, said he decided to send his daughter to the school so that she can master the language.
“The Mandarin language is becoming increasingly important, more so in future, where individuals will have added advantage if there are able to speak more languages.
"As a father, I want what is best for my children and I am am glad my girl (the second of three siblings) have keen interest to learn Mandarin and study in a vernacular school,” he added.
A total of 284 pupils begin schooling at the school for the current session.
Mohd Zaidi, who is also Umno Permatang Pauh division chief, said his eldest child, nine-year-old, also spoke fluent Mandarin but did not opt for vernacular school.
Altogether, a total of 20,972 Year One pupil began the new school term this session statewide.