When they arrived at the main stage, each class arranged itself around a pole with it's name, topped with a cluster of blue and white balloons where they ate the ever-popular chocolate sandwiches and drank grape juice from little packets (both oh so traditional and oh so unhealthy). There were then a few (uniformly boring) speeches by local politicians and educational leaders, and then the children sang and danced to traditional folk dance music. When it was over, they released all of the balloons, which looked very festive (I'm trying hard not to dwell on the environmental ramifications). After that it was ice pops and group pictures on the grass, then back to school for the rest of the morning.
Tomorrow Itai's class is gathering at the local monument to Israel's fallen soldiers to lay flowers and honor their sacrifice.
And as a culturally interesting side note, we first heard of all of these events two days before, via a note home which instructed us to "put the children in white shirts and get them to school by 8:00", and by the way parents can come watch if they like. No permission slips, no big deal made out of anything. I don't mind particularly, in fact it's pretty refreshing. The degree of care and attention paid during the actual event was no less, but the overall stress and paranoia level was much lower. It's one of the things I like most about living here actually.