Do We Deserve to Be GZAAT Students?


“Ისეთივე ქრისტიანები ხართ, როგორიც გივი ზალდასტანიშვილის აკადემიის მოსწავლეები”. These are the wise words of Mr. Levan Ghambashidze that inspired this article. One time when last year's sophomores covered Christianity in Mr. Levan's class, the discussion got out of hand, ending with talking about our school's history. Students, along with Mr. Levan, soon realized that almost none of us knew anything about Guivy Zaldastanishvili and Donald Thomas, the founders of our school. They were one of the first in Georgia to break out of the narrow-minded method of teaching of the Soviet Union and reinforce interactive classrooms and critical and creative thinking.

Like every other student, I, too, felt ashamed of this realization and decided to learn more about this topic. As it turns out, only a couple of years ago, instead of Junior high, the small space of the school was used for assembly meetings. And it was a tradition that every year, the students of GZAAT would gather in the then assembly room and watch a documentary about our school's history and its founders. Unfortunately, after creating Junior High, this incredible tradition was neglected.

One of the leading creators of this movie is our school's music teacher, Miss Lika Asatiani, with whom I had the pleasure of talking and gaining more information about the movie. Miss Lika has worked in numerous places and with various interesting people in the filmmaking and audio engineering industry.

"Everything started with my elective class, for seniors. We started teaching filmmaking a long time ago, in the school's previous building," says Miss Lika. She explained that a form of the senior project that the students had at the end of the year was that they had to make a film. She mentioned that the whole course is quite interesting since they offer a simulation of the whole process of filmmaking.

As she told me, her students had a big part in filming the documentary. Of course, the whole school staff was involved as well: "Miss Ia and the whole office helped us gather information, Mr. Tazo was helping us… Practically everyone, who could contribute in any way. Otherwise, we would be unable to finish the project". She remembered the year 2012: "the alumni of this class were so interested and enthusiastic; these were amazing children who helped the whole school and me to make this project come true. I must mention their dedication to this project, they worked even when they weren't obligated to". Something is fascinating about how the idea of a film was born because of the elective course Miss Lika teaches.

One of the main difficulties Miss Lika and others encountered was gathering the information. "The main source was our archives. But the difficulty was that the immense material that was in our hands, was unnamed, completely disorganized. We had to go through every single source".

Another great difficulty that they faced was the technological part of creating a movie. They didn't have a voice recording studio when putting the film together. Sometimes, Miss Lika and her students would gather at her house, where she has her own studio, to record material for the movie. Overall, the whole process was extremely difficult.

Miss Lika also told me about the contents of the film. First of all, she said they filmed two movies: one about the school's founders, concentrating on Mr. Donald Thomas, and another on the history of GZAAT. When Mr. Guivy came up with the idea, he searched for someone more experienced on the pedagogical side and found Mr. Don. "It is absolutely mesmerizing how these two people met each other," Miss Lika exclaimed. She also told me about the bit of an interview with Mr. Mamuka Khazaradze, who was the one who invested in Mr. Guivy's and Mr. Don's projects. Mr. Mamuka Khazaradze said that he decided to invest in this project because he felt he could trust these people. There was immense understanding and reliance between him, Mr. Guivy, and Mr. Donald.

Miss Lika and I also had a thorough conversation about Mr. Don. She told me that he is an incredibly interesting person. He founded another school in Africa; while he himself works in Boston. "He is a representation of the peak of pedagogy." But their movie concentrated more on Mr. Don and Mr. Guivy's impact on Georgia. "I am talking about the dark ages of Georgia. It is fascinating how they contributed to turning this place into something so bright, where students like you have the opportunity to not only learn, but also grow as a person and study how to form relationships with others".

She also told me that there isn't a film about Mr. Guivy. However, there is an agreement that after finishing the building of the new assembly room, Miss Lika will get the opportunity to have her own studio, where she wants to continue teaching her elective class. And one of the first projects she wants to get on with is filming the documentary about Mr. Guivy Zaldastanishvili.

Finally, we discussed our mutual desire to continue the tradition of screening movies about our school's incredible history. Hopefully, it will be within easy reach, with our new assembly room.


Edited by: Natashka Nakaidze

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