Halfway down to the school, Lazuo says she's a bit tired, but says she's used to the climb. I observe she hasn't even broken a sweat. Her older brother Xiongti says that he sometimes makes two or three round trips up and down the mountain in a day and thinks nothing of it.  After three hours, we finally make it down to the school, a simple, two-story concrete building that has just been given a fresh paint Eyeliner Pencil Packaging.

Lazuo is only going into the fourth grade this year, as her parents kept her at home until they felt she was old enough to make the trek down the mountain to school.   "I'm sad to be leaving my family," she says wistfully, "but happy that school's starting again."   The kids stay in dorms during the week. On weekends, they usually head back home up the mountain.

 

But since Chinese media reported about the village in June, local officials are under pressure to keep the kids from making the trek too often.   The group heads down the mountain in single file, the children wearing knapsacks. Some of the smaller kids are attached to their parents by ropes, for safety's sake. Most of the kids have made the trip so many times they've lost count.  

 

Kids and parents are busy registering, getting health checkups and moving into spartan dorm rooms. Chinese donors who were moved by past media reports about the kids unload vans packed with new furniture for the school and supplies for the students.Their donations have allowed the school to enroll 50 or 60 more students than last semester, school principal Jike Wuda tells me. That makes a total of about 250 students in grades one through four.