Yes, that is the President of Costa Rica visiting our school! Inspired by our school’s rich history of Peace as well as our national reputation for excellence, the President and First Laady enjoyed playing and visiting with our students during a surprise trip to see our community’s recovery after Tropical Storm Nate. He even got to sidestep a poisonous snake in our driveway!
Since his visit, our students have been engaged in many forms of activism, such as:
- Sit-in: In solidarity with students all over the US, our students organized a 17-minute sit-in: one minute for each victim in the Florida shooting. See photos here on our blog.
Rally: In response to an alarming rise of intolerance and violence right here in Costa Rica, students organized a human rights rally – see here for photos.
Elections: To learn more about the current Costa Rican presidential elections, students studied the electoral system then had their own school leadership elections.
Speaking of being active, thank you to many more donors who have brought us to within $6,000 of our $76,000 goal for next year’s Financial Aid fund! Our deadline for next year’s fund is March 31 (so we can make commitments to families). If you would like to help guarantee assistance for every local child in need, please donate online or by check from our website’s donation page. Gracias a todos!
One more thing: we are looking for a highschool math teacher to start in August. Please refer the wonderful teachers in your life to: https://mfschool.org/employment/
New Design for Grades 11/12 and Gap Years
After an inclusive consultative process led by a committee of students, graduates, teachers and administration, the School Committee has approved a re-design of our program in the final years to better serve the diverse needs and goals of our students.
And how diverse they are! Some students aim to continue studies at colleges in the US or abroad (requiring grade 12 and SAT’s) while the majority prefer a Costa Rican university (which technically only requires grade 11, the national “Bachi” exam, and the local university entrance exams). Others still pursue careers in art, tourism or other vocations. How do we serve everyone and show them that, as we deeply believe, the grade 12 year is of extreme value for everyone?
“Our program will provide students the opportunity for self reflection and a supportive guiding community to test the waters and explore what life has to offer.”
By virtue of being a small school, we realize we can provide custom education plans. At the end of grade 10, each student will be counselled to identify their interests and passions, then we will work together to develop an individual plan to prepare them for whatever comes after. Some factors we will consider include:
- Should they take the national Bachi exam after grade 11 or 12?
- Should extra attention be paid to help prepare for SAT’, ACT, TOEFEL, local university entrance exams, or other tests?
- Are there internships or projects that can help shape their education experience?
- Are there additional courses we can offer, perhaps online or in partnership with other institutions, to round out their education?
- How can we help research appropriate colleges (and financial aid) or work opportunities to apply for after graduation, and give graduates the skills to submit strong applications?
We also recognize that our Gap Year program, which has been providing a similarly rich and individualized growth experience for foreign graduates, can be a key part of this picture for local students also. Graduates often have to wait over half a year before their university begins – an ideal opportunity to further prepare themselves, brush up on academics, and test the waters of their intended profession through targetted volunteer/internship opportunities.
The school committee continues to affirm that MFS is a K-12 school and that grade 12 is an important time to complete students’ education and preparation for the next steps. We are excited by this heightened recognition of our capacity and responsibility to honor each student’s unique interests and passions by customizing their final years with us.
Summer Camp 2018
The theme for this summer’s children’s camp is “Celebrating Our Culture.” Join Marisela to enjoy local food, culture, outings to the cloud-forest or coffee/chocolate farm, traditional songs and games, and lots of friends. July 2-6 (ages 3-5), July 9-13 and 16-20 (ages 6-13)
For older youth, Far Corners is excited to offer dance classes from June 4 – June 29 (3 hours/week) , then a performance intensive from July 2 – July 21 with performances on July 19, 20, and 21. Available to all ages and abilities, aged 9 and older.
Focus on Friends – Eugenio Vargas
“The more I live, the more gratitude I feel.”
When Eugenio joined the administration team 3 years ago, he completed a circle that began way back in 1970. As a grade 6 graduate in San Luis with no local high school (only one family in San Luis had managed to send a child to the high school in Puntarenas) , Eugenio walked up the mountain twice a week to study English at MFS with Molly Figuerola.
After 2 years in that program, Eugenio was awarded a scholarship to enter the grade 7 class, studying alongside folk such as Benito Guindon, Yvonne Rockwell, Lidieth Wallace Guindon, and Martha & Luziana Brenes. Why did he choose this path? “I always wanted to read, always wanted another book, and this made me curious to learn more about the world.”
At that time, our school was not certified by the Ministry of Education (we are now), so Eugenio completed his studies in San Jose, after which he studied religion in a Catholic seminary, French at Alliance Francais, and Business Management courses a UNED , and taught religion at a high school. Then he asked himself, “Do I want to have a family in San Jose? Donde, donde…?”
Thankfully for us, his answer was “No”, and he returned to the mountain, where he connected with MFS teacher Ann Kriebel to start a program in San Luis promoting literacy, art, health care, child care, community gardening and nutrition. He also helped found and lived on Buen Amigo co-operative farm for 12 years. He later worked at the Monteverde Institute for 15 years, 4 years at University of Georgia campus in San Luis, and collaborated on some book translation projects before joining the admin team at MFS.
Once again through our Financial Aid program, 3 of Eugenio’s 5 children studied at MFS, where he found the values to be aligned his beliefs. “The MFS values are part of the Quaker tradition but go beyond, can be lived anywhere in the world.” Two of these children continued to college in the US and the third to university in Costa Rica, on almost full scholarship thanks to their MFS education.
“Some families do not at first understand the good values, the ways the school goes beyond education to help stimulate the student from early on to become a good person, with respect and tolerance. This goes beyond just preparing for SAT’s or university admissions tests.
But in the end what is important is that each of these boys and girls will at some point realize the richness of having been here. For me, after I was away for a long time I became more aware of the enriching impact on my life of having studied here.”