Special Events at Monteverde Friends School
Special Events are highlights of the year. Because we are a small school, and as a result of the strong ties between the school and the community, these events are often accompanied by an extra element of involvement and enthusiasm. These events are listed in chronological order, from the beginning of the school year in August. For the specific day it will happen this year, check the School Calendar.
Día de Los Niños or Children’s Day, similar to Mother’s or Father’s Day; the 9th of September is set aside in Costa Rica to honor children. Instead of a day of classes students have the opportunity to enjoy activities such as face painting, relay races, theater games, and treats.
On September 14th, the Torch of Freedom arrives in Cartago, which was the colonial capital of Costa Rica. This symbolic torch represents Central America’s independence from Spain, and every year it makes its way from Guatemala (where independence was declared) to Costa Rica by relay teams. Student runners take the torch out through the night from Cartago to arrive at schools all across the country. Students from MFS participate in running our torch up the mountain, with even the youngest children helping to carry it the last few steps to our school.
On September 15th, we celebrate Costa Rican Independence Day. Children from MFS often participate in the community parade, dancing, singing songs, and carrying banners encouraging people to reflect on what freedom means.
Talent Night showcases music and acts of our students and community. Last year some acts included the 3rd and 4th graders playing their recorders, a group of colegio students playing violins with their science teacher, and elder members of the community sharing songs and stories for young children. Parents from the school make pizzas to sell, which earns this event its other name: Pizza Night.
While many countries in North and South America set aside a day in October to honor Christopher Columbus, Costa Rica celebrates Culture Day, in recognition of all the peoples who form part of Costa Rica’s unique culture. At MFS we celebrate this day by exploring the world’s cultures. Activities might include learning a folk dance, playing “Pin the Smile on the Mona Lisa”, sampling traditional foods from Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, or learning how to count to ten in Japanese.
Abolition of the Army Day:
On December 1, 1948 Costa Rican President José Figueres abolished the army after the end of a civil war. It was this action that caused the Quaker founders of Monteverde to consider Costa Rica as a place to establish their peaceful community. On this day, we consider the history of Costa Rica and how to resolve conflicts nonviolently.
The second annual parent fundraising event, the Christmas Fair, takes place in early December. It is an opportunity to purchase holiday gifts from local artisans, listen to local music, eat delicious food, enjoy the school community, and support the school, all at the same time. Local artists donate a percentage of their sales to the school and in turn gain community-wide exposure and support through an opportunity to sell their goods.
Other Christmas Events:
At the end of semester, students celebrate with a Christmas Program, featuring student presentations of song and dance. The Monteverde Friends Meeting organizes other events during the Christmas season, including singing carols each Sunday in November and December, having a Christmas Program and Wassail, and Meeting for Worship on Christmas, followed by a special dinner and home-made gift exchange.
The third of the annual parent fundraisers for the school takes place in February. Activities for the community include soccer matches, zumba, yoga, water balloon games, horse rides, massage, tennis, volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee. Parents are actively involved in buying, sending in, preparing, grilling and selling food, helping with the activities, cleaning, washing dishes, and more.
On these days in February and March, students give back to our community through service. Students work on service projects at the school and in the community with their teachers and volunteers from the community. Primary students are involved in such projects as: making and posting signs to educate the community about good pet care, visiting the local public schools and working with their students to pick up trash, and participating in activities with elderly adults. Colegio (7th-12th grade) students have done house maintenance for elderly or needy members of the community, cleared ditches and helped maintain deteriorated sections of dirt roads, and helped pick up trash in the Monteverde area.
The Caminata, or Walkathon, the last of the four annual parent fundraisers, takes place in March or April. Together we walk 13 very hilly kilometers (8 miles) from the school to the overlook at San Gerardo where, if the clouds cooperate, walkers are rewarded with a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano. Each walker is responsible for contacting sponsors locally and abroad to support him or her. As with all the parent fundraisers, the funds raised go to art, theatre, music, and physical education programs for the school.
On April 19th we commemorate the day when the first members of the Quaker scouting group arrived on the mountain that was to be named Monteverde. The Monteverde Friends community usually gathers for a picnic, sharing of stories, and, of course, a rousing rendition of the Monteverde song, written in 1954, “Oh Monteverde, our Monteverde! Your skies so blue and grass so green all year! Oh Monteverde, our Monteverde! Your lovely views make you to us more dear!”
At the end of the school year, we hold a special Meeting for Worship in which each grade is given the opportunity to speak. While the meeting can last several hours, the thoughts and gratitude offered by students, parents, teachers, and community members serve to weave our community together.
Graduations: We celebrate three annual graduations: Prepa, 6th grade, and 12th grade. The Prepa graduation recognizes the end of students’ three years in the Kinder program and their transition to first grade. The 6th grade graduation is part of the End of the Year Program and celebrates the end of their Primary career and their entrance into the Colegio.
The 12th grade graduation is traditionally held during the day at the Meeting House. In 2011, however, it was held outdoors at the Campbell farm. The graduates create the ceremony as befits their vision of this occasion. Time is given for worship sharing at the beginning of the ceremony. The director then speaks about each student and invites each one to come forward and address those gathered. Graduates have chosen to speak about their experiences at the school and their families, read poetry, and played guitar and sung. Teachers are invited to come forward and join with the director in receiving the new graduates. Worship sharing takes place again at the end of the graduation ceremony.
In the evening, families and friends of the graduates are invited to a dinner. In some years the graduates prepare a slide show and invite teachers to speak. Our small graduating classes allows for the growth and accomplishments of each graduate to be appreciated and celebrated.