From: Monteverde Friends School <>

Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 6:43 PM


Subject: MFS April Newsletter: Finding the Good in Uncertain Times


Monteverde Friends School/ Escuela de los Amigos Monteverde

Newsletter, April 2020


Glimmers of Good While Living in Uncertainty

Somehow, life continues in the midst of the pandemic. This beautiful bush at the school outdoes itself with blooms in our absence. To our knowledge, no one in Monteverde has the virus -- but official numbers say that over 80% of local people are unemployed since tourists have disappeared. Online classes and exercises for students continue. Costa Rica has strict stay-at-home orders through May 15th and we are waiting to hear whether that will be extended. We hope there's at least a week of in-person school in May so that we can celebrate our graduates from kindergarten, 6th grade and high school.


Looking a bit further ahead, MFS has an existential question: Can we find a way to function in the new school year that starts in August when hardly anyone can pay tuition? Can we serve anywhere near the 120 students now enrolled? Can we keep our teachers and staff?

In case you missed it, Sue Gabrielson, Head of School, gives a more detailed description of the school's situation in her recent video update. We'll keep you posted on what plans we come up with, and what the school will look like in August.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of happier stories about how our supporters are starting special initiatives for us, how a soon-to-graduate MFS 12th grader is integrating an apprenticeship building a carbon-neutral cargo ship with his studies, and how two young students are producing a weekly newspaper while we all stay home.


A huge thank you to those who have already given -- and to those who
want to help us further!

British Friends Developing a Network of Support: Two British Friends have offered to organize a network of British Friends to support MFS. This is in start-up mode, so those who join them now can help shape what that effort becomes. Interested supporters in Britain can contact Ted Brown or Jonathan Doering to join that network.

MFUS GoFundMe Campaign to help families raise tuition funds: Our U.S. partners have put together a Go Fund Me campaign to employ out-of-work local MFS parents to plant trees with the Monteverde Institute and have their pay credited to MFS for tuition.
Follow the link to learn more. We've met our initial goal but donations are still welcome!

And thanks to our art teacher, Edda Pacheco, for the beautiful artwork.


12th grader Eli Makynen

Progress on the ship Cebia.

Building a Carbon-Neutral Cargo Ship For MFS Academic Credits

How do we find our careers? So often, it happens seemingly by accident -- someone we meet, something we run across that inspires us. That's how it happened for MFS twelfth-grader Eli Makynen.

Born in Canada, he moved to Costa Rica to live with his dad who is a joint-owner of the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. As Eli puts it, "No one turns down an opportunity to live in the jungle!" With recommendations from friends whose children had attended MFS, his family selected MFS for his schooling, and he has attended the school since 6th grade.

By 10th grade, Eli knew that hands-on, concrete tasks inspired him far more than book learning. About that time, his family happened to have a welder working for them. Eli got fascinated with what the welder was doing, and offered to "do the heavy lifting" for the man if he would teach Eli his craft. Eli bought a welding kit and worked alongside the man. That was the start of a great mentoring relationship that continues to this day as they still work together.

Meanwhile, Eli heard of Sailcargo, Inc.'s fascinating project to build Ceiba, a carbon-neutral, timber frame sailboat for shipping cargo along the Pacific side of the Americas. He wrote an email to the company that led to serving a 5-week internship with them during the summer of 2019.

He also knew that MFS offers the option for 12th graders to tailor their curriculum to incorporate an apprenticeship or other creative learning. So he set to work and presented a proposal to the Head of School to replace and modify his classes while continuing to work on the ship. For his math class, he is making presentations on the "lofting" for the ship (incredibly detailed, full scale architectural specifications for the ship); for science, he is involved with planting trees near the shipyard and the science behind reforesting; for English class he helps teach English to internationals who are also working on the ship.

The architect's image of the finished ship.

And with all that, he continues to work on the ship, developing his skills not only in welding but in carpentry and even blacksmithing. Plus,he works with people from all walks of life and from all around the world.

Eli is deeply grateful that he attends a school that is small and personalized, offering the flexibility for him to pursue his interests. We wish him a great career in the trades!


Budding Journalists Hone Their Skills

No idle hands around here!

School may not be meeting, but Ana (3rd grade) and Byrdie (5th grade) Tyx have been busy producing a neighborhood newspaper each week. It helps that their dad, Daniel Tyx (our 12th grade English teacher) worked as a journalist and can give them some tips. Some of the articles take a scientific bent, not unexpected since their mom Laura Nikstad is our high school science teacher.

Each issue of the paper has included articles, op-ed pieces, local weather, games and original cartoons.

Editing and publishing the newspaper teaches all sorts of lessons, from English to art to interviewing skills. One of the toughest lessons, though, has been that when they interview someone, their reporting has to reflect what that person said -- even when it is not what the journalist would like them to say.

All of us in the neighborhood look forward to each new issue!


We hope that those less affected by the pandemic will help us as we struggle to continue the Monteverde Friends School's almost 70 year tradition of excellent, bilingual education based on Quaker values.

For tax deductible donations in the U.S. and Canada:

       United States: Donate to the GoFundMe campain, or donate online or by sending a check to Eliza Beardslee, Monteverde Friends U.S., P.O. Box 1308, Greenfield, MA 01302

       Canada: donate through Paypal online, through Interac e-transfer addressed to or by check mailed to MEF, PO Box 21, Saturna, BC V0N 2Y0