The Chefs

The SCCS Omelette is the product of the Media Writing Class for the first semester of the 2011-2012 school year comprised of Ximena Fagan, Andrea Gutierrez, Lucia Landivar, Nicolas Handal, Sebastian Vedia, Manuel Saavedra, Nicolas Aguirre, and Fernando Monasterio. Instructor and Blogmaster: David Boldt. (Address all complaints and suggestions to To read more items on the "Omelette," including profiles of new teachers and staff, Middle School Medieval Day, and much, much more, go to

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Global Issues Network Conference

GIN Conference attendees during a day at the Zoo studying biodiversity.

Making the World Better
. . . 20 Solutions at a Time

By Ximena Fagan and Andrea Gutierrez

Ten Santa Cruz Cooperative School students selected through a competitive process will be attending a Global Issues Network (GIN) student conference taking place at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt School in Lima, Peru starting October 2, 2011.

 GIN is an organization that brings together teenagers all over the world to try to find solutions to the major issues they will face in their lifetimes. The hope is that they can unite as a single community and work on building a better future.  GIN was inspired by the book “High Noon: 20 Global Problems and 20 Years to Solve Them” by Frenchman John-Francois Rischard, former World Bank vice-president for Europe.

The author breaks the 20 issues into three groups. Group One (sharing our planet) includes global warming, biodiversity, deforestation, and pollution. Group Two (sharing our humanity) includes poverty, peacekeeping, education, and disease Group Three (sharing our rule book) includes biotechnology, international finance, intellectual property rights, and migration rules. 

     Schools that participate in the Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA) will attend the Lima conference. It is designed to bring together students from all over the continent to work for a good cause hand-in-hand with their teachers. This conference involves people from many different backgrounds, and allows everyone to practice being leaders. The students from each school have the opportunity to showcase action projects from their schools that address one of the critical global issues. Eight countries will be represented in this conference.
      Santa Cruz Cooperative School has the privilege to participate in this prestigious conference this year for the first time. Librarian Rebecca Battistioni offered her time and energy to guide the students, which is appropriate since Battistoni engineered SCCS’ participation in GIN. She heard about GIN when she traveled to Brazil to attend the AASSA teachers conference, and GIN conference came up.  She believed that SCCS students would enjoy taking part.  

After she returned, she asked the school´s director, William McKelligott if she could put the group together, and, without hesitation, he agreed. To join the group students had to pass through two phases of the selection process. The first consisted of a short application. Battistoni said, “It was difficult to narrow the number of students, because I believe many had done an excellent job on their applications.” In phase two, high school principal Nicholaas Mostert and Battistoni interviewed the students who survived phase one, and chose the ones they believed would contribute most to the GIN group. “We were looking for students that have excellent English speaking skills and would be dedicated to the project. We chose students who will represent SCCS in the best possible way”, said Battistoni.
The twelve students finally chosen include six seniors: Jorge Melgar, Samuel Melgar, Carla Limpias, Ana Paula Peredo, Sofia Sotelo, and Maria Velasco; five juniors: Anna Sophia Rivero, Maria FernandaVillegas, Hyun Kim, Paola Querejazu, and Karolina Guzman; and one sophomore, Jorge Zankis. Jorge Melgar and Jorge Zankis were ultimately unable to make the trip because of schedule conflicts.  

       After the team was created, biodiversity in Bolivia was chosen as the topic the group would present at the conference. Over the past few months the group has worked closely with the Santa Cruz Zoo, learning about and helping to clean the environments for the animals there. In the process the students “learned how important it was to preserve many different aspects of the animals’ natural habitat,” said Ms Battistoni. The students later served as tour guides for people enjoying a day at the zoo. The group has also done fundraisers like bake sales to raise money for the trip.  

The participants are looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join this prestigious organization’s efforts to find solutions to global problems, while also learning more about their own country. They are eager to be part of this effort to bring together youth to focus on these problems, and are already putting to use the philosophy expressed in the GIN slogan, “Building New Futures by Breaking Old Habits.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An added attraction

New Administration Building 
Presents Opportunities for SCCS

By Manuel Saavedra  and Sebastian Vedia

         There were many questions and rumors going around after the school purchased the house next to the school as the new administration building, so we went to the site of the building in search for some answers.

The questions and rumors were not necessarily worries. Soccer players, for one example, were relieved the school had bought this property because now they could kick soccer balls over the fence into this property -- without having the concern it would come back with a knife hole in it as happened on at least one occasion.

 But what other advantages did it bring for the school? What, exactly was going to go on there?

As we entered the new building we observed an old fashioned construction with a beautiful old fountain in the middle of a courtyard with water cascading onto rocks. This building was built in the 1970s as a residence and it still looks like a home, but now the school has made some changes that made it look more like other buildings on campus – pleasant, but businesslike. The courtyard opens onto offices for the business, administration, and admission offices, as well as the office of Director William McKelligott.  

 The two-story building has many rooms adequate for small offices, as well as a kitchen for the staff members who work there. There are several bathrooms for the use of staff and visitors. Currently, there are masons workings their fixing the garden and painting the building white. They are also building a fence that matches the barrier surrounding the rest of our campus, so that outsiders realize the property now belongs to Santa Cruz Cooperative School.

 We were hospitably welcomed into Director William McKelligott’s new office by the Director himself to visit with him and discuss the new building.  He was eager to help us answer the questions we had.   McKelligott began by telling us that there is one disadvantage to the new arrangement in that he felt isolated from the school. In his previous office he had the opportunity to go out and interact more easily with the student body. He said he very much enjoyed going out in the morning before school to greet students and have short conversations, which is harder in his new, slightly more remote, location.
         Despite this drawback, which he is working on ways to overcome, he very much likes the new office.  McKelligott is the central presence in the new building, and the meeting rooms and other facilities help him to meet the demands for flexibility imposed on him. “My agenda can change many times throughout the day,” he said. “These changes are due to either security issues, problems with students or parents, meetings with teachers, business affairs of the school, and even the US embassy. He says, “I’m all over the place, OK?”  He attends to about ten meetings a day.

     The director believes the school made a good decision buying this house, which is located on 2800 square meters of property. The building looks large from the outside, but inside it seems modest in scale, with much of the interior space taken up by the bright and airy courtyard attractively decorated with student art work.

     For the people who work there it is a welcome change from the cramped and relatively dark quarters the offices occupied in the ground floor of a high school classroom building. Maritza Chavarria, who is perhaps the most well known person in the business office in her capacity as the person who collects payments from parents, said, “We feel much more comfortable at this new building.”

            This building not only made more space for the school but also opened up office space for a new position, the school improvement director. This position has been filled by Bruna Bellani, from Cochabamba. She is the ideal person for the job because she has a lot of experience in the field. She worked in New York City and Arizona in some of the top-rated schools in the US.  She has worked in schools for 28 years. Her job at SCCS is to help students achieve success in terms of both long and short term goals.  

The main reason the school bought this land was for the extra space that was needed on campus. The school enrolls just under 600 students and there are many demands for added facilities. More space does not necessarily mean more students. It means, among other things, expansion of the fields and playing areas. For example, the school is planning to expand the recreational space for the elementary students because the current area they have behind their building is too small. Some of the space will come from the grounds of the new administration building.

The school is also planning to tearing down one of the high school buildings that contained the former administrative offices to construct a new three-story building that will have a theatre, fine arts rooms, and maybe even house an indoor pool. The school has already made plans to start this project, though no firm dates have been set.

It’s all part of a continuing plan to make SCCS not only bigger, but better.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Middle School Medieval Fair Pictures

Middle School Medieval Day Story

Knights and Damsels Battle

For Honor, Glory -- and Fun

By Lucia Landivar

    Maid Natalia of Medina representing the White House looked determined. But then so did Maid Naira of Rodriguez, who was fighting for the Black House, as they both charged down the track wearing cardboard horses on straps from their shoulders, and aiming long, white PVC “lances” at a small tire suspended above the track midway between them.

     Both girls’ lances skewered the tire simultaneously and the two maids began a desperate struggle to take possession of it from the other. The two galloped together out onto the soccer field, each being urged on by their partisans.

     “I’m scared,” said a sixth grade boy as the girls battled ferociously.

    “I think it’s a little dangerous,” commented a worried Hudson Thurston, one of the teachers who organized the Medieval Day together with athletic director Alvaro Ludueña.
     “This is definitely not baseball,” said Seth Gibson, another teacher who was helping to supervise.

     Finally, Patrick St. Amand, the teacher in charge of the event, called a halt – just as eighth grade Natalia Medina broke free with the ring to the dismay of classmate Naira Rodriguez. There was a protest and a rematch.

    “Whoa, I’m out of here,” said teacher-spectator Kirk Dahlberg, as soon as he heard about the rematch.

     That was more or less the way it went throughout  Medieval Day on Sept 21 when the Middle School students, divided into three “kingdoms” or “houses”  (Black, Red, and White), spent a full day competing in games, contests, and competitions for best choreography, costumes, coats of arms, and royalty – all with a medieval theme. The competition was fierce, but all in fun.

     “The main purpose of Medieval Day was to raise school spirit by sharing and having a good time between students from different grades, without leaving behind the opportunity to gain some knowledge out of it,” said Ludueña, who thought up the idea.

      He wanted to build on the “House” systems implemented last year to improve the links of friendship between middle school classes, and give the middle school a more coherent identity. The medieval theme gave the event a twist that made it distinctive from the usual “sports days” of the past.
       The “medieval” theme offered the opportunity for students to dress up as kings, queens, knights, and other characters of the medieval era, and participate in assorted competitions involving this era somehow.  And it seemed to work. Roberto Maureria from 8th grade had been putting lots of effort over the preceding three weeks in making costumes out of recycled materials and designing a coat of arms on a banner that would lead the White Kingdom in battle.  On the day of the event Maureria and his teammates were anxious for the games to begin. “I really do believe my house has a huge chance to win today” said Maureira.
     His confidence was well placed. Although no one seemed to be paying much attention to the score during the day – they were concentrating more on having fun – the White House did win the overall award in results announced several days later, though not by much. White amassed 1600 points, winning six of the fifteen events including best coat of arms. The Red House was second with 1500 points, and victories in five of the events. The Black House trailed by a narrow margin, with 1350 points and wins in four events.
      For the opening ceremonies the three houses paraded into the gymnasium in sequence while judges assessed the banners, coats of arms, mascots, dance routines, costumes, and general enthusiasm. Indeed, enthusiasm seemed more important than authenticity. The dances, for example, seemed to owe their inspiration more to Radio Disney than King Arthur’s Court.

“Medieval Fair” features games of a different sort 

     The rest of the morning consisted of groups of students representing each house rotating from one activity to another at various locations in the coliseum testing their ability to throw, hit, or toss assorted objects at various targets – all with a medieval theme. The model was the “fairs” of medieval times.

      The knights and damsels were ready for action, cheering on their kingdom, sweating, and jumping up and down. “Faster, you can do it!,”one could hear shouted as the gym became one big chaotic battlefield. Some of the advice was specific:  “Strike the eye of the dragon, and control that sword!” was the cry at one venue. Other admonishments were more general, such as “Hurry, hurry, hurry!”

      The “towers” game was definitely a favorite between the students. Combatants from the seventh grade Red Kingdom described the game as “fun and creative, because we all had to figure out ways to carry as many boxes as our bodies could” across a plank “bridge,” and then into a cardboard “castle.” There the next player would have to pick them all up – and add more – as fast as possible and return. The trick was to stack the boxes systematically rather than carry them in a jumble.
     “Hitting the dragon with the axes was so cool. We acted as if we were Cinderella, and the guys were our knights in shining armor. In the end we all laughed at our interpretations of princesses,” explained seventh grade girls while chuckling and giggling as they hurled cardboard rubber axes at a papier mache dragon’s head. (The axes and dragon were made in art class.) Teacher Rocky Canelas was in a frenzy trying to count the number of “hits” scored by the hail of axes.

     “The horseshoe game was amazing, everyone got excited, and we all started shouted as loud as we could to cheer on the players. We did more physical work in this game, since the horseshoes were a little heavy,” said Raul Cabral from sixth grade. The goal of the game was to toss horseshoes into a metal paint bucket set on a gym mat: the bucket was half filled with sand to weigh it down and stabilize it, but it took a beating as did the gym mats.

     Students also threw crowns, fired balls at targets using small catapults, and launched rubber-tipped arrows from miniature crossbows at fake mice. “We were always bickering about who went first in every game,” said excited eighth grader, Gilberto Chavez.

     The finale of the games inside the coliseum was the “Save the Damsel” challenge. This game involved a small obstacle course that six knights from each kingdom had to walk and crawl through in turn to reach a cage composed of two small soccer goals lashed together with six cable bicycle locks. A “damsel” was imprisoned inside the goals.  “Faster, use your arms!” screamed the knights of the Black Kingdom, as a brave fighter did a low crawl under a net, and arrived at a cage.

     On arriving at the cage each knight had to overcome his nerves to figure out which lock his key would open. The knights often had to try each lock before he found the right one. Another complication was that the keys were on ribbons that tended to get enmeshed in the netting of the goals. Once the knight had opened his lock he had to run back to the beginning, and give the keys to the next courageous knight from his kingdom. The damsel was “freed” when all six locks were opened. The Red House won by completing the challenge in the shortest amount of time.

On to the Jousting Field

     After a lunch break the afternoon events in the soccer field started.  Sixth grader Jose Carlos Paz declared these “the best part of Medieval Day,” and many students seemed to agree. Paz at the time was wiping off shaving cream that represented his “wounds” from one of the events.

     The first game consisted of a group of girls from each kingdom participating in a sand castle contest. Each group had 20 minutes to build a castle, which was judged by middle school teachers, Nancy Maya and Kirk Dahlberg.

      Then came the most amusing event of the day, Damsel Jousting, started. (This was the game where Medina and Rodriguez had their clashes.)  “It was one of the funniest and exciting competitions of the day!” said Jose Mario Zambrana from seventh grade. “Go, go, go, go, go,” shouted spectators on the bleachers as the pairs of maids charged toward one another. Cries of “Yes!” greeted each successful skewering of the small tire by a plastic pipe lance.   Spectators shouted for victory or vengeance as the process of elimination advanced.
     “This is more stressful than teaching,” said St. Amand, the organizer, as he strove to keep order.  

       After the Damsel Jousting came the almost equally entertaining “Knight Battles.” This competition consisted of two players from different houses standing on small platforms a short distance apart, and trying to knock the opponent off his platform with sticks that had cloth-covered sponges at each end. Each knight wore a helmet and hitting an opponent in the head was prohibited.  The crowd shouted helpful hints to their teammates as to where to hit the opponent next.
      “The battle was harder than it looked, but I was victorious,” said Lorenzo Monasterio from eighth grade after successfully knocking his opponent off the box.  
      Finally, the Knight Jousting competition took place. This was similar to the Damsel Jousting in that pairs of knights charged one another down a track, but this time the goal was to hit the opponent with a plate full of shaving cream. The knights wore protective glasses to keep the soapy foam out of their eyes.

      “I was nervous that my opponent was going to get shaving cream on my horse, my body, or worse, my face,” said eighth grader Richard Salvatierra, whose horse did get a lethal splattering of foam. “I was sad when that happened, since I lost possible points for my kingdom,” he said.

     Once the day was over, the staff and the students seemed satisfied with the outcome of the Medieval Day. Everyone had the chance to get away from the usual to experience a carefree day in which many new friendships were built, and many new things were learned. Many students and teachers did agree that t would be good to add some water games to future competitions if the weather was as hot next time. .
     But at least the competitors hadn’t had to wear real suits of armor. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pride Week

´Spirit Week´shows Jaguar Pride in Style
By Nicolas Aguirre and Nicolas Handal
The SCCS student government, known as STUCO, gave all middle and high school students a chance to show off their school pride by participating in a week-long series of special “dress” days between August 29 and September 2.
The week also included a pep rally at which the band played spirited anthems and student leaders urged students to turn out for the Santa Cruz Interscholastic League soccer and volleyball games, which also started that week.
The Jaguars are the defending champions in all four varsity competitions ---  boys and girls varsity soccer, and boys and girls varsity volleyball -- but this year the teams will need all the support they can get from students and parents.
A third purpose of the Pride Week program was to allow a competition between the three houses into which the High School has been divided, named after the school colors – Red, Black and White.  The more students each house had participating in the costuming activity the more points it received. Red finished first, with black and white tying for second.
To start the week off, students arrived on Monday in “business attire,” which usually meant jacket and tie. On Tuesday, the dress code was anything as long as it was red-and-white.  Wednesday was “punk” day. Thursday students wore jerseys of their favorite sports team. Friday everyone wore their House’s color – black, red, or white.
There were some outstanding costumes. STUCO treasurer Samuel Melgar probably “won” the punk competition with a greasy Mohican hair style and excessive use of mascara that would have made him a credit to any punk band. Dean Kenneth Davis had the most esoteric sports jersey – an authentic uniform shirt from the Cleveland Indians baseball team, his home town team. 
Friday was also a day of friendly and entertaining competitions involving throwing water balloons (without breaking them), teamwork activities, and dancing. (Students picked their own dance style, and if they heard different drummers, well, that was all right, as long as they go the style right.
These days were full of laughter, and a lot of fun for everyone, there were hopes expressed that STUCO should organize more of this activities throughout the year, which STUCO president Francisco Roda promised he would do.
The ´spirit´ engendered by “Spirit Week” seemed to be working on the playing fields as well. The Jaguar varsities won all their games against Cambridge that week.          

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Habitat for Humanity

SCCS students help build a better future

By Lucia Landivar

            The SCCS bus arrived at the dusty construction site located on a flat piece of terrain outside La Guardia at about 8:30 in the morning. About 20 students, many really just waking up, tumbled out and began preparations for a day of building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
      There were at least 20 houses under construction, most about half-finished. When completed they would be sold to poor families who would pay $60 a month to acquire what for many of them would be the first decent housing they had ever lived in. The job of the SCCS students was to provide non-skilled labor to finish these houses, which were being built as part of the world-wide Habitat for Humanity (HFH) program.
   “Our main goal is to have an opportunity for meaningful community service”, said Hudson Thurston, the middle school teacher who is in charge of the program at the school,  after the first SCCS Habitat For Humanity build of the year. The “builds” will continue through the rest of the year taking place every few weeks.
    Habitat For Humanity is an international nonprofit organization that welcomes volunteers all around the world to eliminate substandard housing in their communities. Since 1976, HFH has constructed over 400,000 houses around the world, providing decent shelter for over 2 million people. SCCS is proud to be part of this effort.
Habitat For Humanity has building sites all over Bolivia, from La Paz to Santa Cruz. SCCS has worked in the Chiquitania, La Guardia, El Torno, and Cotoca. This year, students will spend most of their efforts in La Guardia.
 In SCCS, students and teachers work as volunteers along with construction workers (and the families who will eventually own the houses ). Students develop a sense of community service, and learn how to work hard. They also learn about partnership, and leadership skills.
SCCS started working with HFH many years ago, but the partnership was suspended for a few years. Three years ago, Mike Vandeloo who was working as SCCS’s school counselor, and Thurston contacted HFH and arranged to renew SCCS’ involvement in the program. Mr. Thurston and librarian Rebecca Battistioni are going to the builds with the high school students.
The  SCCS students work on several houses, digging  holes for septic tanks, moving bricks, tiles, leveling out the floors, and basically doing whatever needs to be done that doesn’t require training.  The students work alongside the masons and other skilled workers and help in any way they can.
It’s hard work. By midafternoon Estefania Sauto, a junior, was so tired and dusty that she said she was ready to go to sleep -- but she kept going.
Tae Ho Cho, another junior, said his arms were aching from taking wheelbarrow loads full of sand and tiles from place to place.
Girls quietly compared their new callouses on their otherwise nicely manicured hands.
 Thurston is pleased with the way the program has progressed. “In the past three years, I’ve done a couple dozen builds, and I’m always pleasantly surprised on how our students conduct themselves. They are very polite, and show very good manners with all the workers in the site,” says Thurston.  Students from ninth to twelfth grade come out and give their best effort, he says. They  work together and get along nicely.
Working in Habitat For Humanity is both rewarding  and tiring. When this writer got home she went straight to bed, so tired I couldn’t even take a shower. My body was a little sore the next day from all the shoveling, but I felt a sense of satisfaction and happiness from my work in building homes for those families. It was fun to watch even the small children of the families who would live in the houses passing bricks up onto the roofs.
 Habitat For Humanity is a fun activity for students to  spend half of their Saturday doing a little labor for  families in need to benefit the community.  
Afterword: During the school's second Habitat for Humanity on Saturday. Oct. 22, members of  the SCCS group were invited to participate in a ceremony at which titles to some of the newly constructed houses were turned over to the new owners, and the school was honored for the work it has done at the La Guardia site over the past two years.The ceremony was attended by Habitat officials, local home owners, and officials from the La Guardia mayoral office. SCCS was also mentioned by name in Habitat for Humanity's most recent annual report.  

Pictures of New Lower School Teachers

Silvia Davis

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New Teachers in the Lower School

'A New Beginning' in Bolivia

         Alison Clare, a new first grade teacher at SCCS, comes equipped with high expectations and a lovely personality, Ms. Clare is excited to begin the next chapter of her life in the vibrant Santa Cruz community.
            This young lady is from the state of Connecticut, in the US. She studied at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. After graduating she taught as a 7th grade science teacher in La Crosse, Wisconsin. After she did some research in Cochabamba last year she noticed that she enjoyed Latin America. While Ms. Clare was there, she heard that there was an excellent school in Santa Cruz and decided to apply here and hope to make this her new home. She succeeded. "This is a new beginning for me," she says.
Some of her hobbies are cooking, reading, writing, running and, mostly, relaxing. The teaching life style has allowed her to practice all of her hobbies. She loves the hot weather of Santa Cruz and has noticed that the city is fun to be in and that Cruceños are very nice people to deal with.
            Alison Clare decided to teach children at a younger levelk than in the past because she believes that it is very important for young people to obtain a love for learning and strong classroom skills from a very young age to ensure lifelong learning in the future. Clare’s classroom is very colorful and fun, which illustrates her personality and style.
She expects that students come to school every day to learn and enjoy learning because her job in SCCS is not only as a first grade teacher but also to help children grow in a very healthy way. Most of the opinions that she has gathered over the first few weeks in school have been positive, She like the beautiful campus and that the high motivation of the students and staff.
-- Ximena Fagan

From Minnesota, to Spain, to Santa Cruz

Christina Szyman is the cheerful new American fifth-grade teacher who always seems to be fun and polite and wearing a beautiful smile.  And she seems to be just as she appears.
The new 5-A teacher just celebrated her 35th birthday in ¨tierras cruceñas¨ on f July 30. She was born and raised in the states where she claims two hometowns Chicago, where she grew up, and a small town in Minnesota where her parents live now. She constantly thinks about them and hopes to visit them almost every holiday. 
Christina Szyman says she is enjoying her job at SCCS were her husband, Jason Hershberger,  is also a teacher. . The couple was previously working in Barcelona at Benjamin Franklin international school, which was where they met.
 ¨ The difference between the schools is that the school there [in Barcelona] was much more international, ¨ she says. ¨There were kids from all over the world versus more local Bolivians and South Americans here¨. She worked in Barcelona for around five years and enjoyed it very much. She had previously had worked in a school in Minnesota for six years.
Not only is SCCS different from Benjamin Franklin international school, but also from the high school where Christina Szyman attended as a teenager in Chicago. It was a really big school and very sports-oriented. Sports also took a big part of her life because she used to practice lots of basketball, volleyball, and soccer. Her school was considered one of the best in S States.
She says though life in Santa Cruz is really different from living in Barcelona, , things are pretty interesting here. She finds it hard to get used to taking taxis here because in Barcelona she used to walk from one end of the city to the other; and unlike Santa Cruz, the public transportation was really good. But at the same time Szyman is having a good time visiting the markets, and she highlights that the people have been really welcoming and nice with her.
-- Andrea Gutierrez

He wants to follow in Che's tire tracks 

     Jeremy Kes, the new fourth grade teacher, is really into teaching science and math though he thinks of his job as mainly teaching life skills. He teaches how to be organized, how students should care for one another, how to be together, how to respect, and be part of a team. He decided to teach elementary because children are willing to listen.
     Kes is an American teacher who comes from Minnesota. He is the first member of his family to graduate from college, and worked in restaurants to pay for his own college tuition at North Dakota State University.
      He is a big sports fan. He likes baseball, especially watching his favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, on a Saturday night. He also follows American football. In terms of the sports he participates in, he enjoys rock climbing.
       Since coming here, he has gone to the ¨clasico¨ of Blooming and Oriente, and considers himself an Oriente fan because Blooming fans “don’t know how to lose a game.”
    His dream is to travel over Bolivia on a motorcycle. He wants to go to the forests around Samaipata and the national forest in Beni.  
 He chose to come to Bolivia because it was the best job he was offered when he went to a job fair. He was willing to go almost anywhere to get the chance to meet new people, and experience a new culture.
Mr. Kes has his own taste for music. He likes rock music and a little of rap. He likes a group called ¨Arcade Fire¨, and their song called ¨The Suburbs¨ which reminds him of his life growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis.  
    His favorite meal is steak, so in coming to Santa Cruz, land of the churrasco, he has come to the right place.
-- Fernando Monasterio

A Texan who wants to have fun  -- and teach

            David Bergner, a new fourth  grade teacher in our school,, was born In Houston in 1979. Bergner was raised in Tyler, Texas, and says it was a very fun place to grow up , riding bikes in the street, changing sports cards with friends, and playing sports. He often  played soccer and ping pong, which are common in all Latin America.
David Bergner always wanted to become a teacher because his mother is an educator, and has always wanted to use a second language as a teacher. Bergner says that he always loved school when he was a student, and since then he had the dream to work on one.  He graduated from the University of Texas, in Austin, which is reputedly a fun place to go to university. .
Before teaching in SCCS, David Bergner worked in a school named “Escola Beit Yaacov”, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and also in Lister Elementary School, in Dallas. Bergner chose Bolivia to teach because he has been to Latin America, and knew he would like being here – and have fun.
He knew what to expect in Bolivia because he has been here before as a visitor.  He went to Sucre, Salar de Uyuni, and to La Paz, so he got the idea of how this country was, though he has made some discoveries.  He now thinks the food is much better in Santa Cruz than in La Paz and all those other places.  
During his free time, David Bergner loves to read, attend salsa classes, and hang out with his friends – to have fun. As a teacher, David Bergner says that his challenges are mainly finding enough time to do everything he wants, and allocating his limited resources.

-- Nicolas Aguirre     

She loves kids, cooking, and 'chick flicks'

Silvia Davis is very nice and easy to talk to, eager to help a young reporter get answers to his questions. (I’m glad she is this way because she is my younger brother’s teacher for 1st grade.) This is her first year here at this school and is looking forward to it. She really likes the school and Santa Cruz.

 She was born in Guatemala in 1972 and graduated from Universidad del Valle in Guatemala City where she studied history and social studies.
 She loves teaching and loves kids. She has been teaching for almost 20 years. She has taught all grades, from first to 12th, and met her husband, Kenneth Davis, who is the new dean of students at SCCS, while teaching at the American School of Guatemala in Guatemala City.
The Davises then moved to Caracas, Venezuela, where they again worked together in the same international school, this time for three years. Silvia Davis was the elementary school librarian. The Davises have a daughter, Analee, who is now in the sixth grade at SCCS.
Davis likes to spend her free time watching TV. She enjoys any type of cooking shows but specially loves the Food Network. She also enjoys watching “chick flick” movies. Among her favorite movies are “The Sound of Music” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
  What she likes most about her job at SCCS is coming to school in the morning and seeing all her students and working with them. 

-- Sebastian Vedia 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photos of New Upper School Staff and Teachers

PRIVATE OFFICE? -- Dean Davis welcomes student
to new office, artfully hiding fact that initially he had
to share it. (Photo by Lucia Landivar)

GETTING A BANG OUT OF THINGS -- Music teacher Blake  Panting says
that so far he has (mostly) enjoyed Santa Cruz. (Photo by Nicolas Aguirre)

CLOSE READING -- English department head Jason
Hershberger wants students to do more reading.
(Photo by Ximena Fagan)

OFFERING SOME ADVICE -- AP English and drama teacher Lukus Brody (l)
works with unidentified student on writing. (Photo by Nicolas Handal) 

NEW WAYS OF LOOKING BACK -- History teacher Greg Johnson wants
students to learn different historical perspectives. (Photo by Ximena Fagan)

BIOLOGY IS HER BUSINESS -- Katie Johnson was a standout athlete during
her undergraduate days. (Photo by Andrea Gutierrez)

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Teachers, Staff in the Upper School

Just “Do It,” says New Dean of Students

     Dean of Students Kenneth Davis believes a school needs at least two things. The first is good educators. He knows this because having wonderful teachers was what motivated him to pursue a career in education. The second is a sense of urgency about education. His favorite quote is “Whenever you feel the urge to procrastinate, just put it off.”

      Cleveland, Ohio, was the place where the now very energetic and approachable Davis was born, but Ohio is not the only place he calls home. Davis lived 13 years in Guatemala, met his wife there, and their daughter was born there. The Davises also spent three years in Caracas, Venezuela, and, expect to be many years in Santa Cruz, so Davis considers those two places home now too.  “I’ve got thousands of homes”, states Dean Davis, while cheerfully greeting students arriving to school at the front gate.

      Guatemala was a life-changing country for him, and when he thinks about his time there he simply grins.  “My best experience was meeting my wife, and having my family there. Another big thing was Destination Imagination, .the international program he was working with in addition to teaching at an international school.
In Destination Imagination Davis helped students working as teams to solve problems in creative ways as part of a competition in subjects ranging from theater to mechanical engineering.  Starting off as a coach in the program, he then became a judge, and finally a member of the Board of Directors.

       Later, when he was athletic director in the Colegio Internacional de Caracas, his most unforgettable moment came when his high school girls made it to the finals in the league they competed in. These are all experiences that make Kenneth Davis looking forward to some fantastic memories in SCCS, where he will find that we have some outstanding teams as well.

      Kenneth Davis started quite young, getting his first teaching job in 1996 right after graduating from Ohio State University in 1995. but has fifteen years of experience that got him to where he is now.  Davis has also received a M.Ed from Framingham State College, and an administrative and supervision certificate from Johns Hopkins University. He has high goals and expects some day to become a school director.

       “Whatever job I do, if it’s administrator, or director, or whatever it is, I still want to teach,” Davis says between the “good mornings” and waves to parents and students entering the school gates. And he will be doing that here. It is safe to say that the seventh grade technology class at SCCS will in safe hands since. Davis is teaching it.

      Sports and technology are a big part of Davis’ life. Cross-country and long distance running were his sports in high school. In college he was captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, and still enjoys keeping fit.

      Davis is also very much attracted to technology, and taught a masters level technology course in Guatemala, as well as web page and design courses for advanced students. At SCCS he is planning to introduce more wireless technology so students can be able to bring their laptops to class

      As Dean of Students, Davis expects students to embrace the new rules on the school about tardiness, cell phones, and uniforms in order to have a good learning atmosphere.  Davis expects parents to support their children in rising to the new challenges their teachers will place before them. “I like parents who get involved”, stresses Davis.

       The SCCS campus is a place where Kenneth says he feels accepted. He is fond of the school’s clean and open look. . The students remind him of the school in Guatemala he used to work in.  He claims that the staff has been “awesome” to him, clearly having already picked up secondary principal Nicolaas Mostert’s favorite word.

      As a parting message, our new Dean of Students said with a wide smile; “I just want to thank SCCS for welcoming me and my family, I know I will have a great time working here.”
-- Lucia Landivar

Applying Lessons Learned in Barcelona    
      Jason Hershberger, the current head of the English department and 10th and 11h grade English teacher, arrived at Santa Cruz Cooperative School in August after several years of teaching in the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, Spain, and with great expectations that he can improve the learning levels of English here.

     Hershberger, 38, was born in Akron n Ohio, and graduated from   Miami University in Ohio, where he studied English literature and political science. . Afterward, he moved to Oregon and studied medieval literature at Portland State University. But he says he found that this was more of an expensive hobby rather than a real preparation for life, and so he only studied it for a year. Later on he decided to move to Barcelona, Spain, and obtained a certificate to teach English as a second language.

     For a year, Jason Hershberger tutored adults and children in English and also was a frequent substitute at the Benjamin Franklin International School. After a year of substituting in many subjects, the school offered him a job in the English department. That was when he earned a certificate to become an international teacher from Cambridge University.

     He prepared students in their freshman and sophomore years for the International Baccalaureate program that they would enter in junior and senior year. This IB program is a demanding secondary curriculum that many international schools are offering in an effort to establish a common standard. At the school he met the women who would become his wife, who was also a teacher. After eight years of teaching in Barcelona, they were offered jobs in Santa Cruz and accepted the new challenge.

      There were two main reasons that Mr. Hershberger became a teacher, one professional and one personal. He likes having a vibrant life that allows him to travel and learn about new things and places. Being a teacher has also permitted him to practice his favorite hobbies like reading and writing. With his traveling across Europe, Hershberger has gained new interest in cooking and enjoying appetizing food. He has also been learning Spanish in Barcelona, which has made his move to Santa Cruz easier. He remains a fan of the Spanish soccer team, Barcelona, but also enjoys watching and practicing many sports.

     His main goal as the head of the English department in elementary through high school is to require more reading and writing from all the students, and to raise the standards of achievement in these areas. To be able to change the student’s way of thinking and learning, he recommends that students always remember that “you will achieve whatever you put your heart and mind into.” Never question yourself, he advises, and don’t simply hope to get good grades, but earn them, by working hard and exercising responsibility.  
-- Ximena Fagan 

New ways of viewing history

      Gregory Johnson is an American history teacher who enjoys teaching people his ideas about why the world is the way it is today because of past events.

      Johnson is the new history teacher of Santa Cruz Cooperative School who arrived this month to replace Michael Moore. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and he describes himself as an outgoing, energetic person who loves being outdoors performing new activities.

       After studying Social Science and education at Eastern Illinois University, he moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a mountain town, where he learned how to snowboard. There, he lived for four years while teaching at Hayden Secondary School.

      After his time in Colorado, he was excited about getting the chance to experience new adventures in new countries. One of the things that attracted him to teach here was that Bolivia had a culture completely different from what he was accustomed to. He also liked the idea of learning Spanish, something he had always wanted to do.

      Before coming to Santa Cruz, he imagined a city with not many activities to do, and with a small population, but once he arrived he realized our city was much busier than he thought it was. Crowded streets and heavy traffic were two things he hadn’t expected to find here.

       Johnson has several goals he is planning to accomplish here. First of all -- as any serious, professional teacher would -- he wants to engage with our students. Beyond that, he wants them to appreciate different points of view in history, and to understand how different experiences lead to different outrcomes. For example, he is planning in AP US History class to contrast the differences between the effect of English colonization on the present-day United States with the effect of Spanish colonization on contemporary South America.

      Also, he is planning to become active in other school activities. At Hayden School, Mr. Johnson was the school’s volleyball coach and would like to assist our teams in that sport if he can.

      For him, there are many satisfying moments in teaching and the one he most enjoys is when the students shout, “Ahhh!” after realizing some important new insight.  At the same time, he considers that lack of respect is unacceptable in his classroom environment.

      All in all, Mr. Johnson is looking forward to have a wonderful school year -- and to speak Spanish by the end of it.

      --Manuel Saavedra  

Blending technology and literature

      Lukus Brody, 26, is the new teacher at SCCS for 12th grade English, drama, and the AP English courses.  He is from Mankato, Minnesota, where he grew up as the youngest of four children. He has two brothers and a sister.

       Brody graduated from Minnesota State University in Mankato and as a student taught  English 7, English 9, American Literature, World Literature, Media Literacy, and English as a second language (ESL) for adults at schools in small towns in and near near Mankato including Lake Crystal and St. Clair

      He came to Bolivia because of what he viewed as a great opportunity to teach at SCCS and to see more of the world. . His only travel outside the US before arriving here had been a trip across the border to Canada. He is looking forward to seeing this country and learning more about Bolivian culture.

      Brody also wanted to try living in a warmer climate. He says, “The winters in Minnesota are absolutely terrible and I will not miss them.”

     The main thing that influenced him the decision to become a teacher is his passion for language arts, and he enjoys being able to instill that same passion in his students.

     Brody says his strengths are listening, being flexibility and being able to use technology. Listening is one of his strengths because it’s a topic he studied in depth in his communication courses during college, and it’s a skill he works hard at improving every day. He thinks listening is an important skill for teachers to possess because one of the first things a teacher needs to be able to do is understand their students.

      He feels he adapts well to various situations, and is always prepared to adjust his plans when needed. The need to be flexible was one of the first things he learned when he started teaching.

      He considers himself tech savvy, and is particularly skilled at integrating technology into the classroom. He has created websites, virtual tours and other internet content for classroom use.

     Brody believes he was selected for the job at SCCS because he seemed more apt to incorporate multi-media technology into the classroom than other candidates because of his broad experience with communication and media. In addition to majoring in literature,  he had a minor in film studies and studied both mass communications and speech. With him as the teacher, English class will consist of more than just studying written words on a page.

     When Lukus is not teaching he spends most of his  time reading and writing. Film continues to be one of his main interests. He enjoys reading about movies, writing about movies, and, naturally, watching movies. He was the secretary and treasurer of his university’s film club, and  has both attended and organized film festivals. , He also enjoys being outside, playing basketball, and he recently discovered a new interest in volleyball.

     And he also enjoys trying all the delicious food in Santa Cruz.

-- Nicolas Handal

New Biology Teacher Has a Secret

     To the students walking into Katie Hansen’s biology or chemistry classes, she might seem to be your usual friendly, outgoing intelligent young science teacher.
     But then they don-t know what she has tattooed on one of her feet.

     SCCS students, of course, may think they are accustomed to science teachers with tattoos after being taught by Hansen’s predecessor, Lisa Yemma, who had a lot of them. But Hansen’s tattoo is less noticeable and a little different. She has the DNA double-helix pattern tattooed on her right foot.

      “I got it done when I was 18,” Hansen says, “and it was meant to symbolize how I use science to explain and understand the world around me.”

     Moreover, Hansen has had some other surprising experiences, including being given a special award for students who excel both on the playing field, where she was a star in cross-country running and skiing,  and in the classroom. And she used to be a cook in a restaurant specializing in delicious crepes. .

      But we are getting ahead of our story. Let’s go back to the beginning, though even that part is not as simple as you might expect.

     Though Hansen was born in Georgia and lived there for the first three years of her life, she considers Oregon in the northwestern part of the United States her home. That’s where her whole family lives today, and she says she doesn’t know how she’ll get along so far away from her parents, her two sisters and a brother, and her beloved nephews.

      She also misses biking in Portland, which is known for its many scenic bike trails, and the excellent coffee she used to drink there. But she’s been away from home before. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which is on the opposite side of the continnt from Portland, and her most recent job before coming to Santa Cruz was teaching biology to freshmen at that school.

     SCCS is very different from her high school, San Barlow High in Portland, which had more than 2000  students,  clearly a lot more than this school.  Hansen was an outstanding cross-country runner at San Barlow, captain of the team, and winner of “most valuable player” and “most inspirational awards.

      When she went to university she became a much bigger star, She won, or placed near the top, in many important races and in 2008 she received the award as female “Student- Athlete of the Year” at the university. She also kept her grades up and was named an “academic All-American,” an honor bestowed by a national organization on students who are outstanding scholar-athletes,  

       In high school, Hansen had also been on the ski team, which was coached by her father, Scott Hansen. An episode from that time in her life may say a lot about her. In one race she broke her foot in the middle of it but kept going on until she crossed the finish line and became aware of the enormous bump on her foot.

      This injury kept her from running for several months, but after she was allowed to continue running she practiced harder than ever.
    Hansen has already made her presence felt in the runners world of Santa Cruz by placing second in the womens division of the Fourth Annual Carrera Cemento Warnes 10K Sept. 11.  

     SCCS is very lucky to have such a multi-talented person on our staff – tattooed or not.  

-- Andrea Gutierrez 

World Renowned Bolivian artist here 

    A world-reknowned artist and poet whose work has been exhibited in nearly a hundred shows  in museums and galleries in Europe, North America, and almost every art gallery in Bolivia. has joined the SCCS faculty to teach art.

     Julio Luis Muñoz Eyzaguirre, replaces Olivia Mercado, who is now teaching in Vietnam. In addition to his artistic fame, Muñoz already had a close connection to SCCS in that he is the father-in-law of Upper School math teacher Joe Kirkey.    

     Born in La Paz in 1947, he was interested in art from an early age, took lessons from artist Hans Lein, and had his first exhibition when he was five-years-old. After finishing high school he enrolled in the faculty of architecture at University Mayor San Andrés in La Paz, where he also studied urbanism and fine art. He took classes as well at the Superior Academy of Fine Art.

     He studied easel painting with the Bolivian master Gil Imaná Garrón and with the Austrian master, Hans Blindhuber, as well as with other masters in other specialized fields. His work shows a versatile talent and his work seems unique, independent of any any contemporary trends in Art. His very personal style shows a high degree of technical skill.

      He travelled in the United States and later settled in Vienna, Austria, where he has lived and worked for much of the time in recent years, He is a constant and  central figure on the Bolivian cultural scene where he is regarded as among the most creative active artists. .

       He has published, in addition to technical and scientific works, eleven works of poetry and two others with reproductions and descriptions of this drawings and paintings.In some of his works he uses the pen name Leo Mitra Exyz.

      He has already finished several other works of literature; among them an illustrated book of poetry and a book with aphorisms related to Art, for a bilingual edition in  Spanish and German.

      In addition to his art and books, Muñoz has been a university professor and has been  responsible for running both private and cultural institutions, nationally and internationally. The majority of his work today can be found in private collections in America and in Europe.

-- Fernando Monasterio

 A Musician from Montana

     Blake Panting, 31 years old, is the new SCCS music teacher, replacing Mr. Edward Wolfe. Mr. Panting worked as a music teacher in Arizona State University  and in the Los Lunas, New Mexico, public schools before arriving here.

     Panting was born and raised in a small town in Montana, which he describes as a calm place where people work on farms taking care of their crops and cattle. The population was about 5,000 people, so everybody knew everybody, nobody locked their doors, and he was friendly with almost everybody around there. 

     Panting arrived in Bolivia because he wanted a new challenge, and to experience life outside the United States, and SCCS was the first one to offer him a job after applying all over the world (around 40 countries). Before coming to Bolivia, Panting expected it to be poor, with a weak infrastructure, but after researching about Santa Cruz, he knew it was a big city.

     Before arriving, he expected Santa Cruz to be diverse, with a high class society very different from the low. When he arrived, he saw that was very true. He was surprised by the large amount of garbage he sees almost everywhere. However, he likes the food here, and that there is a variety of “cool stuff” to do and see.

     Panting chose music as a career when he went to college. Initially he wasn’t sure what to study, but he had a background in music. His mother taught piano and he learned to play at an early age. In elementary school he played drums in the band, and added other instrument, including the marimba, during hgh school. But he  chose music teaching more or less at random, and then after a few semesters he realized he enjoyed his career and would like stick to it for the rest of his life.

      His biggest challenges this year are improving the facilities for rehearsing and performing, managing his inventory of music and instruments, and dealing with a complex schedule for classes and instruction. Another challenge is getting used to the humidity, which he isn’t used to, and suffers from.

      Mr. Panting considers himself a laid-back guy, but with limits. This means that if you stay with his rules, everything will be all right. During his free time, he likes to listen to music (particularly  jazz, to play some golf, and to relax. So far, he’s enjoying his time here.
-- Nicolas Aguirre