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 firstname.lastname@example.org.) To read more items on the "Omelette," including profiles of new teachers and staff, Middle School Medieval Day, and much, much more, go to sccsomelette.blogspot.com.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
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
´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
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.
'A New Beginning' in Bolivia
From Minnesota, to Spain, to Santa Cruz
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