Friendship Comes in a Box

My most recent Post announced there was some really big news to share. Well, it is now time to share some great news and I sincerely hope you will be as impressed as I am.

The Pen Pal Program headed up by Lisa Baldwin is so special. We are big believers in this program and cannot begin to put a price on how valuable Lisa and her class are to our overall support for the Learning Center. Lisa’s efforts with the Pen Pal Program is not without significant challenges. As a classroom teacher she is confronted each day with the responsibility of meeting all of the educational demands and requirements classroom teachers must deal with. The pressures are great.   Lisa.rev.1

Taking on additional work not officially part of the curriculum when time is a premium speaks volumes about the kind of teacher Lisa is. She believes there is value in her students building relationships with the students at the Learning Center.

test Pen pal

She also believes her students will learn about the world as they become familiar with students who live in another culture and speak, read, and write differently. She believes it is important to encourage her students to learn about their world around them and be actively involved. Her students are also learning to use their writing skills to communicate with others. The letter posted here is one of about 40 letters sent. It does not take much to imagine how the students at the Learning Center  react to receiving so many letters from peers living in the USA.

But there is more…much more to report!

Lisa and her unselfish High Point Elementary 5th graders went even further this time as they completed this Pen Pal letter cycle. The students were so excited about being Pen Pals they decided to ship a box of school supplies to the Learning Center along with the letters. These young students I understand do not come from rich neighborhoods and many have their own social and economic challenges to face. Regardless, they used their own funds to gather the supplies and packed their items in the box for delivery. Paper, pencils, erasers, markers, and notebooks, even the book “Charlotte’s Web” are among the many items in the box. I call this their box filled with Friendship!

Pen Pal Donation

“This has been so much fun! My students couldn’t be more excited, and I and my team teachers are thrilled. Let’s hope that my school day allows for more time to do such wonderful and creative activities such as pen pal letters. Thank you for the opportunity.”  

Lisa Baldwin

As “Friends of Copey” we all have the opportunity to do something just as Lisa is doing. This is one of the key reasons we became “Friends of Copey”. We want to open the door for “friends” to become knowledgeable about the project. Then when, where, and how, you can decide if you have a talent, time, or other resources that would be useful and supportive of the community and students at the Learning Center. Ultimately, we want to help the young people of Copey become all they can be.

There is room for more Pen Pals. Possibly, you have a Sunday school class or public education class that would like to get involved as pen pals. Maybe you can sponsor a school supply drive or just send notes of encouragement and support to the volunteers and students.

If you have thoughts and ideas, please contact me and let us discuss ways to get more involved. Send me an email at:













Independence Day

I thank each of you for sharing in the observation of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and I hope you enjoyed the very special 9/11 poem written by Anne Lawrence. Also, I thank you for your comments regarding Mom’s birthday tribute observed on September 11.

Our thoughts and interests are never far from the reasons we are “Friends of Copey”.  Our desire to be helpful and supportive grows and each week someone new wants to be included as a “friend”.  Meeting new and interested “friends” is one of the wonderful joys I have as a Blogger.

Now, let us move from a spirit of remembrance to a time of celebration. Do you know that Costa Rica has an Independence Day?  Costa Rican FireworksOn September 15 each year, Costa Rica commemorates the independence of all Central America from Spanish rule which took place in 1821. Annually, September 15 is declared in Costa Rica an official national holiday, Independence Day.

By comparison, the September 15 celebration is similar to our 4th of July except Costa Rica seems to place much greater emphasis on community participation and higher levels of children participation in various forms of festive activities, especially in parades wearing colorful dress and regalia. The young children are much more than observers. They are included with the adults in celebrating this very significant day.Sample of Costa Rican Children 2

The Independence Day celebrations began on Sunday night with fireworks throughout the country and Monday was filled with parades, picnics, dances, storytelling, workshops and music.  Pablos Jesus.1

The Learning Center students actively participated in all of the events.

It was reported that our Anne G. Broady Scholarship student, Pablo Jesus, wrote and sang a song about the beautiful town of Copey. Pablo is sponsored by Jerry Merritt. Great Job Pablo!!!

The Learning Center was closed all week because of the holiday and for administrative reasons. The students and staff returns on Monday and we are looking forward to more great news to share about the students and some great things “Friends of Copey” are doing in support of the Learning Center. THIS is really big but I must wait a little longer before I can freely share the information. Keep reading and stay connected.

Remember…the Regional Spelling Bee is around the corner in October. And it will not be too long before the school year comes to a close. I am still hoping we have one or more ballet supporters who will contact me.  We are wanting to do something very special for our students.


9/11 Follow Up Message

Written by Anne Lawrence author of “Following My Tug…”

I remember that day like it was yesterday.
It was early morning, about 8.
People gathered around the TV at work,
As we watched the horror: accident or act of hate?

Confused by the images,
We stood around, stunned and numb.
Some of us on the verge of tears,
Deadlines became meaningless: no work got done.

I remember one of my colleagues
Was on the phone to one of her friends in the south tower,
In the staircase walking down, trying to get out!
How helpless we felt, holding our breath for news, praying to a higher power.

Then, all of sudden, before our eyes
Straight through the second tower, another plane crash!
What the hell was going on, our world had changed…
with the screams echoing against that eerie apocalyptic silence… all in a slow-motion flash.

But that wasn’t enough for the orchestrators of this surreal day.
Oh no, a third building bombed and a highjacked plane.
Even the Pentagon was being attacked.
We felt the hush of sheer terror – it was all completely insane!

The airports were promptly shut down,
People were grounded, couldn’t get back home
War of the Worlds, but this was no prank
No comfort to be found in the crowds – their eyes told us they felt alone.

We simply couldn’t comprehend the true devastation
And impact this tragedy would have on our humanity.
So many lives lost, so many humble heroes,
Pointing fingers blaming, so many questions – yes there are still plenty.

That morning, I packed up my stuff and left work early
To pick up my children at school, as so many parents did.
Nothing seemed to matter more in that very moment,
Than to hold, hug, and never let go of my kids.

I’ve learned that hate is not an effective weapon against hate.
In this world, there are some who build, create and inspire,
Knowing that only love and acceptance can overcome and conquer.
And these people are far stronger than those who destroy, manipulate and conspire.

Today I remember the good, the bad and the very ugly,
The pain, fear, and profound despair.
Today, the politicians continue to play games, to what end, it’s unclear
But we, the people, are healing despite them… because we dare.

On this day, I remember, but won’t linger too long.
There’s a world of hope I cling onto, a world I want to create.
I can’t do it alone, that’s obvious,
So I invite you all to join me… the world needs you… it’s not too late.

Remembering 9/11

While preparing this Post I am full of reminders about the significance of this week and the date, September 11. It happens to be the date that is as memorable as the afternoon I learned that President Kennedy had been shot.

These experiences have a way of planting you in a place and time that is never forgotten. I had sneaked off school grounds between classes and crossed the street to a small diner to buy a soda and a snack. This was against school rules but I thought I could sneak away for a couple minutes. I was a typical 10th Grader.

John Kennedy

The diner‘s TV had just broke away from its regular program to announce the shooting in Dallas and the status of President Kennedy’s condition. I was stunned by the news but could not stay to listen to the report.

I rushed back to get to class on time. I could not tell the news without confessing that I broke a school rule. It would be 15 or 20 minutes later when my classmates heard the official announcement of the assassination from school officials. I will never forget my trip to the diner that afternoon in November.

On the morning of September 11, the day of the terrorist attacks on our country, I was getting dressed for work. My television was on when I returned to my bedroom from my morning shower. At first I thought I was watching a preview for some upcoming movie while watching smoke billowing from a New York City skyscraper.

Sep 11 images

Perhaps a full minute went by before reality set in. For the next 30 minutes I sat on the end of the bed, still in my robe, and was experiencing another event that would put me in a place and time not to be forgotten.

I intended to call my Mom to wish her a Happy Birthday before going to work…but forgot. She called me later to ask if I had seen the news and we did not speak about it being her birthday.

After that day, 9/11 and the two events, the attack and Mom’s birthday, merged into one day of great significance.

Granny and boysMom and I often would give each other a private glance during the many times she was asked the date of her birth while at a doctor’s office, the hospital, or some agency. When she responded 9/11/25, the one inquiring would often make a comment about the 9/11 attack. Mom would sneak a wink at me.

For me, whenever I hear about the attack on 9/11, my thoughts turn to Mom.






You Raise Me Up….!

August ended with a BANG! and now September is off to a great start. “You Raise Me Up”, a popular song by Josh Groban just seems like the right theme for us at this time. The full verse reads;

“You raise me up so I can stand on mountains; you raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders; you raise me up to more than I can be”.

It is so amazing to have students at the Learning Center doing so well…being raised up!

In an update on the Spelling Bee; the second round of the Spelling Bee Contest took place September 3. Among the top three winners and an alternate are two students from the Learning Center. Learning Center student Dayana (shown in the middle below) is a fourth grade student and the youngest among the first and third place winners.

Spelling Bee pic 3She won second place competing with seventeen other students. She was the third place winner last week in the first round.

Camil (not shown), also a Learning Center student, won the alternate spot after 20 rounds. Recall, Camil is not directly an AGB scholarship recipient but benefits indirectly since her family received a scholarship for her twin sister, Katrina. This speaks volumes for the Learning Center’s success as two of the four winners attend the Learning Center in Copey.

This contest level is known as “circuital” and is comparable to our county or state competition and obviously more competitive than the local level. The next round is in October at the regional level. We are proud of all of the students and will keep a close eye on the upcoming regional competition.

Lisa w childrenThe ongoing Pen Pal Program continues. Our US teacher Lisa has received letters from the Learning Center and her students are preparing their letters to return to the Learning Center students. This will start the next round of letters. Lisa reports her class is so excited about their pen pal friends that they have also put a school supply package together to send to the Learning Center.

Lisa’s students are being introduced to new experiences, new friends, along with unique geography and social issues. There is no way to measure the benefits students on both ends are receiving from this form of international interaction. If you are in a position where you have students in class or groups under your guidance in schools, clubs, churches, scouts, or other organizations, please consider joining in on a similar Pen Pal Program. See the July 29 and May 17 Posts on Lisa and the Southern Style Pen Pal Program.

I will gladly assist you in working out the needed arrangements to make this work properly. Send me a note if you want more information.

Also, remember we have budding ballet stars on the horizon! These talented students are busy with night ballet classes and traveling to San Jose on weekends to rehearse for The Nutcracker.

Ballet Line UpI wish we all could book a flight and head off to San Jose to see them perform.

I am trying to generate some awareness among ballet enthusiasts or companies. “Friends”, do you have contacts in the Arts world? Can we find resources where we can have this story covered in a ballet newsletter or exposed to other young potential ballet students?  Let me know if we have any way of bringing this story into the US.

??????????By the way, our “friend” Claudio, one of the earliest “Friends of Copey” from San Jose, Costa Rica is traveling to the US next week to attend his 50th Class Reunion at the US Naval Academy.  Claudio, you and Sheila have a great time and “Go Navy!”

In closing, you can see there is much on our plate and we are always looking for more ways to support and encourage the Learning Center and the Copey community. Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.