Monday, October 03, 2005

Independence Month Activities at Colegio Episcopal San Andrés Apostol

September was a full month at Colegio Episcopal San Andrés Apostol, the pre-k through sixth grade elementary school I became director of when I assumed responsibilities as clergy-in-charge of the parish. September 15 is Salvadoran Independence Day, but the festivities really last for the entire month of September. A Salvadoran friend told us that it was only recently, as a part of the peace accords that ended the Civil War in 1992, that the schools started teaching 2oth Century history- up until then, history lessons stopped with Central America's independence from Spain in 1821. According to our friend, that was why the Month of Independence traditionally got to be such a big celebration.

At San Andrés, the Independence Month festivities included three parades around the neighborhood featuring the school drum and trumpet band (recently funded by a donation from our sister parish in Massachusetts) and baton team, numerous "actos" featuring the singing and dancing talents of the students, a contest/fundraiser to see who would become the "Queen of Independence," a drawing contest on the subject of peace, a sports day, and a science fair. Click on the pictures below if you want to see them in greater detail.

Amy poses with the four-year-old "Queen of Independence" of Colegio San Andrés Apostol.
Two students work on their contest drawings on the theme of peace.
Students and teachers recite the pledge of allegiance in the church, decorated for Independence Month.
Members of the band march through the neighborhood on the parade route.
Two candidates for ¨Queen¨ share a vehicle in the candidates´¨coming out¨parade. Picture a line of these!
The baton team in action.
The banner carriers head up the parade.

The drum and trupet band, or ¨Banda Paz¨ stands at attention before the parade begins.

I just have to tell you how much I love these kids already! I feel like I have 82 children. Besides being extra-adorable (I really think they got an extra dose of cuteness- maybe it's the Spanish!) they just have such pure hearts. The fourth-grade girl who was the incumbent Queen looked like a super-model riding on the taxi at the very front of the first parade, and after she passed on her crown, she was just as happy marching with the other children in her school uniform at the back of the last parade. They come from low-income working families and do not have much (monthly tuition is $10, going up to $12 next year, and we could use more money for scholarships), but they are so ready to give--they have such open hearts. I really want to give them the best education possible, and we've got a start-- small class sizes (10-20 versus 50-60 in the public schools), enrichment activities like the ones you see above, and for next year greatly improved computer and English classes due to the generosity of friends, with the possibly of an environmental stewardship class as well. I hope that some of you get a chance to meet "my kids" in person! I'm sure they'll steal your heart as well. -Amy

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