June, 2016 Update:
The monthly bulletin is back after a two-month hiatus. We have been awfully busy and we are sorry it has taken so long to bring you into the fold again. Nonetheless, we have had a great number of positive things and events happen to us in the previous two months! We hope you enjoy reviewing our accomplishments since our last update.
This school year has been the one of the best in PCI’s short history. We have improved the school in many ways and we recognize that there is still much to do! The good thing is that we have a very supportive group of students, teachers, parents, and Board members who help PCI become better each year
Letter from Alex
Ever since I first returned to Panajachel I was dreading the arrival of this moment; alas, the time has come for me to say farewell to Atitlan and the PCI community. Because Atitlan is my home, and because I received and extraordinary sense of belonging and love at PCI, I joyously delayed this moment two more years longer than I thought I would. Yet, to quote Robert Frost, “leaf subsides to leaf…[and]…nothing gold can stay.” This Fall I will relocate to Baltimore and begin my pursuit of a Masters in Business Administration at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
More importantly, the time has come for me to thank everyone. For me, these past two years have presented immense challenges, yet each one of you has eased my load dramatically and helped me grow as an individual and professional. Thank you to the PCI Board of Directors for having faith in me and for having my back since day one. Thank you to the group of teachers I was blessed with having as my guides, examples, peers, and friends. Thank you to the parents who placed their trust in PCI to take care of their most prized possessions- their children. Thank you to Juanita and Profesor Enrique for being my right and left hands tirelessly working in the PCI office. And, above all, thank you to the Students of PCI that I had the pleasure of teaching since 2013. Getting to know and interact with each and every student made going to work each day an easy task to accomplish.
In my time at PCI, the school has grown dramatically and, because of this, the school is now poised to do bigger and better things. I would have a much harder time stepping down this year if it wasn’t for the fact that our new Administrative Director, Dr. Dave Soler, is an incredibly qualified, passionate, and caring professional. He is exactly the person the school needs to get to the “next level”. In addition, Dr. Soler will be surrounded by a great team of new teachers and continuing teachers that will elevate the school to a place it hasn’t been before academically. Especially, when this team is complemented by exciting new ways to engage students, such as the block period and experiential learning pedagogy. While this is a time of great change, we will work towards a smooth transition. I am truly jealous I will not be here to see the growth personally!
If there is only one request I do have before we usher in many of the exciting changes above, and that is that we keep our heart in the same place. I want to make sure that the school continues to help, educate, and empower students, especially those that are of indigenous Guatemalan descent. The best education should not be reserved for those who can afford it, but available to as many students as possible for, as Horace Mann put it in 1848, “Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”
Thank you once more for an incredible experience and I hope to see you again when I come down to visit!
Note from Dave Soler
Dear family and friends of the PCI community,
Please allow me to briefly introduce myself to you within Alex’s last director’s letter as a way of connecting with you through him. You are sad to see him go. I share these feelings with you, knowing that this is part of a normal process. Each director builds and improves upon the work completed by the prior director. This process and understanding is how we grow individually, as a team, and as a learning community. Alex knows this as I know this. I have been honored and humbled to collaborate with Alex in planning for the next school year of PCI’s history. We have been working together for over 3 months now to position the school for the changes that will guide our students, your children to their aspirations and life accomplishments. I have met the board, the teachers, and the student council and they all appear to be in agreement. Now I look forward to meeting you and to have more of the same conversations.
Please know until we meet, that I have been to Panajachel several times as well as most of Latin America. It is an area of the world of which I have always had and continue to have strong emotions about. My wife Sue and our 2 cats are very excited about this opportunity in serving the PCI community. Until we meet then.
Thank you to Mr. Lee and Ms. G
It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Lee and Erin at the end of this term. In their time at PCI, they have been extremely caring, professional, and I know that they have forever changed each student they taught for the better.
We wish them the best in their transition to Colorado, where they will continue to pursue their passion in the realm of education. Good luck!
Mother’s Day Fundraiser:
On Saturday, the 14th of May, PCI held its annual Mother’s Day Bake sale. We sold cookies, pies, cakes, baklava, cupcakes, and other treats to raise Q1300.00 for PCI’s student body. This is great news for them since it helped finance the 2016 School field trip to Antigua, Iximché, and the Earth Lodge.
Thank you to Mr. Jon’s and the Palapa (Jon and Bruce) for allowing us to sell goods out of their establishments!
This Month PCI participated fully in the local intercollegiate sporting tournaments against other schools from Panajachel. The sports in which our students competed in included: futsal, basketball, athleticism, and chess. It is a real shame that the organizers of the event this year did not include swimming, but we hope they do next year.
Nonetheless, our students did extraordinarily well, bringing home multiple first and second place prizes in each sport. Thank you for cheering us on and we hope to do just as well next year!
Visit to Villa Sumaya, 2016
On our last official day of school, the folks over at Villa Sumaya invited PCI’s staff and student body to their lovely establishment to celebrate the end of the school year. This was an offer we could not turn down! In our efforts to make this an educational experience, Susanne Heisse from Pura Vida Atitlan introduced many of us to “eco-bricks” and the transformative potential they posses by cleaning our town/lake/world one piece of garbage at a time. The day was a beautiful one and so we ended it by swimming… of course! Thank you so much Wendy!
Graduation and End-of-Year Ball
While we did not have any seniors this year, it was a joy celebrating one of our students, Baptiste, obtaining his Bachillerato degree from the Ministerio de Educación. We wish him the best next year! We expect our graduation to include many new faces next year!
In addition, our students alongside the president and vice-president of our Parent-Teacher Organization, Steph and Leisa, planned and hosted an excellent end of year celebration for the students. Even though it was pouring that day, spirits were not dampened and fun was had by all!
Our Yearbook Team has finished the Year Book 2015-2016 and it looks amazing! The students have already received them. Some books remain in the office for purchase. The books have a price of Q95.00.
Summer Schedule and Next Year
PCI is now closed for general education and will re-open the first week of August for inscriptions and scholarship renewals! The ELL program will continue working on the English program through summer.
Classes for the 2016-2017 school cycle will begin on the 1st of September. The calendar for next school year is attached and the daily schedule for our students is pending.
Atitlan Alumni Association
The Atitlán Alumni Association (A.A.A.) is a support network for students and alumni of the greater Lake Atitlán Community. A.A.A. is an independent association that works with all students and alumni of Lake Atitlán, regardless of their institutional affiliation, financial situation, nationality, age, gender, or race.
We aim to help each other achieve our academic, personal, and career aspirations through advising, mentoring, and resources. In addition, we aim to create a strong and supportive community among students, alumni, and supporters. Finally, A.A.A. aspires to encourage social responsibility and long-term commitment to the greater Lake Atitlán community. This philosophy is particularly essential in view of the needs of this community and the tremendous potential possessed by the Lake’s students.
Our activities include, but are not limited to:
• College counseling, preparation, and applications;
• Mentorship while in college
• Pursuit of graduate studies
• Career planning, particularly for students interested in returning to Lake Atitlán
If you or anyone that you know would like school/career advice or to connect to other members of the Atitlan community who studied here, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our Website!
As always, we’d like to remind all parents that they are the most important part of any child’s education and success… and we here at PCI are very grateful for your continued support in this effort. Thank you for reading our monthly newsletter and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.