L.A. Parker: The kindness of strangers is alive and well
Some strangers can be extraordinarily nice and observant.
STEMCivics Charter School students discovered that fact on Saturday after a two-hour visit to thermal springs located within the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, a 34-000 acre geographic wonder located 15.5 miles northeast of the city of Liberia.
Our group met Sharon and Jim Valvevold shortly after a zip line excursion and before we climbed aboard horses for a ride through rocky terrain.
We were near the horse paddock enjoying the aroma of equine excretions when an introduction occurred. The Valvevolds visited from Culbertson, MT, a farming town located in the upper east corner of the state, “almost in North Dakota,” Jim Valvevord noted.
We struck up a discussion about U.S. issues and agreed on many topics, including that Washington, DC politicians who created welfare were near-sighted nitwits.
The Valvevords, farmers, had departed Dodge as winter temperatures reached 45 degrees
— that would be below zero — for a 15-day visit to Costa Rica.
That’s about a 135-degree temperature change as Costa Rica sweltered mid-90s.
“Fifteen days,” wowed Z’Emani Dixon, a STEMCivics Charter School junior. “Y’all living like that. I hope when I get old I can go on long vacations.”
Sharon Valvevord , a retired teacher of Native American children, had her ginormous opportunity
— and she showed no hesitation.
“And you can,” she said “If you’re willing to work hard you can have vacations like this and more. (Jim Valvevord smiled and nodded).
A short two-worded inquiry served as the Valvevords huge finish, more ginormous than the mountains that dot Costa Rican landscapes.
“Are you?,” Sharon asked.
Pretty slick. Sharon Valvevord had Dixon boxed in and the teen smiled before answering affirmatively.
The Valvevords expressed support for a STEMCivics group being chaperoned by school founder, Leigh Byron, and 2018 graduate, Ajia Mackins.
Until Saturday’s excursion, Melonie Chaves, Julio Grullon and Alexis Perez were the most active, enjoying every aspect of this Feb. 5-13 trip to Santa Cruz.
Stephen Peprah from Ghana had indulged all activities except water events while Dixon, Shanya McDonald and A’shanti Knox listed as hesitant.
That all changed Saturday as opportunities for a zip line experience, horseback rides, tubes on the Negron River and a hot springs visit loosened tight lips and eased tensions.
The STEMCharter students benefited also from Maria Anton (Spanish) Tamara Araya (Physics) and Bronagh Byrne (English) of Eunice Sato Academy of Math & Science a public, magnet school located in Long Beach, CA.
The three teachers completed an exploration mission as they accompanied STEMCivics students for an entire day of activities.
The Long Beach group plan a student volunteer/ cultural visit in June.
Outstanding teachers teach in tour vans, on zip lines, atop horses and on water tubes.
Anton (Spanish) Araya (Physics) and Byrne (English) coached and coaxed STEMCivics students throughout the day.
The Sato “invaders” were wonderful additions, first considered interlopers that morphed into wonderful supporters.
Byron continued his charter school campaign with introduction of his students as “the best kids ever.”
Byron photographed his crew as they completed their tube run down the Negron River.
The Valvevords landed one last accurate observation.
“That guy (Byron) looks like he’s having more fun than his students,” the Valvevords noted.
STEMCivics students enjoyed kayaking, snorkeling and surfing in Samara yesterday as they complete these last several days on this Squads
Abroad mission. Back to work on Monday at Buho Okhy Elementary School in Santa Cruz.
(L-R Long Beach, CA teachers Tamara Araya, Bronagh Byrne and Maria Anton offered inspirational support to STEMCivics Charter School of Ewing students in Costa Rica.