High achieving California youngsters begin a visit here today

Friends of Pato Loco photo
As in many places in the country at holiday time, some 32 youngsters were treated to Christmas at the Papagayo Golf Club Saturday. They were guests of Friends of Pato Loco, a Playas del Coco organization. Each youngster got a large
gift packet with toys and clothes and their families got a large food packet each, organizers said. Similar scenes took place in many locations and were sponsored by churches, foundations and even the Fuerza Pública.

High achieving elementary school students are due to arrive in Costa Rica this morning for a two-week visit to learn about the culture here.

The students are from the Watts Learning Center Charter School, a center city institution founded in 1997. The children are from the third through fifth grade along with parents and grandparents.

The program is called Passport to the World, which provides students with international travel.

Watt Learning Center in Los Angeles has distinguished itself as a school that sets high standards for a rigorous academic program along with high expectations, it said.

“Passport to the World trips are more than an adventure for our students,” said Gene Fisher, board president. “The trips are a part of a continuum as we provide exceptional educational opportunities for students and the school family. The travel experiences are truly life changing and for some students their first airplane flight. Students learn to obtain a passport and the process of international travel. They experience other cultures in a variety of settings as they make new friends.

“By having these experiences they are better equipped to become global citizens in the 21st Century.”

Students from the school, primarily African American, consistently outperform peers in nearby schools on standardized tests. The California Charter School Association named the institution the California Charter School of the Year in 2007.

Students will visit Arenal, Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo, said Fisher. Their first stop is the Museo de Niños in San José. However, they also will be visiting an orphanage in Limón and bringing clothing to those there.

Said Fisher: “Our plan includes spending time in small towns and villages with a special stop at an orphanage. Teaching students the importance of caring and giving we are taking clothes (some were dresses made by women from Park Hills Community Church) and school supplies to children in an orphanage in Limón province.

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