The Palapa School, Clubs
On January 18, The Palapa School went into action to make club presentations at The Palapa Wrapped event. Here, each of the 10 clubs set up a stand or made a presentation where they shared some of the activities and learning from the last semester.
The participating clubs were: Crafts, Table Games, Photography, Weaving, Electricity, Art, First Aid, Robotics, Leadership and Music. This event definitely helped consolidate the knowledge and skills of the young students, but also added a touch of fun and joy to the closing of a semester of clubs.
Student Blog: The Palapa School Embraces Zero Waste
Since September 2022, The Palapa School has undertaken an intensive learning process to transform itself into a zero waste campus. Under the leadership of the school’s Co-Directors and CSU Zero Waste Coordinator, Antonio Diego, the school has made tremendous progress.
Tangible results include:
Creation and implementation of a waste separation strategy. The Palapa School now has designated bins for specific types of waste and information on proper separation techniques. A dedicated team of students drives this project.
The Palapa School is part of the waste separation program run by the municipality, which includes regular pickup of recyclables. All kitchen and garden waste are now composted on the school grounds.
The Zero Waste program at the school has been hands-on and dynamic. Students have been an integral part of the waste analysis and waste strategy development for the school and have created and implemented the school zero waste information campaign. In addition, Palapa students have gone outside the classroom to visit and help clean up illegal dump sites around town and lend a hand at Punto Verde where they prepared three tons of cardboard for transport. Supporting themes in the classroom have included “The Myth of Recycling,” learning how to create eco-bricks, understanding the history of compost in Mexico, and learning about sustainable industries.
CSU Zero Waste Coordinator Antonio Diego has brought in terrific local resources to inspire and inform the students and faculty alike. These include Alianza Cero Basura Program Director Juan Salvador Aceves, Punto Verde Recycling Center director Alex Miró, and Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve Director Victor Anguiano who discussed their efforts with respect to waste.
The Palapa School faculty and students have demonstrated tremendous resolve in transforming their facility and are strongly committed to staying the course. By the end of the school year, we expect to see Palapa School Zero Waste Ambassadors (Agent Zeros) with the knowledge and passion to share their hard-won expertise with other students throughout Todos Santos and Pescadero.
Science Trip to Puebla
Science Trip to Puebla
From November 13 – 17, the brightest students from all over the country met in Puebla for the XXXIII National Physics Olympiad. Two 5th semester students from The Palapa School, Sebastián C. and Adolfo L., were selected to represent Baja California Sur in this important event. The path was not easy since both students had to go through 3 prior local and state tests before they finally took their bags for what was a great experience that required effort, discipline and a lot of logical-mathematical ability.
Placing in the top 100 in all of Mexico, Sebastián and Adolfo are now continuing their studies in the STEM branches. The Palapa School is extremely proud to have great talents like Sebastián and Adolfo, and all the teachers who made these results possible. Congratulations!
The Palapa School Extracurricular Activities in Sight
By Palapa School Co-Directors Citlalli, Armando, and Diego
New trends in education highlight the importance of extracurricular activities in the comprehensive development of students. The most developed program includes clubs which take place during school hours and are designed from the principles dictated by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP).
Leaders of The Palapa School embrace this aspect and offer an array of activities including art, music, crafts, leadership, chess, electrical, first aid, and photography. In addition to learning through academic growth and personal development, these activities bring joy, motivation, and enthusiasm to students.
But not everything stops there. As a newly inaugurated tradition, the year begins with the “School Start Bonfire” where students and teachers gather on the beach to enjoy an afternoon full of fun and sand. This year the event was in Las Playitas where laughter, challenging activities, teamwork, and chocolates were not lacking.
Student Blog: Trip to Denver Baja Under The Stars
By F. Menendez
The Palapa Society recently allowed me a wonderful experience with a trip to Denver. The goal was to be a featured speaker at Baja Under the Stars.
While in Denver, we also visited the Museum of Science and Nature with four floors full of fascinating and interesting information.
What I liked the most was that at the top of the museum we were allowed to see towards the sun, of course with the necessary protection, which in this case was a telescope with a filter so as not to damage your eyesight.
In my opinion, it was incredible to be able to observe the largest star in our solar system, and it was great to see how small gas emissions came out.
I was also able to see the moon and all its craters. And the best thing is that it had a part dedicated only to space and all its mysteries. It was a great day!
Welcome Paty Baum, New Director for the Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska
Patricia (Paty) Baum was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her father taught literature at Michigan State University. In 1962, he accepted a teaching position at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Books were the central focus of the Baum household; the family made frequent trips to the Multnomah County Library and area bookstores, including Powells. Baum attended Riverdale School, Metropolitan Learning Center and John Adams HS. She eventually pursued a BA in film production at San Francisco State and an MEA from University of Guadalajara. In 1995, a surfer friend told her about Todos Santos, and she and two friends spent a life-changing month in southern Baja. The visit inspired her to make a permanent move to Todos Santos in 1996. She inherited a surf shop from her business partner, then moved it to Los Cerritos, where she lived in a trailer on the beach for 13 years. She married Daniel Garcia Sosa; their son, Silvio Carlos Garcia Baum was born in 2000. He attended school in Pescadero and Todos Santos. In 1999, with 500 books from her father’s library, she founded what is now the Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska.
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During her 26 years in Todos Santos and Pescadero, she inspired, facilitated and participated in many community-based social and environmental projects including: spay and neuter clinics and educational outreach, making Playa Los Cerritos car-free, beach and arroyo clean-ups, the first community recycling program, three sea turtle groups, two libraries, a bi-lingual school, four youth-in-video films with the Escuela de Cine Leonard Perel, a ten-year stint with her Future Biologist’s field learning, ocean safety program in Pescadero, and numerous collaborations with like-minded environmental educators. She co-authored two social science research papers about Baja, and authored, The Illustrated Guide to Sea Turtles in Baja California, which was distributed free-of-charge to Baja Sur middle schools. Her love of books and life-long learning has not waned over the years, so her full circle back to the Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska is a natural progression.
A Fond Farewell to Joy O’Brien Director of the Infantil Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska
Five years after Joy O’Brien moved to Todos Santos in 2009, she decided she might be ready to volunteer with The Palapa Society. Joy poked her head into the little house on Calle Obregon, the former location of The Palapa Society, where English classes were being taught to local children. Donna Viglione called out to her, “Good timing. Watch this class for an hour. I’ll give you your own class next week.” Joy ran away.
Five years later, in 2014, Joy returned. Serena Saltzman, Director of the Puente al Inglés (Bridge to English) program for children, took things a little slower than Donna Viglione, and recruited Joy to be a Teacher’s Aid. Soon after, The Palapa Learning Center was built, and Joy was promoted to Director of the Infantil Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska. As a former pediatric registered nurse in Louisiana, Joy thought, “I’ll see what I can do. I love kids. I love to read. And, I feel like I can figure out what appeals to kids.”
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This incredible endeavor was not easy. First, the library needed to be moved to the new location. In August, a team of volunteers helped sort, clean, label, and move the books. Without air conditioning in either location. (Joy notes, the library still does not have air conditioning.) Next, the book shelves were too tall for the new location. So, Joy convinced a few carpenters to take them apart, reassemble them, paint them and install them correctly to be sure they didn’t topple over. Then, she created reading nooks, with the help of Merci Todos who made the cushions.
Once the library was opened, Joy quickly learned that the local children did not understand the concept of a library. She and her team of volunteer librarians needed to show the kids that this wasn’t a free bookstore. Books were to be borrowed, and returned. So they provided an incentive to return the books by giving a little prize, such as a pencil, a bookmark, or a sticker. And it worked!
Also, it was important to Joy that the library be kid-friendly. Kids do not know the names of authors or titles of books. So, instead of using the Dewey Decimal system like in the United States, books were shelved by topic such as ‘Animals,’ or ‘Poetry’ or ‘Mysteries,’ similar to retail book stores. This method also helped young cardholders develop critical thinking skills. One youngster asked where he could find a book about sharks. Like every good librarian, Joy challenged him to figure it out. “What is a shark? Where does it live? If you wanted to find a book about sharks, which section do you think it would be?”
One of the crowning achievements is Joy’s Saturday Reading Circle and Craft Hour. Joy picks a book every week, and reads to the children in Spanish. Afterwards, they work on an art project based on the book that was read. On average, 30 children attend this free program – 20 of them are regulars, who then bring friends, cousins, and neighbors. This program brings Spanish- and English-speaking children together, and fosters a life-long love of reading. One of Joy’s fonder memories was when she asked an English-speaking girl if she enjoyed the book that week. She nodded affirmatively, then added, “But I didn’t understand a word you were saying!” Another great memory was when Joy organized a children’s shoe donation drive around Christmas time, inspired by the children’s book “One Thousand Tracings – Healing the Wounds of WWII” by Lita Judge. The kids spent one Saturday in December wrapping the shoes, to be given to the kids in the migrant farm worker camps in and around Todos Santos. One little girl really admired the pink tennis shoes with sparkles, that were just her size. She wanted to keep them. Joy explained that she already had tennis shoes, and that these were a gift for another girl who didn’t have any. That day, that little girl learned the joy of giving to others, just like the family in the book.
As you can imagine, it is with a heavy heart that we announce Joy’s retirement from the library.
She’s moving back to Louisiana next month to be near her grandchildren. When asked what she’ll miss the most, Joy’s voice beamed in her rich Southern drawl, “I love seeing the kids coming in, plopping on a beanbag chair while they wait for mom to pick them up from English class.”
Joy is quick to mention that the children’s library wouldn’t be a success without her team of volunteers – Terry Pearson, Debbie Thomas, Maryann Douglas, Adry Cota, and Marilourdes Geraldo, all of whom have been at the library since it opened.
Joy wants to thank the Palapa community for their support with books and monetary donations, and to share this reminder to the full and part-time expats: “It is important to immerse yourself in this wonderful community. Make friendships. Don’t hide behind Facebook to ask questions for help. Try to learn Spanish, and use it every day. These community ties make the difference in the world. Also, please continue to support all of Palapa’s Education programs. School is a huge opportunity to change the future of this town. Generations of futures. Not only will the kids benefit, but the families will benefit, and YOU will benefit.”
Joy, thank you for creating a magical, wondrous place for the children in our community. We imagine these young readers will keep your legacy going in this town forever, starting with teaching their own children how to read.