The staff, students and extended family of the LincolnSchool are planning a big bash tomorrow in honor of their new campus in Heredia, north of San José – and judging from a look around the site they now call home, they’ve got plenty to celebrate.
The private, bilingual school, founded in 1945, packed up last month as it moved from Moravia, the eastern suburb where Lincoln’s preschool and K-12 classes have been offered since 1953, to Barrio El Socorro in Heredia. On the new 7-hectare campus, up from 3.2 hectares in Moravia, the school’s 1,200 students have quite a bit more room to learn and play.
“They’re so excited,” said primary school librarian Ana Isabel Quesada, who on Tuesday morning gave some firstgraders a lesson on finding books in their new, inviting library, with low, kid-sized shelves and an amphitheater-style reading area strewn with colorful pillows. “It took us a while to see the light (at the end of the tunnel), but they love it.”
The library – flanked by a separate high-school library, where older students reviewed reference books on comfortable couches, surfed the Internet in the “virtual room,” or did homework near displays of student art – is just one of the facilities the new campus offers. Color-coded buildings for administration, pre-primary (preschool, kindergarten and an intermediate year known as “prepa”), primary and secondary, as well as a cafeteria and two gyms, surround a grassy lawn.
The buildings are somewhat intimidating cement blocks, but the classrooms inside are inviting. Adriana Alfaro’s pre-K classroom, much larger than the Moravia version, is equipped with computers, a bathroom, and plenty of sun. Her students were gathered in groups throughout the room on Tuesday, working at learning centers.
In the cavernous high school, two buildings down, seniors preparing for their International Baccalaureate exam studied French, while sixth-grade music students two floors down cajoled their recorders, flutes and brass instruments to produce the strains of Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” under the patient watch of band director José Luis López.
The cafeteria, where kids can purchase lunch or heat up their own at a bank of microwaves, is complete with a performance stage; an art center to house the school’s famed “Amighetti Murals,” along with art exhibits and other events, is still to be built. On the other side of the cafeteria, two gyms – one for high school, one for primary – provide plenty of room for a post-meal indoor soccer game before heading back to class.
Beyond is an International Football Federation (FIFA)-regulation soccer field, surrounded by a track and complete with an airy view of San José below. Luisana Pacheco, a LincolnSchool alumna and parent, as well as the admissions and development coordinator, explained one factor in choosing the Heredia site was the hilly area’s pleasant, cool climate.
Pacheco, from the class of 1985, said she’s watched the school improve as the field of private, English-language education in Costa Rica has grown more competitive.
“It’s oriented more and more toward academic excellence,” she said. She explained that the school’s goal in moving to the new campus was not to expand, but to provide better services for its existing student body – including Pacheco’s own children, now in prepa, third and fifth grade at Lincoln. English is the language of instruction, though students take a Spanish class and Costa Rican Social Studies (conducted in Spanish).
The movement for a new Lincoln campus has been under way for a whopping 14 years, though once the Barrio El Socorro land was purchased and construction began, the buildings went up in just one year, with Constructora Volio y Trejos in charge of construction and FSA Ingenieros y Arquitectos in charge of plans and inspections. The groundbreaking ceremony took place March 21, 2006, and classes at the new facility began on the same date this year, Pacheco said.
President Oscar Arias, members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries attended an inaugural event April 18. Tomorrow, a bigger and less formal event will serve as a chance for the whole school community to enjoy the new setup. Pacheco said that activities from soccer games to a climbing wall to a rock concert by student band Castalia will entertain those in attendance from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at from noon-12:40 p.m.