Pura Vida: Grade 9 Travels to Costa Rica

There’s no doubt that a ninth grade year at Shore is a one-of-a-kind experience. A transformative year of discovery, achievement, and personal growth, Grade 9 students gain leadership skills, navigate increased freedom and responsibility, and are provided with impactful and unforgettable service and travel learning opportunities. 

After a three year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year's class of ninth grade students traveled over two thousand miles to Costa Rica for seven days of curricular – and humanistic – growth and exploration.

After hours of sitting on tarmacs and racing to connecting flights, the four students and two chaperones, Music Teacher Jenn Boyum and World Language Teacher Manny Brito safely landed in San José, Costa Rica on May 6. The group boarded a bus for the next leg of the journey and ascended once again, this time into a cloud forest to the peak of Cerro de la Muerte.

There, students officially began a week-long exploration of topics and themes including living life off-the-grid, biodiversity in the rainforest, the importance of the National Park system to Costa Rica’s economic, environmental, and social well-being, and more. While traveling the country, students helped milk cows and gather eggs on their host family’s farm. They also worked with the Bribri, an indigenous people of Costa Rica, on what their educational travel guides explained as “service projects that are focused on leaving a positive impact in the wake of our visit.” 

A student favorite of the hands-on learning was a lesson about conservation areas and water cycle… given while white water rafting on Class III and IV rapids as the group continued on their journey to reach the Caribbean Sea!

While there is a special something to learning about Howler and White-Faced Monkeys, reptiles, and birds through searching for them in the Costa Rican jungle, learning about the country and its cultures took place months before the trip, right here in Beverly. 

Upper School teachers across subjects made an impressive effort to tie in the trip to their lesson plans. In math, for example, students learned about the Costa Rican currency, the Colón, and calculated its exchange rates. In Spanish class, students took an in-depth look at the history and culture of Costa Rica, while a student enrolled in Latin learned about the scientific names of plants and animals they'd be looking out for in the jungle and along the coast.

Traveling to Costa Rica contextualized what students had been learning about in an academic sense, and offered a special opportunity to live out the Community Code in their final weeks as Shore students. While mastering kindness, respect, and dependability at home is one thing, putting those skills into practice with new people and in a new setting is a true test – especially in being open.  

Ninth grade students said that they gained an understanding and appreciation for similarities and differences, noting a few stand-out constants: gratitude, the power of community, and of course, soccer. 

Boyum and Brito think that when students reflect on their time in Costa Rica years down the line, they will remember how they pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and what they learned about themselves and the world through doing so.

“Being courageous can be a small or large act,” said Head of Upper School, Oliver Hay. “I am proud of the grade nine students for approaching their time in Costa Rica with curiosity. Whether it was learning about others or themselves, they demonstrated an ability to absorb what was around them, and reflect on their experiences.”

The Costa Rica experience is one that will stick with students both academically and personally, solidifying their preparedness for their next steps as they head to secondary school and beyond.

Shore Country Day School

545 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915
(978) 927-1700
Shore Country Day School’s mission is to provide an education that inspires a love of learning and encourages children to embrace academic challenge. We seek to build character, cultivate creativity, and value diversity as we help our children become healthy, compassionate citizens of the world.
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