Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Catholic School Stories Pt. 1

Puerto Rico schooling is such that whenever possible, a parent will pay to send a child to private school. Most private schools are Catholic and much more affordable than in the US. I went to many schools leading up to the 7th grade. When we moved towns, my mom managed to find us a spot at Notre Dame and my life changed. Yep, even though I am not Catholic and my parents weren't either, we all agree that ND is a life changing school. If you are looking for schooling in PR, look no further and contact me for details, but if you are reading my blog, I will spare you and instead bring you the first of (hopefully) a series of stories from school.

STORY ALERT (may be boring):
Unlike the stereotype, we did not have nuns running all over the place. We also did not have priests. Our school was run by what I consider liberal Redentorist priests assisted by the nuns of Notre Dame, who are also quite liberal and wear simple blueish skirts with white button down shirts and short hair. We had something like 2 priests and 4 nuns. While all but 1 of the priests that went through were Latin American, the nuns were all American. They had been in Puerto Rico for a long time and could converse to some extent in Spanish. The nuns and American priest had quite the American accent and confused the genders of stuff constantly, but you get over the initial funniness of that after a bit.

We had a huge campus (by PR standards at least) and our sports teams were at the top of the lists. Our school also had a very intense/dedicated science program and a strong focus in that area so we competed in many science competitions and belonging to the Chemistry club was just as elite as belonging to the Varsity team.

Our principal is a visionary. An amazing guy really. He has been in seminary, he taught every AP Chemistry class until a few years after we left and while he was not the day to day moderator of the Chemistry club, as a chemist and early member of it, he was quite involved.

The Chemistry club initiation took place close to the end of every year (as close to St. Patrick's as possible) of High School and was officiated by the principal. It was a semi-secret event to which only teachers and Chemistry club members along with special guests are invited. A demonstration proceeded with the legend that a nun, a long time ago had encountered an elf in the school who eventually died. She kept the bones of the elf in a coffer and every initiation, the elf likes to come and visit. The recipe is written in the history of the school. He had all the props, setup the Bunsen burner and added all the chemicals and would stir in the "bones". Supposedly, as he stirred, the bones of the elf would contort and reveal the future of the school.

It was awesome! I do not know if my classmates liked it as much. The elf spoke in parables of wet twins (water fountains) and things of the like. It was up to the attendees to decipher the predictions. Eventually, an explosion would occur and the elf would materialize (really a purple foam) in a cloud of smoke and all the guests would rush out the doors and proceed to the reception.

Why don't we have stuff like that as adults? Why don't we make everyday life interesting like that? It surely isn't just teenagers that enjoyed the demonstration, the teachers (the ones that had been there for a long time anyway) made sure to attend. So what happens when we grow up? When do we become boring and uninterested?

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