Rodriguex remembers Costa Rican HS Memories

December 14, 2009 — by Kyumin Shim

Longtime Spanish teacher Arnaldo Rodriguex remembers only happy moments of his high school life in his native Costa Rica. When he thinks back, he recalls blasting music while sprawled around the room with his friends and studying together as they shared the most recent edition of the encyclopedia.

“They were like the technology of back then,” he said. “We would always beg our parents for the latest version [of the encyclopedia].”

Rodriguex attended the Liseo de San Jose High School in San Jose, Costa Rica. The school provided him with a varied education and taught him other life skills as well.

“School wasn’t really stressful for me because I knew that this was what I had to do,” said Rodriguex. “Of course when we had tests and projects we had to work hard, but being together with my friends really helped.”

The high school he attended was a five-year school with a six-day week. The school system in Costa Rica then was much different from that of SHS today. High school for Rodriguex started with freshman year, in a main “homeroom,” along with 30 other kids who stayed with him in that classroom until they graduated.

“You basically stayed with the same kids for five years and they were like family to me,” said Rodriguex. During the school’s two-hour lunches, Rodriguex remembers going to eat together and hanging out with his friends. When they would come back to school, though, the students would work hard and try to enjoy as much of school as possible.

Because he attended high school in Costa Rica, his experiences are quite different from other teachers’ here.

“One big thing is that all of the students had uniforms and [there were] strict rules about them,” he said. “It sounds weird now but all the students were so proud to be in them.”

The uniforms allowed students to feel like they represented the school and they were always in their best behavior while wearing the school colors: red, white and blue. And every morning as students file into the school, teachers and other staff were there to check for the right color of socks, clean fingernails and dirt free ears.

After entering the school, they would begin singing the national anthem as the school’s flag and the Costa Rican flag went up the flagpole. All of the students would be gathered in the quad area and after this morning routine, they would be dismissed off to class.

“And now you wouldn’t want to be late to school,” said Rodriguex. “The gates locked at seven o’clock sharp and if you were late, the principal dealt with you.”

Rodriguex remembers another aspect of high school—marching. Liseo de San Jose High School made sure all the students participated in this event. They usually practiced on Saturdays, preparing for independence day parade and other national holidays.

“I was in the honor guard, the higher level of the marchers,” he said. “I really enjoyed that. I’ll never forget walking in different patterns and practicing with my friends.”

“The students had pride in their room and always tried to keep it clean for the teachers,” he said. “We left nice things for them sometimes, like flowers.”

His favorite subject was biology.

While in college, Rodriguex studied Industrial Chemistry, following his father’s wishes. Because he needed a minor, he decided to take a Spanish course. Captivated by the professor’s teaching style, Rodriguex discovered his own passion for teaching.

“I enjoyed my professor’s teaching style of transferring the culture to others through language,” he said.

Having learned so much and had so much fun set him up for his eventual career.

“High school was an amazing experience for me and I don’t remember a time [when] I was unhappy,” he said. “I loved everything.”