“Go team Red #1!”

“Good job, keep going!”

This past Saturday, the grounds of the escuelita rang with shouts of encouragement as teams of students from Safe Passage and the American School of Guatemala worked together to get the best times in relay races, catch the most water balloons, and hop as fast as possible in potato sacks! This event, playfully dubbed

“Splash Day!” due to the prevalence of nearly 300 water balloons, celebrated the great performance of two classes of Safe Passage students- Johanna Yool’s awesome 6th graders and Liliana Romana’s rockstar Segundo Basicos!

This celebration represented the culmination of three months of hard work for these two classes. Understanding the importance of structure and rewards for good behavior, the English Program, Creative Expression Program, and the Sports Program joined forces to track the achievements of each class and provide a great reward every trimester. At the end of each class, our volunteer teachers asked the students to evaluate their own performance in the class by awarding themselves points for each of the five values we emphasize: participation, respect, responsibility, collaboration, and honesty.


In response to the expectations we have for the students, they’ve begun to hold themselves to high standards. In a recent class with 2nd graders, I asked the students how many points they earned during the class for respect. Each student said “5 points,” which is the highest score, except one student who sheepishly told me she had hidden under a desk at one point and that was not being respectful!

    When we first started planning the event, the American School of Guatemala jumped in to offer their support in providing materials like potato sacks, bean bags, and volunteers. We were so thrilled that 20 students from their school were able to join us in celebrating the accomplishments of these two classes. At the beginning of the event, we scrambled all the students into 7 teams so there was a great mix of Safe Passage and American School students on each team. For the first activity, the students sat with their team leader and came up with a team name and designed a team banner. The students from each team then came up and presented their group’s great banner to the crowd.

    After all the teams had presented their flags, the Splash Day fun really began! On the count of three, students headed off with their team leaders to race, splash, and jump their way through eight great stations, run by our awesome Safe Passage volunteers. One of the craziest stations, Up for Grabs, had volunteers and students from Safe Passage’s student leadership group, throwing water balloons, soaked sponges, and bean bags into the crowd of students who were desperately trying to catch the flying objects and earn points. Once the students had been through all the stations, Tutoring Coordinator Mac Philips organized a huge game of capture the flag which was a blast for the kids!

Walking around while the activities were in progress, it was such a joy to see all of the students, big and little, playing and laughing together! The event was a great opportunity for us to reward two classes of Safe Passage students for their good behavior and get to know some of the students from the American School. We’re looking forward to more great events together in the future with even more Safe Passage winning classes! Click here for more Splash Day photos.

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