Student Experience

ANS Student’s Year at a Catholic Private School

Comparing and Contrasting the American Nicaraguan School and St. John’s College High School.

 

St John Baptist de La Salle… pray for us… Live Jesus in our Hearts… Forever!

 

These words are spoken with pride at the beginning of each class and adventure at St. John’s College High School (SJC), a Catholic school in Washington, DC. For a year, I was a part of this community, speaking those very words along with the rest of the class. Throughout this time, I was able to learn more about what it was like to study in a school in the United States in comparison to Nicaragua. 

A similarity between my experience abroad and at ANS was that both schools instilled social responsibility in its student body. As a Catholic school, SJC treated community service as a religious duty. Even being a non-secular school, ANS teaches social responsibility to all students. In both schools, there are numerous programs that give students the opportunity to volunteer in different areas. 

One of the biggest differences between ANS and St. John’s is a division amongst students that is part of the ecosystem of larger schools. With a class size of around two hundred and seventy at SJC, this was natural. Unlike ANS, where everybody seems to know everybody else, or at least be on a first name basis with their peers, the amount of students in a single grade is so overwhelming one can easily pass off as another brick in the wall. During my time there, I was a part of three completely different friend groups who had not even heard each other’s names before I mentioned them. I was immediately surprised since I had always been used to enjoying my time in and out of class with the same peers I had known for over a decade in Nicaragua. 

Having such a large student body also had its benefits. Many large high schools in the US are able to have a wide variety of courses and extracurricular activities, specifically at SJC, they had everything from a clay molding elective to advanced coding classes. This variety allows students to have more control over what they are learning. With the financial resources that many schools in the US have, they are able to cater to students in a very specific way. A student who would like to be involved in both sports and computer science during school is able to choose from many class combinations that contain both general concepts. For example, a student could take app development and weight lifting, web development and an athletic period, and many more. This is different to smaller schools like most in Central America that do not offer as many courses. At ANS, when a student would like for the school to include a new class, it can be pitched to the principal and could eventually be made available. An example of this can be seen in the newly added CS50xANS elective that deals with the fundamentals of coding. As the size of a school increases, the administration has more leeway to cater to new interests. 

One of the best examples of the resources, specifically at SJC, are the athletic installations. Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, graduated from St. John’s in 1990. Since 2015, Plank has funded athletics, entrepreneurship, and academics initiatives giving St. John’s state-of-the-art sports equipment and installations worthy of a college team. In fact, the school is part of a program that Under Armour uses to test out their equipment before it reaches the professional players. I was able to experience a part of this partnership after participating in a 4-week baseball training camp. Specifically at St. John’s, many prospective students are athletes who seek the school’s resources and reputation.  

Although it was a difficult adjustment, I became a more independent person this past year by taking advantage of the resources available to me. I learned both the struggles of being part of a large student body and how it could impact my relationship with my peers, and an appreciation for my education at ANS that prepared me for success at SJC. Most importantly, I learned how to adapt to a new environment and seize unique opportunities, something I will also have to do next year in college.

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