Maria first heard about Forum Academy while attending her community school in Chiriqui Abajo. Her teachers spoke to her about a special school looking for exceptional students from communities located in the mountains of northern Cocle. These were students who already faced difficulties attending school and reaching graduation. When she first arrived at the academy, Maria admits she was “very nervous and scared, but quickly discovered what she calls “the beauty of the academy,” realizing it was a wonderful place to learn.
“Studying at Forum Academy was a unique experience for me because this is where I had the opportunity to study the IB. I learned many things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, like the importance of participating in class and sharing my opinion with others. I also learend the imporance of supporting my classmates, working in groups, and developing other skills as part of everyday learning. For me, the IB helped me grow, and find my place in the global community.”
Although Forum Academy was forced to close due to the COVID 19 Global Pandemic Maria, has been able to continue her International Baccalaureate diploma path, along with ten other seniors. “I was able to work on my evaluations at home, but sometimes I didn’t have enough signal or the power would go out. It has been challenging but I continued and it was exciting to send my work to be evaluated in another country.”
After announcing the Academy was closed, IB teachers IB Coordinator Sol Perez and Administrators hatched a plan for the seniors to remain together and continue the IB Diploma program evaluations. Students received cellphone data cards to continue online learning and to submit their work. As restrictions lifted in Panama, some teachers were even able to visit students to complete part of these evaluations.
The senior class was kept together as Omaira and Elvia were able to secure places for them at Angel Maria Herrera. “Being a senior at Angel Maria Herrera is a great opportunity to finish my education, meet new teachers, and make new friends. Even better than this I am able to be with fellow students whom I met at Forum Academy,”says Maira
So through intermittent internet signal and electrical power, Maria has been able to continue her Diploma path. The results of the IB evaluations will be delivered in January 2021.
Note: All seniors at Forum Academy are able to keep the laptop computer they used at school once they graduate. Given students like Maria had to transfer to another school, they were given their laptops to continue their studies.
Although Maria has also been able to continue her studies to obtain her high school diploma through modules (packets delivered to students so that they may complete the required credits for graduation). “I feel happy because for me I am able to complete the modules and make progress.”
When she graduates Maria plans to go on to university to become a pediatrician because she loves working with children. “After finishing university I want to work to help my family and community. I hope that in the future I will be able to help the people of my community and province so that they can also go on to study.” Maria will first go to nursing school and then specialize as a pediatrician. She is confident that with the strength and special support of her loved ones (who she says “expect the best”), she will achieve her goal.
Forum Foundation is committed to supporting exceptional students like Maria so that they successfully complete high school and go on to university and lifelong learning.