The Ticos are in town ~ Mount Pulaski students hosting Costa Rican students

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[January 13, 2017]  MOUNT PULASKI - A group of students from Mount Pulaski and Costa Rico came together Saturday night for a welcome dinner in the basement of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. Mount Pulaski students and their families are now hosting the Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they call themselves, as part of an exchange between the two schools.

The Mount Pulaski students visited Costa Rica last summer and shared experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Mount Pulaski High School Spanish teacher Rachel Grunder hopes the Ticos will do the same while here in America this week.

As part of a welcome speech Saturday night, senior Eli Olson told the group, “Welcome to our country. We are so excited you are here. I know when I was in Costa Rica I had an amazing time. I just really hope that we can give that to you guys. We can give you that experience that we had and just make a memory that will last your entire life. That’s all I got.”

Mount Pulaski High School Spanish teacher Rachel Grunder (center) welcomed her Costa Rican counterparts, Annes and Donald, at 
Saturday night’s welcome dinner.  

Grunder also introduced the English teacher from Costa Rica, Donald, and the Spanish teacher from Costa Rica, Annes.

Donald spoke at the dinner and was very grateful for the opportunity his students were given in coming to America. "A year ago we started with something that we thought was not going to be possible,” Donald said. "Believe it or not these guys have worked really hard to be here and they have done amazing sacrifices. We really appreciate and we are grateful for the time you share with my kids because I consider them my kids. So thank you very much and I hope that they are going to be as well a part of your family as they are a part of mine. Enjoy the time with them.”

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Before the dinner came to a close, Grunder had to mention something that made Donald blush a little bit. "Donald just got married!” Grunder told the crowd the big news and a huge round of applause followed suit. Grunder waited for the crowd to die down and then exclaimed, “And he wrote her name in snow today!" Donald laughed and said, “This couldn’t be more embarrassing. That’s true anyway,” he added, all smiles.

By the sounds of all the laughter and the sight of all the smiles Saturday night, it’s obvious this group is going to have a whirlwind week of fun and adventures ahead of them.

Following the dinner Saturday night the group headed to MPHS for a casual dance with the rest of the student body.

On Monday school began with a big welcome assembly for the visitors. The group also spent some time in Springfield this week ice skating, visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, shopping at Scheels and eating, of course, at local favorites - Charlie Parker’s Diner and Fulgenzi’s.

Sporting events are also on the agenda for the week and the Ticos have already been spotted sporting the purple and gold Hilltoppers colors. The group also has plans to do some sightseeing in Chicago before flying back home on Monday.

If you see these fine young people around the community be sure to make them feel welcome.

[Teena Lowery]

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