ESCUELA CRISTOBAL COLON (ECC)
The first school started in a barrack supported by DORSA. Escuela Cristóbal Colón (ECC) started its operations In November 1940. Kindergarten and elementary school for the settlers’ children was offered. Many of the Dominican workers’ children, as well as the children of a few non-settler farmers of the area, also attended the ECC for its reputation of high academic standards. Instruction was in German in the kindergarten until 1944, and in Spanish in the elementary school. In the beginning, in addition to the curriculum required by the Dominican Secretary of Education, children had to learn German, English, and Judaism. After German was completely dropped from the school curriculum in 1944, Hebrew was introduced in the elementary school.
Children benefited from highly educated teachers like Mr. Ferran who had taught at the Sorbonne in France, Dr. Bruck, a former surgeon, Felix Bauer, a professional musician in Vienna and later professor of Erskine College, SC, Dr. Robitschek, a physician and researcher in Germany, Mr. Scheer, who had been a professional teacher in Czechoslovakia, Israel Haber a Dentist and Luis Hess, a language instructor and DORSA interpreter of several languages. Mr. Hess was the school principal after Mr. Scheer emigrated from Sosúa.
Many of the teachers at the ECC, in addition to teaching the mandatory curriculum, shared with the students some of their cultural experiences, thus expanding their intellectual horizons. Alumni of the ECC remember with veneration the lectures of Dr. Walter Robitschek, who was paralyzed from polio and dedicated most of his life to teaching at the ECC. Also, Luis Hess, the principal of the school until 1975, is remembered by everybody for his strong discipline and fairness. Señor Suero, Ana Julia Hess, Judith Kibel, Hella Blum, Tatica Wellisch, Socorro Martinez, and Señorita Monción, first trough eighth grade teachers are also remembered with love. In 2001 the school’s name was changed to “Colegio Luis Hess.” It was a way of honoring the hard work of the school’s principal.
The school also offered summer camps in Hebrew (taught by rabbis that came from USA), music, carpentry, and gymnastics. The formal curriculum was monitored by inspectors of the Secretary of Education and students were examined by these official inspectors in their 6th and 8th school year. The ECC offered its students the opportunity to act in plays, which were offered to the community at the end of each school year and for the Dominican holidays. For some of the Jewish holidays, the ECC organized special events, most notably the mask dance on Purim and the building of a hut during Sukkot.
The school had a modest library, a collection of records, and a few musical instruments (piano and accordion) that were available to the students.
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