CROEM – Q&A about this magnet boarding school in Mayaguez, PR [Updated 2020]

CROEM is a magnet school in Mayaguez, PR, specialized in math and science. In order to attend CROEM, students compete for 150 spots total in the school. The 150 spots are split amongst students attending grades 9-12.

I attended CROEM from 2004 to 2006, two of my uncles attended about 16 years earlier, and my younger cousin just graduated in 2020. Little has changed about the basic way the school operates, so I hope this Q&A remains valuable for a long time.

What does the school look like?

CROEM used to be a military base before it became a school in 1968. You will notice the military influence in the buildings – practical, not very pretty, with solid foundations and very thick walls.

A few students don’t like the environment and they decide to leave the school after a month or two, but the majority of students stay to complete their high school education.

What classes do they offer?

As of 2009, the courses taught were quite varied. As expected, the school has a lot of science and math offerings.

Classes marked with an asterisk (*) below are electives half-year classes, taken for just one semester.

Sciences

– Biology
– Microbiology*
– Human Anatomy*
– Genetics*
– Chemistry
– Biochemistry*
– Organic Chemistry*
– Environmental Chemistry*
– Physics
– UET (Uses of Energy into Transportation)
– Astronomy*
– Environmental Sciences*
– Earth Sciences*

Mathematics

– Geometry
– Elemental Algebra
– Algebra and Trigonometry
– Pre-Calculus
– Calculus
– Integrated Math III
– Analytical Geometry*
– Linear Algebra*
– Mathematics Topics (Investigation and reasoning)*
– Statistics*

Social Studies

– United States History
– Puerto Rico History
– Universal History
– Sociology*
– Puerto Rican Geography*
– Puerto Rican Government*
– Electoral Process*
– Criminology*

Languages

– English 9, 10, 11, 12, and Advanced English
– Spanish 9, 10, 11, 12, and Advanced Spanish
– French (taught online) *

Physical Education

– Fitness*
– Volleyball*
– Softball*
– Basketball*
– Soccer*

Arts

– Paint*
– Drawing*
– Sculpture*
– Manual Arts*
– Graphic Design*
– Engineering Pre-Graphics*
– Applied Arts*

Domestic Economy

– Baking*
– Cooking*
– Gourmet Cooking*
– Responsible Paternity*
– Some others!

What classes do students take per grade?

CROEM students craft their own curriculums, so long as they can fulfill the graduation requirements on schedule. The graduation requirements for high school are listed below. In addition to fulfilling the high school requirements dictated by the PR education system, CROEM requires all enrolled students to complete at least 9 credits per year (each class counts as 1/2 credit per semester). Students must at a minimum complete 1/2 credits in art and Domestic Economy per year, 2 credits in sciences, and 2 credits in Math.

Minimum Puerto Rico high school graduation requirements

  • Sciences: students must complete three sciences out of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Sciences
  • Mathematics: any three full-credit classes, must include Geometry
  • Spanish: Spanish 10, 11, and either Spanish 12 or Advanced Spanish
  • English: English 10, 11, and either English 12 or Advanced English
  • Social Studies: 3 credits, must include U.S. History and P.R. History
  • Health: 1/2 credit
  • Arts: 1 credit
  • Physical Education: 1 credit
  • Domestic Economy: 1 credit including Paternal Responsibility

Note: high school in the PR public education system is considered as grades 10 to 12. If you enroll in CROEM starting in grade 9, you must also fulfill the following requirements:

  • Earth Sciences
  • Additional full-credit math class
  • Spanish 9
  • English 9
  • Universal History
  • 1/2 credit in health
  • 1 credit class in arts
  • 1 credit in Physical Education
  • 1 credit in Domestic Economy

If you have fulfilled some of those requirements in a prior middle school in grades 7 or 8, some of them may be waived.

How are the rooms?

The rooms are large but shared. There are one all-male dorm and two all-female dorms. The male dorm has 12 rooms, the female dorms have 10 rooms each. Female dorms have four students per room, while the male dorm has 6 students per room.

Roommates are a key part of your development as a CROEM student, as they will be going through the same challenges you will be. Each room has students across various grades, so older students can help out younger ones. In addition, they share responsibilities. Students help clean the residences every night, including the shared bathrooms, and each room does cleaning as a team.

What joint responsibilities do roommates have?

The most important thing is to be respectful of your roommates. Don’t be noisy if your roommate is trying to sleep or studying.

The school has employees in the dorms at all times. We call them residential teachers. Their job is to ensure the students stay safe and behave appropriately. They also ensure each student completes their daily community tasks.

Each room has a set of community tasks to complete each day; these are the students’ contribution to keeping the school clean and organized. Community tasks might include cleaning the dorm hallways, the common areas, picking up trash around the residences, and more. Also, all students are responsible for cleaning their rooms daily, which includes sweeping, mopping, and cleaning the doors. Students complete these tasks between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

What activities are available at the school?

CROEM has a variety of sports activities including baseball, basketball, volleyball, and even soccer teams. You can also join students in other sports like chess and ping pong. The school also has a gym available for students.

CROEM students and teachers also organize different clubs that you can join since your first year. These include the Counseling Club, Chemistry Society, Future Medical Society, GLOBE (hosted by NASA), Literature and Art Association, Math Club, National Honor Society, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Jr, and the Solar Team.

If you are interested in starting a new club on campus, you can organize it with the sponsorship of a teacher. An example of this is the Literature and Art Association, which was founded during my sophomore year by a student with the sponsorship of the Spanish teacher.

Students also organize unofficial activities, not sponsored by a teacher or the school. One such example is the Prayer Circle, which meets regularly for a 1/2 hour of prayer during the launch period.

In addition to all of the above, students often play sports, card games, and board games with friends around the school.

How are the teachers?

CROEM teachers are typically very qualified in the field they teach. During my senior year, CROEM faculty had 6 science, 5 math, 2 history, 2 Spanish, 2 English, 2 art, 1 health, and 1 physical education teachers. There are approximately 150 students in the school, which means that the student-teacher rate was 7:1. All of your teachers will know you by name.

Some of our teachers hold master’s degrees and some continue on to get their doctorate degrees. The quality of the teachers is superior to many of the other schools in Puerto Rico, including private schools.

As a testament to the quality of the education, 14 out of about 60 students who took the College Board standardized test for college admissions in PR, PEAU, were among the Top 100 scores across all Puerto Rico. An impressive feat!

CROEM teachers understand that attending a boarding school, and one with rigorous academic requirements, is challenging for students. They are strict but very supportive and guide you as needed. Many students develop great relationships with teachers, I certainly did.

What is the schedule like?

As a boarding school, students typically arrive at CROEM each Sunday evening and don’t leave school until Friday at noon.

Classes taken on Mondays and Wednesdays are one hour-long, Tuesdays and Thursdays are 1.5 hours-long, and Fridays each class is 30 minutes long. Some classes are scheduled only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or only Tuesdays and Thursdays. But science and match classes worth a full credit for the year need to be taken on every weekday.

Since students craft their own schedule, each student’s individual daily schedule will vary. There are classes offered as early as 7:30am and a few classes end as late as 8pm.

How are the test and interviews?

The admission tests are prepared and scored by the College Board, which ensures the quality of the tests. They focus on critical thinking, but cover a range of topics across math, Spanish, and English. Since it is mainly about critical reasoning, make sure to get plenty of sleep ahead of the test.

Interviews vary and may not happen at all. If there are interviews, you just have to be yourself. Just be humble but clear about why you want to study at CROEM and how you’ve prepared so far.

Last Updated on August 15, 2020 by Omar Eduardo

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I attended CROEM in 1984 and graduated in May 1985. From reading above it seems little changes had taken place. You had to have completed 9th grade. We had to pass an interview, a test, and write an essay. There were 150 spots we had to compete for too. We get to go home every other weekend. The weekends we spent on campus we had to do facilities cleaning such as cleaning the residence, the cafeteria, the fountain, “La Croemita”, etc. We also used that time to work on our Science Fair projects. Parents would come to visit us on Sundays from oon to 5:00PM. Mr. Tomasini was one of the history teachers back in 1985 then promoted to Director or Principal few years after. Mr. Caro was one of the English Teasher, Mr. Sepulveda was in Science, Mrs. Sanabria in Spanish, Mr. Colberg in Math, Mr. Santos in Phy Ed. I went back in Feb 2008 for the School 40th Aniversary which was cancelled due to some kind of teacher's strike. However, Mr. Tomasini was kind enough to open the facilities to alumni and families like me that traveled from out of country to visit and remember our times in CROEM. I loved my times in CROEM and if I had to do it it again I would have not doubt. It was an enrichment experience like no other for high school students. If you are thinking about applying to enter CROEM, don't wait any longer. You will not regret any piece of it! Ivette (Garcia) Holley

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