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MPH students raise money to remake El Salvador school

MPH students raise money to remake El Salvador school

By The Post-Standard

DeWitt, NY — Manlius Pebble Hill School students will dance the night away on Friday to raise money to help pay for the “Extreme School Makeover” of a school in El Salvador.

The Spanish Club and Z Club, a community service student group, have teamed up to raise $20,000 to renovate Canton San Juan Cruzadilla, located in Jiquilisco, El Salvador. The Pre-K through sixth grade school is in desperate need of repair, students and advisers at MPH said.

The dance marathon for students, friends and families, sponsored by the Z Club, is one way to help raise the money.

“With our little bit of help, step by step, we can help the whole society there by building a school and providing them with a good educational atmosphere,” said Ji-Young Li, MPH junior and co-president of the Z Club.

What started with the volunteer service of one person has turned into an undertaking that will cross borders to promote education and build lasting friendships.

Last fall, MPH held a “Service Learning Fair” at which students learned about several community service groups and charitable organizations. It was there that they became aware of an organization that serves El Salvador through medical missions. Bonnie Adams, MPH nurse, has directed these annual missions to the country for the past seven years through Mission of Miracles.

Spanish Club students quickly became interested in helping school children that live there. Adams linked the club with Glasswing International, a nonprofit organization based in El Salvador that identified a school in extremely poor condition that could be greatly improved with $20,000. This donation would allow people in Jiquilisco to rebuild classrooms, install clean running water, add flushing toilets, and a waste water system.

“These are wonderful students who love to get involved in service projects,” Adams said. “This is not only fundraising but relationship building. They will be able to see how lives are touched through their efforts.”

Fundraising began last fall and will continue until the goal has been reached. The students made a $500 donation as a down payment to show their commitment, said Akshay Menon, MPH senior and vice president of the Spanish Club.

MPH students say they are excited to be a part of this international service project. For Lyn Watts, MPH sophomore and secretary of the Spanish Club, it’s an opportunity to make a positive change for the children at the school and see the direct impact of their work.

Students at Canton San Juan Cruzadilla do not have to pay tuition to attend the school, but they do need to purchase their own textbooks, supplies and uniforms. In rural and impoverished areas, such items can be difficult for families to afford. Often, schools in severe disrepair with inadequate staffing are not conducive to learning. Canton San Juan Cruzadilla has three teachers to instruct the 120 students who come to learn each day.

“I want to be a teacher, and seeing kids learning in that environment is unacceptable. They should be learning in an environment that helps enhance their learning, not one that hinders it,” said Jon Mangram, MPH senior and president of the Spanish Club.

In January, when Adams went on her annual medical mission, she brought pencils and sharpeners to the school from the Spanish Club. Students in Spanish classes also sent along photographs and letters written in Spanish for the El Salvador school’s students, who were excited to write back to their new American friends.

While the school in Jiquilisco has no computer yet, members of the Spanish Club and the Z Club are looking to the day when they can set up a Skype connection to video conference with the their counterparts in El Salvador, said Spanish Club adviser Silviana Medina-Dooher and Z Club advisor Sherry Eckstein.

The two advisors will chaperone a service trip to El Salvador planned for next year’s February break. The students will spend time tutoring children there, cleaning and painting murals at the school.

To help:
While the dance marathon, staged by students at Manlius Pebble Hill School to raise money for the makeover of a school in El Salvador, is not open to the public, there is a way to help. Make donations to the “Extreme School Makeover,” with checks payable to MPH, addressed to Spanish Club/Z Club, Manlius Pebble Hill School, 5300 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, NY. 13214.
The MPH Carnival May 1 is open to the public. Visit or call MPH at 446-2452 for more information.