The elementary school across the road from the high school in Nueva Esperanza saw a huge increase in attendance due to the new opportunity for students to continue their education beyond 6th grade. As a result, classrooms at the elementary school were jam-packed, and two new classrooms were needed. The foundations and walls were started by a group of high school volunteers in the summer of 2013. Being able to witness the direct impact the high school has had on the community was inspiring for both the volunteers and Amped for Education staff alike!
Students at the high school in Nueva Esperanza were in need of shaded spaces to sit with friends during free time, or to get a little reading or homework done. We took a small group of volunteers to Nicaragua in February 2014 and worked on building benches that spanned the width of the building. This project seemed easy in theory but the group soon found that there were many steps involved! Our volunteers build the benches using metal rebar, concrete blocks and cement, and also got the chance to interact with students.
In June 2014, we worked at an elementary school that was overflowing with students and in need of additional classroom space. A group of volunteers from Massachusetts worked at the school in El Coco, a neighborhood a few miles outside Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. They laid the foundation for a third classroom at the school and installed the rebar necessary for building the classroom walls.
After land was acquired in July 2014, construction began on our first learning center. The goal of the learning center is to provide a place where high school students can go to work on homework and projects related to what they are learning in school. Students will then be more likely to continue their high school education until graduation.
Amped for Education initiated the idea to open a high school in Nicaragua as it’s first project. To make this a reality, we teamed with another non-profit, La Esperanza Granada, who recruited volunteer groups from Builders Beyond Borders and Westfield State University to help. This new technical high school opened to students in February 2012. We continue to support the school, and promote access to education through the sponsoring of students.
There is no individual household plumbing in the of Pantanal, so each family gathers water from a community pump on their street. During the rainy season, the dirt road is washed away, leaving the roads impassable especially near these pumps. Fifteen high school volunteers worked to install several stone causeways across the main road, digging trenches at each pump and filling them with cement blocks, greatly improving road conditions.
One of the challenges faced when opening the high school was gaining support from students’ parents, as many encourage their children to leave school in order to work. To stress the importance of attendance, we worked with local contractors to build a new home for 7th grade student Erica and her family. Erica’s mother, Maria, works hard to ensure that she attends school every day. Volunteers spent three days rebuilt the house’s walls with cinder blocks and wood, creating a stable, safe house.
In February 2013, Amped for Education volunteers teamed with local construction workers and another non-profit to transform a high school student’s house into a sturdy, safe home. Priscila, 15, an honor student at the high school, won a raffle held among top-performing students to have the improvements made to her family’s home. She and her family were present during the project and helped out the volunteers and contractors, another example of our promise to help by giving a hand up, not a hand out.’
Amped for Education purchased ten Netbook computers, which were loaded with educational software by La Esperanza Granada. The Netbooks are used by high school students to help them improve their math, Spanish and English skills.
We funded electricity to the high school in 2012, making it possible to charge donated Netbook computers, as well as charge electric drills and saws to be used in the vocational classrooms.
With a second learning center anticipated to open in October 2015, we tasked the Smith Academy group from February with the job of building several tables to be used in the new center.