Most students at Lone Peak High School don’t know what it’s like to go without education. But 20 juniors and seniors had their eyes opened to that reality after recently traveling to Mexico to build classrooms for impoverished children.
The trip began when Lone Peak’s annual student service project — dubbed “Gold Rush” — raised a whopping $35,000. Next, Lone Peak’s SkillsUSA Club partnered with the Escalera Foundation, a local organization on a mission to end the world school shortage, to put those hard-earned funds to work in San Pedro Pedrenal, Mexico.
Thanks to Escalera’s prefabricated, insulated classrooms, the Lone Peak fundraiser provided the funds to build two small schools for children who otherwise may not be able to attend school.
“We work high in the mountains of Chiapas, and some of the villages are as high as 8,000 or 9,000 feet above sea level,” said Jon Nieporte, board president of Escalera. “It gets cold, and it rains quite a bit. In some situations, they’re under a tarp, or in a wood shack with a metal roof. It’s the basic shelter to get the kids out of the elements. For kids to be able to pay attention and learn in those conditions? It just doesn’t work.”
“We’re from the Alpine area, so to see that people down there had their allotments of water and food, and to see even their kids helping to work on their farms reminded us that we’re super blessed here. It was just eye opening for all of us.” —Nathan Wiscombe, Lone Peak student
So 20 Lone Peak students paid their own way to a small village in Mexico, then got down to work putting together classrooms that would make it possible for the local students to benefit from an education.
“It was really eye opening,” said Lone Peak student Nathan Wiscombe. “We’re from the Alpine area, so to see that people down there had their allotments of water and food, and to see even their kids helping to work on their farms reminded us that we’re super blessed here. It was just eye opening for all of us.”
The San Pedro Pedrenal area is home to subsistence farmers, and the community is among the poorest in the world. Homes are made of either cinder block or wood planks. Children are often pressured to stay home from school to work on the family farm, as the household economics depend on the entire family.
The two classrooms funded and built by the Lone Peak community fit about 25 students apiece, and they include men’s and women’s bathrooms. Combined with the other 170-plus classrooms Escalera has built over the past 10 years, the foundation has provided 19,996 students with new school buildings, and 9,495 students have improved learning by a grade level thanks to merit scholarships.
“We often take our education for granted,” Wiscombe said. “Not everyone gets an education. When you do, you’re lucky. It meant a lot to give them more classrooms, allowing more kids to get that opportunity of education.”