New Public High School
This Summer, 2016, Por Los Niños, in partnership with the local community, built Zihuatanejo’s first new public high school in nearly 20 years – Colegio de Bachilleres de Zihuatanejo de Azueta. The project provided 6 new classrooms including a fully-equipped, air-conditioned computer room, 2 bathrooms, a school kitchen, and a covered lunch area. The new school is located on donated land in Col. Vaso de Miraflores, across the highway from the university. The school was previously housed in 4 cramped rented rooms in El Centro, and lacked the capacity to accept additional students from their long waiting list. The new facility has allowed them to welcome 47 new students, and now serves 130 bright-eyed young scholars. Enrollment is expected to grow rapidly, and additional classrooms may be needed in the next year or two.
The highly-regarded Bachilleres program is designed to provide an educational path to future employment for bright teens that have left school prior to graduation.
Their reasons are varied; often simple economics – they can’t afford school, unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse, etc. Based on my observations, these returning kids are very highly motivated; more than half of this years’ graduates had GPAs higher than 9.0.
Our project collaborators fall into two categories; organizations that donate directly to the school; and businesses that donate to Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo.
Direct donors to the school include Ayuntamiento (city/county government), providing 8 construction workers for 10 weeks; CFE, CAPAZ and TelMex waived installation fees to extend power, water, sewer and phone/internet lines to the school site. Concreto El Hujal, headed by Lic. Jorge Sanchez Allec, provided heavy machinery for one week to break up the boulder field and level the site, and provided all the concrete floors. The school parents contributed nearly $100,000 pesos, and volunteered their labor, to complete the project. (They even co-signed a loan to raise funds.)
Typical businesses that donate to Por Los Niños include Sherwin Williams Paint, with a 25% discount, Compu-Servicios Cihuatlan, who provided the computer equipment at a 25% discount w/free installation and one-year, on-site service; and Grupo El Plateado who provided the building materials at substantial discounts (nearly their cost). The 200+ local businesses that donated gifts and services to the Sailfest auctions and raffles raised $251,390 pesos toward the purchase of building materials.
The completion of this Colegio de Bachilleres was the most ambitious single-year project in the 16-year history of Sailfest/Por Los Niños, and marks the 102nd classroom, bathroom, kitchen, or playground built by this community partnership.