We began building classrooms in 2011 when we had our first fundraiser at Drake University. Over 875 Drake students came to our first event! That's more than graduation or football games, lol. And those college students gave enough out of their own pockets to build the 7th grade classroom at St. Benedict's R.C. School in Punta Gorda, Belize. We raised that money with $10 and $20 bills. Lots of them! All from college students.
In 2012, we did it again. But this time, 1,000 Drake students signed up! And we raised enough to build the 8th grade classroom at St. Benedict's. With the completion of that classroom, the school had all its classrooms and could graduate its first class. They raised the flag over St. Benedict's. You'll see the photo above of us at that flag raising ceremony.
By 2016, we had put so many hundreds of students in high school with our scholarships that it was time to start building high school classrooms. So, we raised money for two years at our annual auctions to build two beautiful new classrooms at the biggest high school in the southern part of the country - Julian Cho High School.
Julian Cho is the high school for all the Mayan villages for miles around, and it has 1,100 students. All of those students take buses from their villages to get to school every day. Many students get up at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. to walk down dirt roads to catch the bus for a two hour ride to school.
Thanks to you, now when they get to school there is a shining gift from America! What their principal, Dr. Simeon Coc, calls their "dream come true" — two new state of the art classrooms!
In fact, our new classrooms are the only ones in that entire high school with tile floors, rather than concrete. And the only classrooms with a gleaming zinc roof, rather than the tin that's on the others.
$62,000 of your donations paid for 10 construction workers and all the steel, lumber, concrete blocks, plaster, windows, doors, tile, and zinc! And we painted the inside walls of those two 30' by 30' classrooms sky blue because we dream as big as the sky, and they should too.
The Julian Cho High School did not have a student center where students could study between classes, and gather for ceremonies. In 2018 and 2019, we raised the money for a beautiful student center on the first floor of our new classroom building. It is the school's pride and joy. When we dedicated it in January, 2020 (photo above) all 100 of our scholars at Julian Cho stood with us as Kale VanBruggen, Jeff Lamberti, Linda Friestad, Jim Albert, and the principal cut the ribbon. Note the American flag we painted on the side of our huge classroom and student center. That's what America stands for.
We operate in the four high schools in the southern part of the country. The Corazon High School where we send scholars is on the border with Guatemala. It's a three hour drive over dirt roads to get there from town. We have 50 scholars at Corazon, all of them Theta Chi scholars. The men of Theta Chi at Drake raised all the money for those 50 scholarships! Theta Chi has been with us since 2010, as we set those records at Drake early on.
But Corazon High had a cafeteria made out of used lumber, about the size of a garage. It had bats and bugs and termites. In 2019, at our annual auction at Buzzard Billy's, we raised the money to build a gleaming new cafeteria for Corazon High. The photos of it are above. The only building on the campus with tile floors. The only building on campus to proudly have the American flag on two sides of it. Now students can have at least one warm meal a day. Our donors did that. That's what we do.