Island-based Caye Education Foundation (CEF) non-profit organization celebrates its success after its scholarship support program at San Pedro High School yielded this year’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian from the Class of 2021; including seven of the ten students that graduated with honors. The foundation aims to guide and help the students so they could successfully graduate.
The Caye Education Foundation (CEF) first sprang to life in 2017, financially supporting ten students to attend San Pedro High School. The foundation implemented an arduous criteria/vetting process to select the students, who received books; uniforms; tutoring; counseling (when necessary); and a Saturday/Funday outing to Caye Caulker after completing their first year of high school.
Marilyn Cuellar, Valedictorian & Ninel Pacheco, Salutatorian
These ten students were followed closely with CEF Board Members' paying attention to each of their mid and end-of-semester grades. If any students fell behind with a grade less than a “B,” a CEF Board Member met with them and their parents/guardians. In most cases, the student fell behind because of failing to submit assignments on time. Once they turned those in, their grades were generally quickly back up to standard. Some students consistently did well, while others needed tutoring and/or counseling. Once assistance was provided, those students were back on track.
With additional funding the next year, the Foundation took on several more students who were already in high school. The next set of students who did not go through the same vetting process as the initial ten were a little more difficult and needed constant supervision.
“Like we all have seen on the island, sometimes students’ home lives are not exactly conducive to attending high school and keeping up with homework and other classroom activities,” commented a CEF Board Member. "Some students needed more attention, while others sailed along smoothly and uneventfully.”
“Semester after semester and year after year, CEF kept a close watch on the students and how they were doing. Most of them required no assistance, but there were always one or two who could use some extra support. However, we often were not aware of that right away, because the students were reluctant/to shy to ask for help. It took some poking and prodding to solicit the admission and, even after providing the indicated support, some of them did not show up for tutoring sessions. But, "The never give up on a kid" mission of the CEF Board Members led to ten students' successfully graduating with their class of 2021.”
The ten students who walked across the stage and received their diplomas included Marilyn Cuellar, Valedictorian and Ninel Pacheco, Salutatorian of the 2021 graduating class. Five others made Honor Roll and the remaining three graduating students are not to be omitted from the story; they played an important role in the success of the program.
Marilyn Cuellar - Honor Roll / Valedictorian
Ninel Pacheco - Honor Roll / Salutatorian
Keyla Chi, Bristind Ramirez, Analuisa Sanchez, Axel Patt, Angel McNab - Honor Roll
Estrellalisa Martinez, Osvaldo Melendez, Astrid Ruiz - Graduated
Astrid Ruiz, Bristind Ramirez, Osvaldo Melendez, Keyla Chi, Analuisa Sanchez, Estrella Martinez, Axcel Patt
Foundation Seeks Funding to Continue With Program
Now the Foundation is faced with the even more daunting task of finding ways to support the students who would like to pursue post-graduate studies.
“Raising the funds to help these students and their families is another one of those issues that keep us up at night,” commented Robbie Gonzalez, CEF Board Member. “I will continue to hope and pray that there are still individuals out there, despite financial damages incurred by the pandemic, willing to donate (no matter how small the amount) to educate just one more deserving student on the island / in the nation of Belize.”
“We would hate to see our hardworking students' aspirations end at this point. We simply cannot allow those brilliant minds to waste for lack of a few dollars. We must find the means to continue to ignite their passion for knowledge, spark the pride of their families, and blaze the trail towards a better future for Belize.”
CEF is extremely proud of the students who graduated and is looking forward to continuing its support and see another success story. Anyone able and willing to donate towards the education of more deserving island students can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +501 627-8700.