Congratuations to Our 2013 High School Graduates
On June 22, 2013, the 14 members of Mayatan’s 12th grade class received their American and Honduran high school diplomas in a small ceremony in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. Nine of the classmates had attended Mayatan together since Kindergarten, and most will now be leaving Copán to attend universities throughout Honduras and North and Central America.
It seems unlikely that the nine young students who enrolled in Mayatan’s Kindergarten class in 2000 had any idea that they would be graduating from Mayatan’s High School program 13 years later. After all, at that time Mayatan had not even hosted its first Middle School graduation! Yet, on June 22nd these same students – plus five others who joined in later grades – celebrated the culmination of their years of hard work at the Mayatan Bilingual School. In front of a small audience of family, friends, teachers, and even some visitors from the United States, our 2013 senior class received the diplomas that they had (perhaps unknowingly) set out towards 13 years ago.
Speaking at the ceremony, High School Director John Weber reflected on the five years he has spent teaching and counseling this group of graduates, remembering with a smile the challenges and occasional "disagreements" they had shared in and out of the classroom. John knew the difficulties well: it wasn’t until he arrived in 2007 that Mayatan began to develop its High School program. In addition to teaching many of their classes, John established a relationship with the University of Missouri High School Distance Learning program, thus allowing Mayatan students to complete a U.S. high school curriculum and receive an American diploma. As these grads can attest, completing the U. Missouri curriculum in addition to the Honduran national curriculum is tough work – but all 14 members rose to the challenge, with five of them receiving Honor Roll recognition for their strong academic performance.
John continued his speech by making a demand from the new graduates: at some point in the future, they must help others in the same way that they’ve been helped at Mayatan. “You’ve made it through Mayatan not solely from your own effort, but because many others have supported you along the way”, John began. “Now it’s your turn. At some point in your lives you’ll have the opportunity to help out someone in need. You must do so.” John urged the graduates to take a chance on helping Hondurans of future generations, just as the Mayatan Foundation and foreign donors took a chance on many of these seniors (9 out of 14 families received financial support). John concluded with a remark that echoes an important element of Mayatan’s mission: “You have the power to change Honduras for the better.”
The students’ college plans indicate that they indeed possess the ambition to serve as future leaders of their nation. The majority will be attending schools within Honduras, such as Annie (Medicine, Tegucigalpa), Manuel (Law, La Ceiba), Henry (Graphic Arts, San Pedro Sula), and Eduardo (Engineering, Santa Rosa). Others intend to study abroad: Sayda will study in Guatemala City, and Jose Danilo and Owen plan to attend schools in the United States. John Weber, too, will be graduating as well: after six years at Mayatan, he will return to the United States this summer.
There is little doubt that the investment made by the students, their parents, the Mayatan Foundation and its donors will bring great economic returns for these graduate and their community of Copan Ruinas. Yet, as the ceremony went on, it became apparent that this investment has already paid off valuable dividends. The experiences the students shared and the relationships they formed hold much importance for our seniors. Together, they have studied for over a decade’s worth of exams, competed at national athletic tournaments, volunteered at orphanages and translated for medical brigades, and even summitted the highest mountain in Honduras.
Class valedictorian Eduardo Murcia summed it up best during his speech at the ceremony: “I can now call you all my brothers and sister – because after being together at Mayatan so long we truly are a family!” Visitors to the ceremony, noticing the laughter, tears, and joy shared by the graduates and their teachers, could tell that this group had indeed formed a familial bond. We join their parents, teachers, and supporters in wishing these brothers and sisters well as they continue on to the next stage of their lives. We can’t wait to see how much they accomplish.
Congratulations and good luck to our 2013 senior class: Manuel, Jahairo, Sadia, Owen, Henry, Danilo, Eduardo, Annie, Delia, Oscar, Jose Luis, Sayda, Francisco, and Jean Carlos, and to outgoing High School Director John Weber.