CEF Success Stories
The Caye Education Foundation (CEF) first sprang to life in 2017, when we financially supported ten students to attend San Pedro High School. We used an arduous criteria and vetting process to select the students (see attached), who received books, uniforms, tutoring, counseling (when necessary), and a Saturday Funday outing to Caye Caulker after completing their first year of high school. These ten students were followed closely by CEF board members who paid 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 or 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.
It wasn’t long before we began to notice that some students consistently did well, while others needed tutoring and/or counseling. Once such was provided, those students were back on track.
Though our requirement for continuing to receive the financial support of the Foundation was to maintain a “B” average, we knew it might not be possible for some students. The goal was to enable them to graduate high school.
With additional funding the following 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. As we have all 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. Some students needed more attention, while others sailed along smoothly and uneventfully.
Semester after semester, and year after year, we 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 were often not aware of that right away, because the students were reluctant or too 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 from 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.
See the chart below for the names of the ten-graduating students; including the two standouts mentioned above, five others made Honor Roll. The remaining three graduating students are not to be omitted from the story; they played an important role in the success of the program. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, one student who was doing very well through his three-and-a-half years of high school suddenly dropped out in the middle of his final semester. We were unable to talk with the student, as his parents continued to make excuses for his absence from class/meetings and missing assignments. Another student declined our offer to have him work with a tutor, stating that he would rather take the remedial classes offered by the school at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, the School Board did not offer him that opportunity. As a result, he will be required to repeat the last semester of high school if he wants to graduate.
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. 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.
And, hopefully, those embarking on collegiate careers will pay it forward with a future student not otherwise so fortunate to have the gracious assistance of an anonymous financial benefactor.
To those who have supported the program, it hasn’t just made a difference to a few individuals; we think it has the potential to transform an entire country!
|Marilyn Cuellar||Honor Roll / Valedictorian|
|Ninel Pacheco||Honor Roll / Salutatorian|
|Keyla Chi||Honor Roll|
|Bristind Ramirez||Honor Roll|
|Analuisa Sanchez||Honor Roll|
|Axel Patt||Honor Roll|
|Angel McNab||Honor Roll|