By Samantha SLAYBACK
After taking an eye-opening trip to the Philippines last summer, Crescenta Valley High School social sciences teacher Pia Hugo took it upon herself to help Dalipuga Central School with its dire condition.
In September, an article about the school raised awareness of the immediate needs of students at Dalipuga Central School and, as a result, it also increased donations by the foothill community. According to Hugo, the original goal was to raise $6,000 – the estimated cost to build two new classrooms. But after all was tallied, Hugo and those who helped her managed to raise $10,500.
Donations were sent starting as early as October and continued through December. After all of the donations were sent to the Philippines, the principal reached out to Hugo to thank her, her family and those who donated.
“Your support of our school will never be in vain because the children of Dalipuga will really benefit from these classrooms for many generations. I know this was made possible only because of the generosity of all your donors,” wrote Dalipuga Central School Principal Nieves Ebon. “No words can express our happiness.”
After informing Hugo of the progress on the two new classrooms and thanking her and her family profusely, Ebon closed his letter by addressing all of those who donated.
“Please extend our thanks to all the people who have supported us in this endeavor,” continued Ebon. “Without their financial assistance, nothing would have happened and the children would still be learning under very dangerous conditions.”
The two classrooms were near completion before the end of the year. Not only did these new rooms provide a nicer, safer and overall better learning environment for the students, the donations for these new rooms may have saved the students’ lives. It was discovered during demolition of the old buildings that termites had weakened both the walls and the roofs, meaning the buildings would have likely caved in on the students when the first storm hit, probably in January.
The students and staff celebrated their good fortune – and their new classrooms – by hosting a Christmas party in one of the new rooms.
“Aside from using the money raised from the fundraiser to pay for the cost of the new rooms, which actually amounted to close to $8,000 [because of unexpected building expenses], we also decided to surprise the entire school staff and all the children at the school with special Christmas dinners with the extra proceeds,” said Hugo.
The money left over after the cost of construction and the Christmas dinners will be used to purchase necessary school supplies for the students. These supplies will be sent over to Dalipuga soon.
Hugo expressed her gratitude to the La Crescenta and CVHS communities for the help and donations, saying that the people of these communities have some of the “biggest hearts” she has ever known.
“Across the ocean, thousands of miles away, a group of very happy children with big smiles are sitting in their new classrooms right now and I know that, if they could, they would say to each and every one of our donors, ‘maraming salamat!’ which means ‘Thank you so much,’” Hugo said. “Not only were they given the gifts of brand new buildings … they were also given the gift of knowing they are loved, they haven’t been forgotten and that they truly matter.”