Group delivered, books, money to damaged school in March

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FARMINGTON — Three students from Navajo Preparatory School have completed a project to collect and donate books and supplies for a school damaged by typhoons in the Philippines.

Since last year, seniors Kyra Capitan, Charvel Nez and Jonnie Woody have collected books and money to help the Padre Gregorio Crisostomo Integrated School, which serves kindergarten through eighth-grade students in Cabanatuan City.

Navajo Prep is an International Baccalaureate school. As part of the curriculum, seniors are required to complete a project that focuses on creativity, activity and service.

The trio decided to collect books after learning about the damage the school's library sustained from typhoons in 2015 and 2017.

They participate in a reading group at Navajo Prep, something that helps them understand the role reading plays in education, Woody said.

"We know it's important for children to read," she said.

They collected approximately 350 books since September. They also raised funding for the project by selling raffle tickets and food, and placing donation jars in classrooms and launching a Gofundme account.

Their efforts generated approximately $600 for the school, and they delivered the money and donated supplies to the school during a trip to the Philippines on March 12.

Navajo Prep science teacher Yolanda Flores helped the students with the project and traveled with them to the Philippines to make the delivery.

Flores said the school in Cabanatuan City serves approximately 1,700 students, and the supplies the Navajo Prep students delivered were based on a list of needed items compiled by Global Peace Youth, a division of an international nonprofit organization called the Global Peace Foundation.

The books were scheduled for shipment in January but an issue with the shipping company delayed pickup until March 24, Flores said.

Capitan said the Padre Gregorio Crisostomo Integrated School students were happy to receive the supplies and monetary donation.

During the visit to the school, Capitan, Nez and Woody wore traditional Navajo clothing and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the Navajo language.

"They became instant celebrities. All the kids wanted pictures with them," Flores said.

Several students asked for hugs, Nez added.

The group also toured the school and saw the condition of the library, which continues to house flood-damaged books, but the real heartache came when they saw the computer lab. The room was empty because computers and other electronic equipment were destroyed in the flood, Woody said.

"When you go into that computer lab, it's just for show," she said. "It's just there … that's what made me sad because the school is supposed to cater to over 1,000 students."

Since returning home, the Navajo Prep students have talked about ways to continue helping the school. They have not formalized plans, but Flores suggested they mentor other students interested in continuing the project.

As for the donation of books, Nez said the students now have material to help continue their education.

"I thought we should donate these books to them because their books were ruined. Education is based off of books," Nez said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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