A Dream Becoming a Reality
by Kathy Warnert
November 9 – 11, 2017, marks an historic moment for the Palapa Society of Todos Santos. The Grand Opening for the completed three-building Palapa Learning Center (PLC) campus and a special Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Elena Poniatowska Community Library is the culmination of years of effort by and for many people in this magical community.
GRAND OPENING EVENTS
- November 9 Conference and Q & A with Elena Poniatowska
- November 10 Dinner with Elena Poniatowska
- November 11 PLC Grand Opening and Library Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Please visit www.palapasociety.org for details of each event.
The dream began taking shape in 2014, when local couple David and Cindy Higgins offered a gift to build, staff, and outfit a new school and create a new home for the Palapa’s existing programs. “The opening of the PLC marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the amazing story of the Palapa Society,” say the Higgins. “We are honored to be a part of that story. The PLC will provide an exceptional environment for the education of young and old alike in Todos Santos. Regarding the Palapa School, it gives us great satisfaction to know the school will create new opportunities for its students and will prepare them to lead meaningful, choice-filled lives.”
THE PLC CAMPUS
The Palapa School is situated on the southeast corner of the property and opened in August 2017 to 7th and 8th graders. An additional grade will be added each year through grade 12. According to Director Juan Diego Gonzalez, “Knowledge is the greatest adventure of the human being. It’s a joy to watch students walk in with smiles on their faces and head off to their classrooms. These are our future leaders. Annual cost per student is $2,400 USD. We are hoping to have donations for scholarships so no worthy student is turned away.”
The Bridge to English (Puente) building is the second structure on campus, located on the northwest part of the property, and opened in October 2017. It houses four spacious classrooms for the Puente program serving over 120 students and 60 adults acquiring English. An inviting children and teen library is also found in the Puente building. Donations of books and videos in English, and especially Spanish, are always welcome for this now larger space. Children’s art classes also take place in this building. Jayna Schweitzer, director of the Puente programs observes, “The new Puente building allows more children and adults the opportunity to learn English in a larger, more spacious setting. We are thrilled to be in our new permanent home!”
The Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska is the third building on campus and opens in November 2017. This bilingual community library houses over 9,000 books, videos and periodicals. The opening of this airy, light-filled library will mark its modernization with a scanning system. Head librarian, Donna Schultz says, “Though we are moving to digital checkout and tracking, we will continue to maintain the warm, friendly atmosphere the library brings to the community.”
The library will be formally named for literary legend, Elena Poniatowska, considered the Grande Dame of Mexican literature. Elena Poniatowska graciously accepted saying, “It is a great honor to have my name on the library of the Palapa Learning Center. It is a distinction that deeply honors me, and I welcome that it promotes and supports education in Mexico.” The entire community is encouraged to attend, meet, and honor this amazing woman during the opening.
Elena Poniatowska, of Mexican-French descent, began writing professionally at age 18. Her most famous book, La Noche de Tlatelolco (Massacre in Mexico) was published in 1971 and describes the 1968 murders of up to 300 college students and civilians in Mexico City. This book earned her the prestigious Villaurrutia Award, a prize given in Mexico to a Latin American writer published in Mexico.
In 2013, she was awarded Spain’s El Premio Cervantes, the highest literary award for lifetime achievement. Only the fourth woman to receive this honor, Elena is arguably the most significant living author in all of Mexico, if not the entire Spanish-speaking world.
Palapa President Erick Ochoa says, “Our dream is becoming a reality. We thank Dave and Cindy Higgins for envisioning and supporting this effort. Now that the Palapa Learning Center is up and running, it’s up to the Palapa Society and private donations to fund these programs and keep them moving forward.”
For more information about the grand opening events, to DONATE, volunteer, or enroll a student in the Palapa School, please visit http://palapasociety.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.