2015 beneficiaries of the scholarship award. Photo courtesy Amigos de Alumnos

Did you know it costs money to attend high school in Baja? The Mexican education system supports students up to grade 9 and after that there is a cost – approximately $300 US per student per year. That may not sound like much but if your family lives in a small fishing village like La Ventana/El Sargento, it can be quite challenging to support your son or daughter for three years of high school. Many mothers work part-time as housekeepers to try and supplement the family’s income. The fathers are mostly fishermen with limited income and without help, some very bright and motivated young people do not have the opportunity go on to higher learning.

In 2011 the Amigos de Alumnos organization was formed. Administered by a small group of volunteers, they started fundraising efforts to help local families send their kids to high school, largely pulling from the kiteboarders and windsurfers who vacation in La Ventana/El Sargento for the winter.  Their efforts were so successful that the group was able to offer high school scholarships to five students that year.  Since then, they have supported 25 more students.  Of this number only six dropped from the program, mainly because they could not reach the minimum grade required to receive support.
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The 11-mile island crossing and treasure hunt is a highlight of the event. Photo Paul Lang

The Kiteboarder and Tim Hatler of Palapas Ventana, organizer of the annual La Ventana Classic, are proud supporters of Amigos de Alumnos. Past fundraising efforts have benefited the program but for 2016, all proceeds from the event will benefit the local high school scholarship fund.

The photo of the six youngsters  leading this announcement shows the kids who will be starting high school this August. The students’ stories are varied: One girl lost her father this past year and one boy’s father died the year before. So far, five of the scholarship students have graduated from high school.  Two of them are attending college in La Paz and studying business management and nursing. True success stories!

The career hopes of the 20 students currently in the program are varied.  They want to be marine biologists, teachers, engineers and chefs. However, they all share a common goal: To be able to improve their lives and those of their families. One applicant said, “I plan to become an engineer in robotics and invent something to change the world (for some good of course).” The Amigos de Alumnos scholarship program is helping aspiring students reach their goals. Next year, with committed proceeds from The La Ventana Classic, even more students will be supported.
Mark your calendars for the return of the La Ventana Classic and Kitexpo, January 5-10, 2016! It’s a great time for all involved and your participation will help local families educate their children and realize their academic potential. Click here for event details on the 2016 event. We hope to see you in Baja!
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