From a February 3, 2020, Everett Public Schools news release.
Everett Public Schools Director Pam LeSesne recently returned from a Memory Mission trip, which she won in a drawing from Lifetouch. She helped construct an addition to the Cecaini Rio Grande School in the Dominican Republic during the trip.
Originally built on a Memory Mission trip in 2016, the Rio Grande School had room for just 100 pre-K through sixth grade students. The new addition makes room for 40 more students and includes a library, a computer lab, a medical infirmary, and administrative space.
In a Facebook live video LeSesne, along with a group of fellow National School Board Association (NSBA) members from Georgia, Maine and Ohio, shared her expectations and experiences on the trip.
“I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised at the location, high atop a mountain,” said LeSesne.
She went on to say that before the school was constructed in 2016, “...most of the kids didn’t go to school because they would have had to walk five miles round-trip on a mountainous, narrow road.”
LeSense continued, “We built walls, brick by brick. We hauled and mixed cement, installed bricks and scraped and painted walls. The local workers were helpful and patient trying to teach us how to build their walls and their school.”
She said the trip was not only an opportunity to build the addition, but also to build community engagement and to learn about kids in another part of the world.
“Kids are kids no matter where you go,” added LeSesne. “They want the same things our kids want, an education, to persevere through challenges and to become responsible citizens in their community.”
What especially warmed her heart was the generous donation of books, all in Spanish, from each of our Everett public schools that will help fill the shelves of the newly constructed library.
“I would like to thank the Everett Public Schools Board of Directors and all of our district schools for coming together and providing books for Rio Grande School. They are very appreciated,” gushed LeSesne.
Besides the physical work building the addition, LeSesne and fellow mission travelers also spent quality time with the kids, playing during recess, hanging out after school, and getting to know each another.
She was moved by the warmth and happiness of the children and expressed she’d, “...like to be able to continue to do this for the kids. It’s wonderful.”
Pam LeSesne with fellow school board members from across the country. Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools.
Pam LeSesne making lanyards with students. Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools.