Frontier students help build homes in Honduras

MARIETTA – As Zach Cunningham, 17, of Newport entered his home early Saturday morning, fatigued from jet lag and building houses in the summer heat of Honduras, he felt the cool breeze of air-conditioning and was instantly reminded of how grateful he was for all that he had.

“Going to Honduras taught me to be grateful for my family, my house and all of the little things we have here,” said Cunningham.

This past weekend, a group of 30 Frontier High Middle School students and eight staff members headed by Spanish teacher Jennifer Wright returned from a 10-day trip to Honduras where they built houses, passed out food bags, visited orphanages, played with the local children and learned a lot about how much they have in America.

“Basically, I wanted the students to get a service learning experience where they could practice their Spanish, but also do it while they were expanding their world view, experiencing another culture, and making a difference,” said Wright.

Wright added that many of these students wouldn’t have normally had this opportunity.

“I would say a significant percentage of our kids would never have had the chance to leave the area,” said Wright. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of them.”

Before the trip, the students and staff members held multiple fundraising events such as raffle drawings, T-shirt sales, homemade pie sales and much more.

Frontier High Middle School guidance counselor Holly Cunningham said students and staff were able to go to Honduras based solely on these events.

“The trip was funded entirely through fundraising and donations,” said Cunningham. “They worked very hard for the past several months.”

Cunningham noted that this was a significant opportunity for the Frontier High Middle School and the students there.

“It’s the first time an undertaking like this has happened,” she said.

The school and the community helped tremendously in raising money for the students to attend the trip, according to Ashley Brookover, 36, of Newport, a Frontier High Middle School teacher who accompanied the students on the trip.

“The high school and the community were 100 percent supportive,” said Brookover. “We came home and there were signs everywhere; they were excellent when it came to supporting the trip.”

Wright also noted the unique drive of the community to support the students and the trip.

“You know, from the very beginning I wanted to do this and I wanted the kids to have this experience, but it’s a small school and it’s a really small town,” said Wright. “It was a lot of money to get the kids there; I had no idea how a really small community would rally around the kids like they did.”

While in Honduras, the students and staff members worked within the community to help make it a better place to live.

Brookover’s daughter, Lexi Brookover, 17, of Newport, said helping the people of Honduras was one of her favorite parts of the trip.

“It warmed my heart, especially passing out the food bags; we got to see the families smiling and laughing,” said Brookover. “Something small like bubbles changed their whole day and mood.”

Zach Cunningham said he also enjoyed passing out the food bags and recalled a grandmother racing down a hill at full speed toward the food truck, excited to be receiving the food bags.

“Her family was jumping up and down because that was food for them for two and a half weeks,” added Cunningham.

Inevitably, the students’ lives were touched just as much as those they helped, according to Sophia Brown, 15, of Newport.

“The whole thing was eye-opening, really,” said Brown. “It was an amazing experience; I don’t know if I can really sum it up in so many words.”

The students learned so much about the culture and the lifestyles that differ from their own. Lexi Brookover noted the differences were fascinating.

“It was very different, but I enjoyed it a lot,” she said. “It was cool seeing how different things are over there – how they drive, how they act, the food.”

Ashley Brookover said they had to adjust to a new way of life during their 10-day stay.

“They had to learn how to adjust to a different climate and different food,” she said. “The living environment was the biggest shock to them.”

Now that they are back, the students are noticing just how much they learned while being away in Honduras. Brown noted that the people there taught her a lot.

“A little bit of love goes a long way,” she said. “You don’t have to do much to make an impact on someone’s life; just learning that from them changes you as well.”