Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world (N. Mandela).

In Tijuana, high school is called “preparatoria,” or “prepa” for short. It’s usually a three-year program consisting of grades 10, 11, and 12. But…

But getting into public high school is a really tough process in Tijuana, and across Baja California.  Why?  Because you are not guaranteed admission. Approximately 10,000 students in Baja California who graduated from public middle schools this year will not be admitted to public high schools in August. There is simply not enough space, not enough schools.

(And why isn’t there enough space? This is where we pick up the ball of yarn and begin to untangle the threads of money, corruption, more…)

To secure one of the limited “seats” in public high school, kids need to have top-notch grades from middle-school.  And, they need to score very well on the entrance exam.  It’s a lot of pressure for any kid.  And remember, some of the youth at Vida Joven will be the first in their families to even go to high school. Talk about pressure!

For the past few years, when our Vida Joven kids have finished middle school, they haven’t been accepted on the “first round” into our neighborhood public high school. These kids have good grades.  But not “super-good-enough.”  The competition is so tough, and so stressful.

You can imagine how the stress then mounts up when a young teenager at Vida Joven finds out that she or he hasn’t been given a spot in high school.  The teen wonders what will happen next.  The staff at the orphanage make repeated visits to the schools to see if any spots have opened up. Etc., etc., etc.

This year, in the midst of all the “et ceteras,” house director Sylvia said, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?  Is this really what’s best for our kids?”  Sylvia then began to investigate other nearby schools.  And, this time, Sylvia expanded her search to include private schools.  BINGO!  Now, Alejandra, who begins high school next Monday (whoo-hoo!) is going to attend a bilingual (Spanish-English) private school that is just a few blocks away from Vida Joven.

Let’s see what she cooks!

In the mornings, Alejandra will take her high school classes. In the afternoons, she will get to choose from an array of technical-vocational options, from cooking to criminology.

The other middle school girls are already excited to think that THEY might go to high school there, too! The school has a very good reputation academically, and is eager to welcome our kids.

“Tuition cost?” you ask.  Approximately $100 (U.S.) per month.

$100 per month that would have been out of reach if it weren’t for our donors.  Donors who want these kids to live good and fruitful lives.  Donors who want the kids and staff alike to breathe easily, rather than worrying about jumping through public school entrance hoops.

“This school makes it all so simple for us,” Sylvia said.  “They even sell their uniforms right at the school.  Usually we have to run around shopping for uniforms.”

Here’s to another new opportunity for the Vida Joven kids, beginning with Alejandra.  Now let’s see how she does with those cooking, or criminology, or…whatever!…classes.  Thank you for giving these young people the opportunity to learn and to grow into their beautiful fullness.