THS partnering with town in Honduras

    Thompson High School engineering teacher Brian Copes, left, brought a group of Calera High School students to Jutiapa, Honduras in 2012, and is now working on a sister schools partnership between Jutiapa and Alabaster. (File)

Thompson High School engineering teacher Brian Copes, left, brought a group of Calera High School students to Jutiapa, Honduras in 2012, and is now working on a sister schools partnership between Jutiapa and Alabaster. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – In about a year-and-a-half, groups of students from Thompson High School could be helping their peers in Honduras have a better life, after the Alabaster Board of Education approved a sister school proposal during a Dec. 8 meeting.

The School Board voted unanimously during the meeting to approve the agreement, which was brought to the board by THS engineering teacher Brian Copes. Through the program, Copes will travel to Jutiapa, Honduras, before the end of the 2014-2015 school year to assess the town’s needs before bringing the information back to Alabaster.

Copes said classes at THS will then examine Jutiapa’s needs and determine ways they can help before organizing a lengthy trip to the country “In about a year-and-a-half.”

“That trip will probably include some health sciences students, some IT students and some science students,” Copes said during an interview after the meeting.

Copes is no stranger to helping those in need in Honduras. In 2012, he escorted 10 Calera High School students to Jutiapa, during which the students fit 14 amputees with prosthetic legs made from recycled car parts and taught the residents to build basic utility vehicles from a kit.

“During that trip, Jutiapa graduated their first high school student in the history of the town,” Copes told School Board members. “They had to bus to a bigger town for school, and many of them couldn’t afford it. Most people there make $2.50 a day, if they’re lucky.”

Today, the town has a seven-room school building called Manuel Bonilla, Cefalu, giving Jutiapa easier access to education.

When the THS students travel to the town, information technology students will help to set up unused Alabaster City Schools computers at Manuel Bonilla, science students will help to install a chlorination system to filter the town’s water and health sciences students will help at a clinic near the village.

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers and School Board members praised the partnership, and said Alabaster students will benefit from being exposed to another culture and helping to create a better life in another part of the world.