ACS gearing up for Sister Schools trip to Honduras

Noah Galloway praises the Alabaster City Schools Sister Schools project during an April 26 fundraiser lunch at Thompson High School. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Noah Galloway praises the Alabaster City Schools Sister Schools project during an April 26 fundraiser lunch at Thompson High School. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – When television star Noah Galloway looked at his calendar for the 10-day period from June 12-22, he couldn’t believe it.

Thompson High School engineering teacher Brian Copes had just asked Galloway if he would be interested in traveling with an Alabaster City Schools group to Jutiapa, Honduras in mid-June.

“I thought, ‘I really hope I can fit that into my schedule,’” Galloway said. “Then, I looked at my calendar, and there was perfect gap right there. I called my team and said, ‘Block that off, because I’ve got somewhere I need to be.’”

As a result, Galloway will join a team of about 50 students, teachers and chaperones as they depart Birmingham for Jutiapa, Honduras, in mid-June on a journey to create a better quality of life for the town’s residents and establish a permanent connection between Alabaster and Central America.

During the trip, about 20 Alabaster students will join their teachers and chaperones, such as Galloway, as they complete several projects to benefit the town. While there, the group will deliver and install computers for the town’s school, will install small water chlorinators to make the town’s water supply safer, will volunteer in the town’s medical clinic and will install a device to create medical-grade bleach to help the clinic to improve its disinfecting procedures.

THS science teacher John Cole, left, showcases a portable water chlorinator the school’s students will install in Jutiapa, Honduras, this summer. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

THS science teacher John Cole, left, showcases a portable water chlorinator the school’s students will install in Jutiapa, Honduras, this summer. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

In advance of the trip, the Sister Schools team held a fundraiser lunch at the school emceed by Fox 6 news anchor Sarah Verser on April 26 in an effort to spread the word about the project’s benefits.

Galloway, who has used a prosthetic leg since losing portions of his left arm and leg while serving with the Army in Iraq in 2005, said he is happy to help the team fit Jutiapa residents with prosthetic limbs previously created by Copes’ students.

“In this great country, you can get around with a wheelchair,” Galloway said. “If you’ve ever been to a third-world country, that is not an option.”

Rene Day, the assistant director of workforce development for the Alabama Department of Education, said the ACS Sister Schools project is a model for the rest of the state.

“We want students to understand that there is a world outside their small world of high school,” Day said. “These (Alabaster) students are experiencing that in a way we’d like all students to experience.”

Copes said he is looking for the June trip to strengthen the bond between Jutiapa and Alabaster.

“We feel that if we can give them a 21st-century education, their community will be impacted tremendously,” Copes said.

To learn more about the project, or to sponsor a student, visit Facebook.com/acssisterschools.