14 years later, a desk is still a desk

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA (FOX19) - Joe Berninger still remembers clearly the day 14 years ago when he secured a donation of school desks from the administrators of St. Dominic's School on Delhi Ave. in Cincinnati.

At the time, Cooperative for Education had a plan to send to Guatemala as many school supplies from the US as they could as many times as they could. Joe and his brother Jeff scoured Greater Cincinnati in search of donations and gifts to send to partner schools in Guatemala.

The folks at St. Dominic's answered the call by donating dozens of old desks no longer needed during a school renovation.

Click Here To See Images of St. Dominic's

"We filled up four semis back then of metal desks, and this was the first school to get them," Berninger tells FOX19. "I bet two of those semis were just the desks from St. Dominics."

Tuesday, the Berninger brothers walked into Ayampuc Middle School near San Pedro, Guatemala and saw the desks once again.

14 years later all the desks are still in use, and in much the same condition. Ironically, all the students using those desks are also 14-years-old. Ayampuc Middle School teaches kids in grades 7-9. The school is located about an hour drive from Guatemala City, at the foot of a mountain.

The Co-Ed group on the snapshot tour drove to Ayampuc shortly after arriving in the capital.

"This was one of the first schools to enter our textbook program," says Berninger. "They learn basic computing as well here, and once they have that down, we teach them the Microsoft Suite."

Berninger says the students get about 90 minutes a week of computer time. Computers were provided through a partnership with Microsoft and a few other charities. He went on to explain that the computer curriculum focuses on getting the kids to use computers to solve problems in their community.

Students showed the Co-Ed volunteers their computer lab, which is located off the main courtyard of the school. There, the students had laid large pine needles all over the floor.

"It's a sign of respect," one Co-Ed staffer said. "It's so your feet don't touch the ground. When the Pope came to Guatemala a few years ago, they did this too, but all over the country."

Students then team up with volunteers to show off their computer skills.

"For me personally, it was really eye-opening because the child I worked with, he's doing the same thing my son gets paid to do," said Christine Alger, one of the volunteers.

Co-Ed volunteers also presented the school with supplies: donated soccer balls, athletic equipment, and a copier the school administrators had wanted for several years.

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