March 19, 2015

Honduran school celebrates 50 years of impacting students

Written by  Chris Fretz
A group of students works together during one of the field day activities during the 50th anniversary of Academia Los Pinares in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A group of students works together during one of the field day activities during the 50th anniversary of Academia Los Pinares in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo provided by Academia Los Pinares.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Academia Los Pinares celebrated 50 years of providing bilingual Christian education in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on February 27-28, 2015.

Established in 1964 by Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) as a boarding school for missionary children, Academia Los Pinares has grown into one of the premier private schools in Tegucigalpa, serving over 800 students with a full educational program for prekindergarten through twelfth grade with instruction in both Spanish and English.

“Numerous students from Los Pinares now go on to attend Ivy League schools; it’s really become known for academic excellence,” said Steve Shank, pioneering coach at EMM.

The anniversary celebration – “Celebrating 50 Years of God's Faithfulness to Academia Los Pinares” – included a field day and an evening dinner on Friday and an open house and worship celebration on Saturday.

“It was a festive weekend that gave glory to God for the many ways in which He has blessed Los Pinares,” said Wendell Nofziger, an EMM worker who currently serves as a teacher at the school. “A good number of alumni and former teachers returned for the celebration. Around 300 participated in the Friday night dinner, and many took part in the Saturday open house and worship service.”

Throughout the weekend, many people shared stories of how the school has impacted them, cultivating their faith in God and forming them socially, academically, and spiritually. Spiritual formation has always been a priority for administrators, with regular chapel services and biblical teaching as part of the school’s curriculum and activities.

“Many alumni gave testimony of how God used Los Pinares to work in their lives in powerful ways and to help set them on a life course of following the Lord,” said Nofziger.

Although the school was originally founded for missionary children, admission was gradually opened to include other English-speaking students who commuted daily to the school. The school was officially recognized by the Honduran government in January of 1974. In 1977, the school, which had been run by EMM, was turned over to the Honduran Mennonite Church.

The church considered closing the school since running a bilingual school was not one of its priorities at the time. However, parents organized to save the school, asking various evangelical missions organizations to get involved. Parents worked with those organizations to create a new Academia Los Pinares, which began in the fall of 1977. Classroom space was rented until land was found and purchased by the new school and new facilities were built.

Throughout the years, the school has continued to interact with the international missions community.

“Los Pinares recruits teachers from various places, including Honduras and the U.S.,” said Shank. “The school works with teachers to provide housing and a stipend, so it’s a great set-up for teachers interested in a missions teaching role.”