Dear Friends of the Zeke O’Connor School,
It gives us great pleasure to share with you the first issue of the Zeke O’Connor School Newsletter from Phaplu, Nepal. Since our establishment in 2011, the Zeke O’Connor School has been providing free education to the students of Solukhumbu who are in financial need. We have been receiving your relentless trust and collaboration since its inception. Your support and cooperation have helped us make this successful journey. We are honoured to be a part of Zeke O’Connor School.
On behalf of Zeke O’Connor School administration and family, we would like to thank donors, parents/guardians, well wishers, the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Board of Trustees, and School Management Committee for their continued support in making Zeke O’Connor School a center of excellence in education. Thank you for helping and trusting us with the education of the children who are our future and our promise.
This issue of Zeke O’Connor School Newsletter mostly covers news of events and activities conducted by the students and staff members for spring 2021.
Our significant appreciation goes to the members of staff and our students who worked in bringing out this newsletter. Happy reading!
Pemba T. Sherpa
Lhakpa R. Sherpa
Remembering a Hero
In Memory of our Founder
Mr. Zeke O’Connor
Our school community mourns the loss of our great founder, Mr. Zeke O’Connor. Through his dreams and perseverance, the first ever specialized school in science and math was established in the mountain region of Solukhumbu Nepal. He chose the village of Phaplu, high on a hill, to build his school. This place was very special to him and Sir Edmund Hillary. Phaplu was a favorite spot to visit when coming to Nepal to trek or work to improve the lives of the Sherpa. We are grateful for Mr. Zeke O’Connor’s dedication to his mission to “help the Sherpa help themselves.” We take his promise seriously and carry on his legacy by educating bright minds who will be the future of Nepal. Our school is continually improving and we hope to fulfill Mr. Zeke O’Connor’s dream.
Two services were held in memory of Mr. O’Connor. The first was at the school on Friday, March 12th where the students all brought tributes and laid them on a chair where Mr. Zeke O’Connor sat to view our assemblies. The next service was on Saturday, March 13th in the town of Salleri at the monastery. We all lit candles for him and said prayers of thanks and remembrance.
We will forever be grateful to Mr. Zeke O’Connor our hero.
An Unusual but Successful School Year
A Late Start Due to Covid-19
The government in Nepal shutdown schools throughout the country for many months. However, after the festival season in October, all schools, including the Zeke O’Connor School, started back in full with precautions. Parents and teachers feel confident as the COVID cases continue to decrease and the cases in the hospitals are down we can continue our learning in-person safely.
All the students returned to school following the shutdown. Grades 7/8/9/10 have approx. 30 students each. Grade 11 has 22 students. Grade 12 is 14 students. Parents are happy that their children are back to learning in our specialized science and math program!
2 teachers left after the festival and 2 new teachers were recruited. The government has adjusted course requirements knowing that this has been a short academic year. The grade 10 board exams which normally are in March have been extended until May. We will extend our school year to ensure that the full year of learning is achieved.
**Update – May 3, 2021 – The government has issued a temporary shutdown of schools due to the recent spike in COVID cases in our country. The teachers and students eagerly await permission to resume learning.
Activities Outside the Classroom
Students in all grades participated in the school quiz competition. There were four teams – yellow, blue, green, and red. Each team had four players. All the school cheered on their favorite team. Questions were on many subjects and the whole game was in English. In the end team YELLOW team was the victor! Then came BLUE, RED, and then GREEN. Congratulations to all!
One day in March we had and all-school field trip to visit Gumne Mera Gumba to study history, culture, and religion. The students and teachers enjoyed the adventure and everyone learned many lessons. It was a two hour walk from school for us to see this special Buddhist monastery. It takes almost 100 steps up to get to the monastery.
After School Sports
Our students play a variety of sports after school hours. Our of the favorite games is Kabaddi. This is a game that boys and girls play. It takes 7 people on a team and players need to run to the other side of the court and tag their opponents and comeback to their side safely without getting tackled. We have some very good Kabaddi players at Zeke O’Connor School! We always place very well in the District competition. Last year we came in second, but this year it was cancelled due to Covid19.
Students also love to play volleyball and soccer after school. This year we managed to play table tennis too! We were able to purchase the wood and make a table. We get creative as needed!
Our Parents and Our Donors
Thank You, Parents
Here is a recent photo from our quarterly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting. Our parents consider their children’s education extremely important. They make many sacrifices so that their students can attend Zeke O’Connor School. Every family pays for books and uniforms. This can be quite difficult, but it is critical for families to participate in the cost of education in some way. We are proud of our wonderful parents who partner with us to give our students the best education possible!
A New Program for Donors
Our SEHF partners in Canada and the U.S. have created a new program to help support our school and connect our students with sponsors. The program is called One Student One Family and it allows people to sponsor one student for a year or for their entire high school education. Sponsors receive photos, letters, and updates about their student and school news. Sponsors can contact their student if they wish and connect on a more meaningful way. We are grateful to Mrs. Mary Kaye in the U.S. for helping us to launch this program. If you would like to receive more information on One Student One Family please contact Mrs. Mary Kaye at firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to extend our thanks to the NextGen committee for hosting its first fundraiser on April 10th called A Night IN for Nepal. This was a special night of culinary excellence. All funds raised will help our wonderful school!