The long awaited dedication of the new primary and preschool building in Sassier will be held on May 9.  The 18 classroom school was completed last summer and has been the home of Lekol Michael Heiming (Michael Heiming School) since September.

More than 500 primary and preschool students attend classes in what has been called “the best school in the Grand Anse Province.”  The school has room for school offices, a nurse’s room, a library and a teachers’ room.   Completion of the building ended the chronic overcrowding situation at the St Jean Baptiste Parish schools, which have grown faster than our ability to complete new facilities-and never had any space for facilities like a library.

Some of you will recall that 10 years ago, 200 children from Kindergarten to 4th Grade attended school in the Church in Sassier.  This year, more than 850 students from Preschool to 13th Grade attend classes every day in two school buildings with 34 classrooms.  (See related story about Graduation in June)

Sacred Heart Teens played a big role in making the school so beautiful.  Last summer, 13 teens and 5 parents traveled to Sassier and painted many of the classrooms and outside galleries, along with teens and parents from Sassier.  It was a fantastic team effort, rewarding for everyone.

In addition the Sassier school, another school building will be dedicated on May 11 in the village of Voldrogue, near Sassier.  This 8 classroom building will provide space r preschool and primary education for children in St Ann Parish, which was part of St Jean Baptiste Parish until last summer.   A third school, located in the village of Tozia (2 hours from Sassier) is almost finished and will be dedicated this summer.

All the school construction has been made possible through the hard work and generosity of the Association for Schools in Hispaniola, a German group which provided nearly $1 million to build the three schools.  The new school in Sassier is named in honor of Michael Heiming who was the co-president of the Association until his untimely death last year.   Were it not for Michael and Barbara Becker, now the president of the association, none of these schools would exist.

Barbara and Frank von Reinen, another member of the Association, will attend both dedications and will be visiting other potential sites for new schools, which are being built for the Diocese of Jeremie.

All three schools were built under the supervision of Zanmi Granadans (Partners with the Grand Anse), a Haitian not-for-profit organization led by Fr. Edner Mars, Pastor of St Jean Baptiste Parish, and Mondy Pamphile, the group’s executive director.  Zanmi Sasye-Partners with Sassier and Sacred Heart provide technical and fundraising assistance for the school construction effort.

Watch for pictures of the dedication celebrations in a couple of weeks.