July 2023: Palapa Society News

Bienvenido Óscar Parra

Please join us in welcoming Oscar Parra who recently became part of the team as the new Palapa Learning Center Operations Manager and Legal Liaison.

By sheer coincidence, Oscar was born and raised in Todos Santos, in his family’s home, located on today’s Palapa Learning Center site. When The Palapa was located at the house in the San Vicente neighborhood, he learned English in the Bridge to English program and fed his love of reading at the Palapa library. Palapa BECA (Scholarships) enabled him to attend public middle school, high school and university. After graduating with a focus on Information Technology in high school, Oscar graduated with a degree in Law from Autónoma University in La Paz. 

Oscar was most recently working as a Legal Advisor for the City of La Paz, where he ensured the city remained legally compliant in criminal and civil cases. In his role, he developed and enacted new policies and procedures, and gained extensive management experience by overseeing a team of lawyers and partnering with many other civic departments. Not one to shy away from tough conversations, he resolved and diffused disputes every day using mediation and conflict resolution methods.

Oscar is already making an impact by assisting in the development of The Palapa Society’s Human Resources policy and procedures while overseeing much-needed campus maintenance and repairs. We have been impressed with Oscar's overall professionalism, legal background and enthusiasm to wear many hats in his new position. He is eager to represent The Palapa Society because he credits this organization for everything he is today.

The Palapa School:

Open House Highlights 

With just a few weeks left in the school year, The Palapa School opened its doors to the community including families of students and prospective students, to learn more about the philosophy of the school and see the work that’s been accomplished. Outside, the school was decorated with students’ artwork spanning the Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Surrealism, and Dadaism art movements.

The Science class students showcased their wind power generator, electrical currents, and genetic hybridization of plants projects and demonstrated the differences between conduction, convection and radiation in the transference of thermal energy. Inside, each classroom held presentations of their work in mathematics, language, and more. We are proud of the students taking on this challenging curriculum and for sharing their progress with us.

Human Rights for All

As part of the Community Development and Leadership focus, Palapa High School students are learning about the importance of global human rights. As part of this unit, some of our students opted to participate in the “No Discrimination” event organized for LGBTQIA Pride 2023 celebrations in Todos Santos. 

The stands were full at Pinos Park, where teachers, friends, and families enthusiastically waved rainbow Pride flags while watching a local Hip Hop Dance troupe perform 8 uniquely choreographed dances. The stage was surrounded by a variety of booths that included treats for sale, plus face-painting, and information about health and safety. Three local speakers then shared their experiences with coming out to family and friends, and talked about how to find or build supportive and healthy communities for LGBTQIA youth who may be experiencing discrimination in their lives.

Thank you to Teacher Carmen and Student Maria for leading this effort and demonstrating what it means to be an active supporter of human rights in our community.

Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska

Summer News from the Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska (BEP)

By Paty Baum, Director 

The library will be open all summer keeping our regular days and hours. Check our Facebook page for updates. We may get A/C, which will allow volunteers and patrons to be a little more comfortable in the heat of summer. It's a good time to browse our new section about climate change as you experience it in real time.

We are in the process of purchasing about 200 new books for the library. Thank you to everyone who offered requests for titles. Books will begin to arrive in early July. These purchases were made with funds from our general operating budget, so thanks to all who donate regularly to the Palapa Society for this acquisition. There are currently over 9,000 books and 250 DVDs to enjoy. 

Puente al Inglés para Niños

(Children's English Program)

Summertime Environmental Education Workshops

by Jacki Gillespie, Director 

The Bridge to English program is out for summer and our Environmental Education program is now underway, after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

The Water Safety course is available to up to 12 Puente students who have shown exceptional maturity and willingness to learn during English classes. They start with swimming lessons in a private pool at Hotel Serendipity, followed by swimming lessons in the Pacific Ocean at Punta Lobos beach, and a surf lesson at Cerritos beach.

The Environmental workshops are open to children in the community, up to 20 students on a first-come, first served basis. Registration is announced on The Palapa Society’s Facebook page and via flyers posted in the community. One workshop focuses on pets, including how to care for them and the importance of adoption and sterilization. We’ll take a field trip to a horse sanctuary ranch to learn about their work with rescued horses, and lastly we’ll hold a Marine Animals workshop. 

This is a great opportunity for students to continue learning and practicing their English.

Contact Director Jacki Gillespie by clicking here.

Puente al Inglés para Adultos

(Adult English Program)

You’re Invited - Summer Intercambio Party 

By Kate Lewis, Director

The Puente al Inglés Adultos (Bridge to English for Adults) program will finish this quarter in mid-July. At the end of each quarter, we like to hold an Intercambio, where Puente students can practice their language skills with native English speakers at a potluck party.

We will take a short break to work on improving our curriculum and preparing for our next term, which begins September 20th. Inscription dates will be announced via Facebook, flyers, and Speaker Car as the date approaches. If you have friends, workers, or acquaintances who would benefit from learning English, please consider sponsoring their registration fee, which is $500 MX pesos per quarter.

If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers or participating in the Intercambio, please contact Kate at adultenglish@palapasociety.org Feliz Verano! 

Contact Director Kate Lewis by clicking here.

Special Thank You

The Letzerich Family has been visiting Todos Santos for years and have been longtime supporters of The Palapa Society. Daughter Annabelle has volunteered as a Teacher’s Aid with the Puente al Inglés program since 2017, and is currently a Junior at The Kinkaid High School in Houston, Texas. Over the past 6 years, she has led school supply drives, delivering a broad range of materials each year to The Palapa.

Last year’s donation also included a pickle ball set, which Palapa School students are enjoying every day. This year, Annabelle worked with her Kinkaid School Spanish teacher to ship a pallet of 18 boxes filled with over 800 books, instructional DVDs, and school supplies that included physics experiment kits with instructions provided by Kinkaid teachers.

Thank you to Yacht Aid Global for transporting Palapa Society materials from San Diego to our campus, saving us hundreds of dollars in delivery fees.

June Donors

Maryann Terry Galpin-Plattner

Paola Alvarez Molina

Cynthia Forrester

Our Family of Monthly Donors


Eleanor Andrews

Suzanne & Rick Arnold

Heather Bauer and Jerry Back

Gail & Scott Bosch

Sally & David Brower

Marjolein Brugman

Paul & Pam Bumann

Vickie Butler

Ryan Casey

Dennis Chapman

Karen & Judd Cuenin

Julie & Michael Dandurand

Elizabeth Farner

Ken Ford

Kristen & Rick Friedman

Jane Gehring

Virginia Gollery

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Jane Hall

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Marc Hankin

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Marimar Higgins

Anthony & Lee Irons

Rhoda Jacobs

Coach & Marilyn Jacques

Bonnie & AJ Johnston

Janna Kinkade

Brian & Lynn Kuske

Marshall Laird

Teresa Laird

Jay Masaschi

Connie & Andy Mical

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Chris Miller & Diana Pandell

Sharon Morris

Dennis & Nancy Naigle

Cathy & William Nation

Sophia & Stephen Nicholas

Patricia O'Connell

Maria Olaisen & Mike Block

Deborah Parrish

Kristin Rust

Erin Sands

Jessica Spenser

Sydney & Greg Schweitzer

Tori Sepulveda & Oscar Rosales

Nancy Simpson

Angelica Velez Mendez

Stephen Carver & Stephanie Vetter

Kathy Warnert

Lisa Welsch

Robert Bruce Westbrook

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The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. exists to make a positive difference in people’s lives through inspirational quality education and timely support through community service and programs.

It is the vision of The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. to be a sustainable, accessible community focused organization in which quality educational programs empower choice filled lives and create positive transformational change.
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