Student start charity for schools in Dominican Republic |

Student start charity for schools in Dominican Republic

Tahoe Expedition Academy high school students Tyler McCormick, left, Hunter Vegh, Henrik Rogers, Peyton Broll, Johan Sotelo, Michelle McCay-Moran, Bryce Deterring, Aine O'Toole and Beck Marshall traveled to Naranjo, a small community in the Dominican Republic, to help build a preschool.
Submitted photo/Johan Sotelo

Each year Tahoe Expeditionary Academy sponsors students on two service trips to expand their knowledge of the world beyond the surrounding community.

This year Johan Sotelo, a sophomore at the academy, along with seven other classmates traveled to the Dominican Republic to help aid students in the small community of Naranjo.

Working closely with the Batey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the living standards in the Dominican Republic, the students and two teachers worked for 10 days to help build a preschool for young students. Sotelo said that funds from had been provided by their Tahoe Expeditionary Academy for buildings materials and supplies to build the school.

“I loved that trip because I love volunteering,” said Sotelo. “Seeing that kids can only eat one time a day because they can’t afford anything other than that was really eye opening. Sometimes they can’t even access their school because the rivers and streets flood.”

When the students returned they were required to produce a video detailing the experience to present to their parents and members of the school. Sotelo said they felt that they could do more and that they didn’t want their service to stop there. They created a campaign to help raise additional funds to go towards the education of students in the Naranjo.

“Everyone wanted to help because of all the experiences we get in the states that they don’t have,” said Sotelo.

According to the Sotelo, the students wanted to focus on Madelaes Home For Girls in Santo Domingo, a home that helped send girls to a single university. He said they wanted to raise funds to allow those students to attend other universities of their choice.

“We want to make it so they can choose to go wherever they want,” he said.

As their campaign is in its early stages, they so far have only raised $800. Sotelo said he wants to keep the campaign going until they return to school in the fall. If the fundraiser is successful, he hopes it will get passed down to future students at the academy, so selected schools in the Dominican Republic can continue to be provided with supplies and financial support.

Sotelo created a website with more information on the project at which donations can be made.

For more information on the project or to donate funds visit

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at or 530-550-2652.

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