Post Hurricane Maria Update

Dear Washburn School,

We are proud of our 15-year commitment to service and education in the Coto Laurel, Ponce, Puerto Rico community. Just a week before we were hit by Hurricane Maria we were able to give TWO truckloads of donations to our neighboring Caribbean islands who were hit by Hurricane Irma. Now, we are faced with a much different reality.

Hurricane Maria has hit our home. Our Washburn campus. Our Faculty. Our Staff. Our Students. Our family. Our Coto Laurel, Ponce Community. No one was spared from the devastation .

From the uprooting of all our beautiful trees to losing the roofs of our just recently renovated summer investments and elementary school classrooms.

Maria affected each and every one of us. All of us have no power, no water, no communications. The needs are varied; everything from the smallest luxury like ice, to the most basic requirement: a place to sit down or lay one's 
Many of our teachers and personnel lost their roofs and even homes. We have reports that our janitor, Rosa, who had the 2017 graduation dedicated to her, her son and also employee, our Cosey English teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Garcia lost their roofs and all their property during the storm. UPDATE 10/4/17:  As communications start to normalize a bit, we are sad to inform that three other teachers recently reported losing their roofs and part of their homes.

In this spirit, we want to expand our "Reconstructing the Washburn Family" campaign to include the affected by Maria. ALL the money goes to the actual rescue and and recovery of the damage Maria has caused to our school, contributions to the teachers most affected, and our community.

We have pledged to make a mural representing the re-building efforts and will write the name of each donor as a symbol of their contribution. There is no minimum or limit to the amount you can contribute!

If you were waiting for the right time to give, this is it. This is an opportunity to help your school, and the people who make up the community around it.

Until the school is up and running again with full communications, you can contact Ronnie Lopezcepero at further information or email him at

The Go Fund Me Page will be turned over to Washburn School for administration and ultimate management once communications re-establish in Ponce.



We will post pictures of the damages to our community as soon as Ponce and our community get communications back online.


We want to maintain our commitment with our students so they can start their high quality multilingual education as soon as possible. We believe that students should start to have a sense of normality as we seek what is best for their mental health and educational needs. Therefore, we are ready to start class, despite not having electricity. Students that cannot make it to school will not be penalized given the circumstances.

Communication out of Ponce continues to be scarce and limited, but we were able to compile this report :

° Class will start tomorrow, October 4th, 2017 as half a day of class for Pre-K and Kindergarten from 7:30 am to 11:30 pm, 1st to 6th grade until 12 pm, and until 12:30 pm for 7th to 12th grade.


° Since most people do no have running water, we will be flexible with the dress code.


° We have a report of a three teachers and two other employees completely losing their homes.


• Washburn School donated the semester worth of meat before it went bad to shelters around Ponce ( El Tuque & Punta Diamante) and fed 300 for several meals when food was low right after Hurricane Maria hit.


•Many students have passed by the school to visit.


• Washburn received extensive damange and has had crew helping repair the roofs our school lost and cracked electrical grid since the day after the hurricane.


•We lost almost all our trees so the tree branch hazard has been removed.


•We will be enhancing security measures for our campus.


Hurricane Maria ... What happened ?

As many may already know, Puerto Rico was hit by a catastrophic hurricane two weeks ago that took down electricity for the whole country, wiped out all types of communications, and left 3.4 million American citizens without water.
The island has been focusing on rescue missions, but now food and gas are low and Puerto Ricans are waiting in line for 10-13 hours for food and gas and thousands of people are waiting outside banks which have just reopened to get cash. There is complete power outage on the streets, phone services have not been restored and Puerto Rico airports have not yet reopened to commercial flights.

There is so much need – the entire island is a disaster zone. The conditions are 10 times worse than we expected. But we also found an amazing strength and perseverance among the people of Puerto Rico.

We will go through this together. We will need to unite like never before to get out of this stronger. Any donation amount will help our teachers, school, and community. Thank you and God bless you all.

Ronnie Lopezcepero, M.Ed., M.S., M.A.

(Writing from Florida, USA)