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Justin and Denali: A Story of Friendship

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by Natalie Tabor

Escuela de Guadalupe fifth graders, Denali and Justin, have been best friends since their first day of Kindergarten. Justin comes from a Spanish-speaking home, and Denali comes from a bilingual household, where his mom is the English anchor and his dad, the Spanish anchor. Their families come from different backgrounds, but that never stopped these two from getting along famously. Even now, their parents have grown to be good friends, spending time together over shared meals.


By age four, Denali had been diagnosed as legally deaf. He underwent cochlear implant surgery to address his hearing loss, but doctors urged his parents to surrender the goal of bilingualism for their son. Contrary to their doctors’ advice, Denali’s parents enrolled him at Escuela de Guadalupe, where he found not only a best friend but also remarkable academic success. Justin was born with hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain that can result in significant developmental and physical disabilities. The doctors successfully performed brain surgery at just a few weeks old.


On their first day at Escuela, more than five years ago, Denali and Justin didn’t see their many cultural or socioeconomic differences. They saw the thing that they had in common—heads with hardware. :-) Today, Denali and Justin are your typical 10-year-old boys, playing soccer, trying out new video games, and cooking up shared plans for future business ventures.


I am thankful for my best friend because he is always nice to me, we both love drawing, and he helps me when I have difficulties.” - Denali


“. . . I help him and he helps me, ‘cause that’s what friends are for.” -Justin


This year, Escuela de Guadalupe is celebrating 20 years of friendships like Denali and Justin’s. Our unique dual-language model is breaking down barriers and bringing together the next generation of diverse, compassionate changemakers.


By donating to support need-based student scholarships, you can help to make Escuela’s transformational program financially accessible to children from all walks of life, for another 20 years.


This holiday season consider joining us in this investment! CLICK HERE to make a donation to Escuela de Guadalupe and partner with us to make a difference in the life of a child.


Click here to read more about Escuela's integrative model, featured in the Colorado Sun!

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