Two high school seniors from the Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) have played an integral role in starting a new school in Cameroon, Africa. Marilee Karinshak and Molly Pritchard helped raise funds through a foundation run by their soccer coach, Nadine Kezebou. The school, called Hale Academy, is providing free schooling in Cameroon to children who would have likely never received an education.
Karinshak and Pritchard have excelled at soccer in each of their four years at their Christian high school, and Pritchard is committed to continue playing at Ohio State University. Their impact, however, goes far beyond the soccer field. They have supported the Cameroon school by donating cleats and jerseys, and they have fundraised through soccer camps, auction events, and catering events. The seniors have also said that the work isn’t done just because the school is built, and they have plans to continue fundraising to provide more resources to the school.
Both girls were introduced to the educational needs in Cameroon by Kezebou. Her inspiring story includes escaping from poverty in Cameroon to becoming a member of the National Cameroonian Women’s soccer team and eventually becoming a soccer coach and trainer after graduating from Georgia State University. She is the founder of the Nadine Foundation, which strives to “help promote education, health, and a better life for the children of Cameroon” by providing access to healthcare, education, and humanitarian aid.
Kezebou’s vision for a school became a reality in August when the Hale School launched, serving hundreds of students and employing 26 teachers. Made up of 27 classrooms, the 220,000 sq. ft. building took nearly two million dollars and years of hard work to bring to life. Kezebou recently returned from a trip to Cameroon to see the school, calling it a “dream come true.”
Karinshak and Pritchard said that supporting their coach’s project has provided a priceless perspective.“I view the world much differently now because of her,” Pritchard said, “…(it taught me) to be grateful for everything you have.” The process helped grow their awareness of just how precious a Christian education is.
Karinshak and Pritchard’s high school, the Greater Atlanta Christian School, is continually recognized as one of the top schools in the state. “Together, we are raising a generation of bright, inspired, generous people. We share in a community where high academic rigor is matched by active faith and a deep commitment to caring for one another,” the school says on its website.
“I am honored and humbled to be a part of this…Education is critically important for a better life, and Hale Academy will impact lives for generations to come,” Karinshak stated. Both girls were invited to come see the school, but have been unable to travel to Cameroon due to travel restrictions related to Covid-19. Kezebou continues her fundraising efforts in hopes that she will be able to serve even more children in the future.