Siblings from hurricane-torn Puerto Rico say transition to BAHS has been ‘really good’

Bellefonte Area School District  |  Posted on

If you ask Wilner and Wilmarys Torres what their favorite things are about Bellefonte Area High School, they’ll likely say the cafeteria and school lunches. They also gave a shout out to many teachers and students who helped them transition to a new school. The brother-sister duo, a senior and freshman, moved in November to Bellefonte from the hurricane-torn Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico – a decision made by their mother so the siblings could continue their education. “Some people lost everything,” Wilmarys said. “We didn’t have school for a couple months, so my mom decided it was best for us to come here with family and continue studying because she wanted us to have a better education. If we were to stay there, we had the possibility of not going on. I’m in ninth grade, but it was possible at my old school that I would not be able to pass to 10th grade, and so she wanted him (Wilner) to graduate and me to pass.” Never having transferred to a new school, let alone one in the United States, came with nerves — yet it was a surprisingly smooth adjustment, they said. The hardest part, they explained, was adjusting to the winters as they had never seen snow before. Their hometown of Juana Diaz is on the tropical side of Puerto Rico that averages an annual temperature of about 80 degrees. The average high, according to Weatherbase, is about 90 degrees, while the lows are just less than 70 degrees. Their hometown is slowly rebuilding, they said, and the decision to stay in the Bellefonte area may be longer-term: “My dad said we probably will wait to go back until after I graduate,” Wilmarys said. “They want me to stay at one school … I think it’s a good thing.”