"Mrs. Stratton had a lot to do with our success. She believed in our mission. Our school was euphoric during those weeks," said Luber, who recently received a $1,000 scholarship from Kohl's department store for his efforts and is in the running for a $10,000 scholarship.

Other money for the project came in through direct donations.

"A lot of it was nickels and dimes and $20 bills," Parikh said. "Those are amazing experiences, where people who don't know you reach out and support you."

This past April 11, two years after the effort began, the first online book group was held. They discussed "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," one of a series of novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith are set in Botswana.

"In some ways it was a disaster because the technical aspects of it were terrible, but it was so amazing to be able to do it and hear what kids in Kenya thought about it," Parikh said. "It was so perfect for me and so fulfilling."

Luber said the screen sometimes froze, but they were able to see and hear each other. When the two sides appeared on the screens, "There was serious applause, it was a very emotional celebration," he said.

Parikh recently returned from a trip to Wamunyu with Kenya Connect.

Her introduction to Africa was a hairy one. The first day there, she discovered a tarantula in the toilet.

"I screamed as it was being flushed away," she says.

In addition, Parikh learned tribal dances from women in their 60s and 70s. The colorfully dressed women taught her the movements to the Kamba welcome dance and an anti-AIDS dance.

"I couldn't believe they were in their 60s and 70s, they were more limber than I," she says. The women named her "Mutheo" (pronounced moo-THEY-oo), which means "purity" in Kikamba, their tribal language.

Parikh and the Kenya Connect group visited a women's homestead where the residents spend their time weaving colorful baskets. Parikh also went on a night safari, saw the Big 5 of Africa (lions, elephants, rhinoceros, leopards and buffalo), straddled the equator, saw the Coriolis effect firsthand, and got licked by a giraffe.

But one of the most amazing sights was the center that she, Luber and the community of Arundel High helped become a reality.

"It was so amazing and awesome to see the center and be able to see all the hard work materialize. I was so blown away; it's so beautiful and bright," Parikh said. "It's so fulfilling that all these kids will have access to computers and the small library we set up. It is so amazing to see physical and tangible results."

While there, she participated in a live book session with the students they had seen on their monitors.

"They are a little shy at first; once things got started, things went well," she said. "We got to learn their thoughts and how they meshed with our own."

Parikh and Luber are now training other students at Arundel High to take over the program, and Parikh plans to continue with Kenya Venture in college. As part of the University of Maryland Honors College she will enter the Living and Learning programs, taking entrepreneurship and innovation classes as part of her studies.

Luber also will attend the Honors College. His ultimate goal is to participate in Doctors without Borders, where volunteer doctors and nurses provide urgent medical care to victims of war and natural disasters.

Luber and Parikh have accomplished a lot as high school students, but as Luber will tell you, they are "just getting started."