Spanish: A gateway to a different world

Juleisy Varela-Mares

Staff WriterSpanish Honor Society JVM 1

Woodstock High School has an immense variety of extracurricular activities to meet the interests of all types of students. In addition to academic-based clubs like Beta Club, the school offers many other clubs for those interested in the fine arts, such as drama and art. Venturing out a little more, the language department offers opportunities beneficial to a student’s academic career. These opportunities include scholarship offers for all grade levels, trips out of the country, and several opportunities to put the language they have been studying into good use for the betterment of the community. These activities strengthens students’ full comprehension of the language while helping the people nearby. This is what Spanish Honor Society does and has been doing since 1917; this year Woodstock High School’s Spanish Honor Society (SHS) has been ranked number one nationally for its service and member collaboration for 2015. Of all the SHS societies in the nation, Woodstock has won the top spot.

To make matters clear, WHS has a Spanish club as well as a Spanish Honor Society. Spanish club, sponsored by Spanish teacher Ms. Sonya Breaux, provides students with a fantastic chance to use the Spanish language in outings and activities. However, SHS does more of that; it is more responsibility and more opportunities for those who are willing to work for their membership. All members must meet these criteria: be enrolled in a Spanish course, have a minimum of three semesters of Spanish, maintain a minimum average of 90% in all Spanish courses, maintain a minimum of 85% in all high school courses, demonstrate good citizenship, responsibility, and trustworthiness not only when applying but also during the time as a member. These students are the best of best in the Spanish department and have earned this national recognition and continue putting in their best efforts for the people of Woodstock and Canton. As difficult as it may seem to even join, this year many students have joined knowing all these challenging requirements and responsibilities. “We sent out more than 70 letters to students who were able to enter the Spanish Honor Society, and we received back 50 letters accepting to join and had 50 more present during this year’s induction ceremony for a total of 140 people,” said senior SHS president William Penniman.

This increased membership allowed Woodstock’s Spanish Honor Society to participate in bigger projects. “It was a totally new this year. We looked for different opportunities that would be worth all the effort, and we did them,” said nationally recognized SHS sponsor Ms. Sonya Breaux, adding, “the amount of participation increased by a lot all because now there is so much more to gain and learn that help the students’ academic career.” Along with the usually small projects and activities, the SHS began looking farther ahead.Spanish Honor Society JVM 3

This year, Woodstock’s Spanish Honor Society partnered up with Woodstock Elementary and the Woodstock Public Library to give a little extra homework help to elementary school students every Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. Originally, this homework night was dedicated to the elementary students who struggled due to a language barrier. The SHS would come in and use the Spanish they have been studying to help the little ones who have yet to learn English. Eventually the SHS-sponsored activity opened up to all kids, and up to 20-30 children would visit every Tuesday. This project, intended as an invitation for all children to come for some extra help, ended up catching more attention from the city of Woodstock, who granted the Spanish Honor Society a $3,000 scholarship for the program. The scholarship was then used to pay school buses for the students who would have been unable to attend the tutoring because of transportation issues. “Knowing you can help kids who are having trouble and being able to have an impact on them at such a young age to help them succeed in their education is the best part of going,” said junior SHS member Estephanie Velez. There should be no obstacle preventing a child from learning; that is why these volunteers work hard to help these children who only need a little extra attention in order for them to succeed.

The Spanish Honor Society does not limit their focus to helping elementary students, but rather, they also work with WHS students as well. SHS students began a project to help tutor those in Woodstock High School taking a Spanish course. During all three lunch periods SHS members sacrifice their one hour of free time to tutor those getting ready for the National Spanish Exam or those who needed more practice. This tutoring session took place every day in a Spanish teacher’s room up until the National Spanish Exam and will be available again next school year.

As well as the tutoring in the public library and in Woodstock High School, the Spanish Honor Society does not stop there. This society has even helped those who are yet to come into the world. During the month of December, SHS members volunteered at the Hope Center in Woodstock where pregnant teens or single mothers with low income receive items to support the babies. These items are usually donated clothes which are often disorganized and dirty, requiring some maintenance. Each Saturday was spent sorting and cleaning these donations to help both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking mothers. These tasks could vary from sorting baby socks to assembling cribs and strollers

If that is not enough, the Spanish Honor Society also got together for Martin Luther King, Jr, day to pick trash thrown out around Lake Allatoona. Though there was no school that day, these members committed themselves to getting up in the early hours of a cold January morning and cleaning the lake. In total, they collected 15 bags of garbage. Small environmentally-beneficial projects have become yet another priority of this society and will increase in the upcoming years. All this effort and work will definitely pay off.

These students have done so much for the community, and the experiences they have will be something they will always remember. SHS members have earned the national recognition for their enthusiasm and endless efforts for all kinds of people. It is definitely a fantastic club that is proudly representing Woodstock every day in everything they do. New members join each year, and new doors open as well. Those joining have nothing to lose and much to gain. These students who have worked hard from the greatness of their hearts to help others are all around, assisting people and other students, accomplishing outstanding feats for the betterment of both American and Hispanic communities.

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