When Upper School World Languages Teacher Marina Escámez Ballesta started teaching at Steward this fall, she was impressed by her students’ enthusiasm for the Spanish language and culture. Inspired, she decided to create a Hispanic Honor Society at Steward to celebrate Upper Schoolers who excel in Spanish studies. On November 3, 18 students were inducted into the Hispanic Honor Society at a ceremony in Steeber Commons.
“They are students who not only have mastered the language but also foster an appreciation for the Hispanic language and culture at the School and beyond,” noted Mrs. Escámez Ballesta. At the induction ceremony, she welcomed students and family members, speaking to them in Spanish. Her welcoming statement is translated into English here:
“The Steward School is fortunate to have a group of students who have such a strong capacity and passion for the Spanish language,” she said. “Now, they have an organization that recognizes their achievements and encourages their linguistic and cultural growth.”
Newly inducted students read excerpts of Spanish-language poems and books at the ceremony. Jackson Rhamy ’24, president of the Society, introduced Amelia Ann Callis ’23, who read a brief account of the inspiration behind the Hispanic Honor Society. Bella Topich ’23, Jack Jordan ’23, Jackson Rhamy, and Adhya Yaratha ’23 read literature by Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, and Delmira Agustini. In addition, Blakely Cummings ’23, Tommy Magnano ’23, Hayden Ashworth ’23, Gates Fox ’23, and Emory Sproull ’23 shared their thoughts on why the Hispanic culture and language are important to them.
Like all Spartans, the members of the Hispanic Honor Society explore topics that encourage critical thought and inspired thinking. Excerpts from some of the students’ speeches, which were completely in Spanish, are translated here into English:
Tommy Magnano: “I realized that I could form connections when I worked in construction with Mexican coworkers. As a result of speaking Spanish, we made a better connection.”
Hayden Ashworth: “Spanish was a door to a new family. I have met some of my best friends in Spanish class.”
Gates Fox: “Not only have I learned the language … but also cultures, economies, and values that are different from mine. Now, I can interact with more people in the world.”
Mrs. Escámez Ballesta is excited that inductees can serve as mentors to younger Spartans who are in the initial stages of their Spanish studies. “With the Hispanic Honor Society established, Middle School students will have opportunities to practice their Spanish-language skills with members of the Society,” she said excitedly. “Recently, a group of students in the Society led a lotería Mexicana game (a bingo-style game) for Middle Schoolers,” she said. “It was terrific to see this connection between students.”