Living in our beloved small town in the Southwest, we don’t often encounter other languages in our neck of the woods. There is, however, one exception: The Modern Languages Department at Clovis High School.
When I dropped by CHS recently, our talented language teachers were gracious enough to describe their programs and share some of the activities available to our high school students.
First of all, stepping into the French and Spanish classrooms is like stepping into another country. Diana Huey’s and Jennifer Kelley’s rooms are filled with Eiffel towers, Arc de Triopmphes, and other French notables in the form of lamps, posters, décor, rugs, and other items, providing a visually rich experience just walking through the door.
Patricia Natividad’s and Rodolfo Arceo’s Spanish classrooms are equally delightful, and particularly vibrant; Natividad’s walls are covered by a beautiful mural that puts one immediately in a warm Latin scene.
Aside from the ambiance created by the cultural color, the activities and content of the Spanish and French classes are extremely engaging for students.
In both the Spanish classes and Spanish Club, Natividad explained: “ … in addition to learning the language itself, we focus on various Spanish-speaking countries and learn about their individual cultures. We’ve done cross-curricular activities with the baking and culinary classes.” This included culinary students preparing paella when studying Spain; spices and the history of their use. They learned about Argentinean gauchos and other aspects of the culture, including the many differences in the version of Spanish used in different countries.
Songs, dances, and traditions are also covered and shared. For example, Spanish students performed for the Hope Center here in Clovis and danced with those brave senior citizens willing to try.
Another jaunt included the Spanish Club inviting a senior citizen group from Texico to attend the Back to School social at Cassel-Land.
Arceo has also been able to share his skills as an expert in lassoing, vaquero style.
For the French classes, many of the same rich, culture-oriented activities are taking place. Veteran teachers Madame Huey and Madame Kelley introduce students not only to verb conjugations, but also the cultures, traditions, cuisine, music and language variations of countries where French is spoken; from France, Belgium, Switzerland, to Quebec, New Orleans, and more.
The French students and French Club are also heavily involved in community service. In fact, Fat Tuesday was just celebrated and the proceeds earned by the Mardi Gras king and queen were contributed to the pediatric ward at the hospital. A parade of sorts was held with the kids receiving Mardi Gras beads.
In addition to the wonderful activities of the Modern Languages Department a new language is being offered at CHS — Japanese. Hisano Richeson, whose husband is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, is teaching two classes of Japanese to highly motivated students.
Small town, maybe, but what an international flair.
Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org