GHS, SAS students bond at Hispanic Heritage Month bilingual read-aloud

Students find common ground with a shared home language

Two teenagers sit with a picture book called "How are you? Como Estas?" in front of a class of second grade students sitting on the floor.
GHS Seniors Joshua Phillips (left) and Charles Bende (right) read “How are you? Cómo Estás?” by Angela Dominguez to Ms. Cheryl Winship’s second grade class for the Hispanic Heritage Month Bilingual Read-Aloud at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School on Monday, October 16.

“What color is an apple?” Charles asked the students after finishing the book and teaching them how to say colors in Spanish.

“Rojo!” answered the class.

Charles told the students he goes to Mexico every year, and it’s a long journey.

“My parents speak a way different language,” said Joshua. “They are from Ghana and speak Twi, so when I was given the opportunity to learn a whole other language, I thought that would be a cool idea.”

Second grade students sit on the floor of a colorful classroom facing the back of the room. One student is raising his hand.
Daniel Tetrabor, a second grader in Ms. Winship’s class, told one of the high school seniors his family is from Ghana also, and they speak Twi at home, but he can’t understand much of what they say. “You should learn!” said Joshua, before saying, “Ete sen? (How are you?)”

“It’s important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because it exposes our students to so many different cultures. Plus, you start talking and realize so many people near you speak other languages as well, and how important it is to celebrate everything. It opens up students’ eyes to so many things.

I love the camaraderie between the big people and the little people.”

Ms. Marisol Paneto, GHS Spanish 5 teacher

Languages open doors for travel, new friends

A teenage girl, female teacher, and young girl with a bow in her hair stand in a classroom surrounded by elementary students sitting together on the floor.
GHS Senior Isabella Venezia answered student questions after reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin, Jr. to Ms. Ceili Boles second grade class for the Hispanic Heritage Month Bilingual Read-Aloud.

When she finished reading the book, students sang out a resounding “¡Gracias!” to thank the high schooler for teaching them some new vocabulary.

Isabella has been studying Spanish since 7th grade, and said she originally wanted to learn the language because there were a lot of Spanish-speaking people where she lived at the time.

“Studying Spanish inspired me to learn a lot of other languages as well; now I am teaching myself German,” she said. “I went to Mexico and it was helpful to be able to speak to people there.”

Next, the senior plans on practicing her German skills on an upcoming trip to Europe.

A teenage boy sits with a picture book facing a group of elementary students sitting on the floor.
Goshen High School Senior Michael Lombardi read “I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda” for Ms. Meghan Castellane’s second grade class during the Hispanic Heritage Month Bilingual Read-Aloud.

“I want to help spread the Spanish language. Being bilingual is always a positive. It makes you more aware and able to communicate with more people.”

Michael Lombardi, 12th grade

Olivia Knoell, 7, said her favorite part of the read-aloud with Michael was “the surprise at the end.

“They gave us donuts!”

But, the second grader said she also learned something new. Michael taught Ms. Castellane’s class how to count to 10 and say the number “100” in Spanish.

It’s important “because if you’re going out and say, you went to Mexico or something, a lot of people are going to speak Spanish,” Olivia said. “You’ll want to know what they are saying. It’s important here too because there are kids in this school who speak Spanish, too.”

Inspiration through impactful traditions

A group of teenagers stand smiling in front of a hallway mural that says "Welcome to 2nd Grade."
GHS Seniors (alphabetical order) Charles Bende Illana Diaz, Amanda Fernandez, Salma Aguilar Flores, Andrew Foley, Michael Hulse, Michael Lombardi, Joshua Phillips, and Nicholas Santoro bonded with Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School students during the Hispanic Heritage Month Bilingual Read-Aloud.

Ms. Ceili Boles, one of the event’s organizers alongside Ms. Marisol Paneto and SAS Principal Kristin Driscoll, teaches one of the ENL sections at SAS. She said she wants students to understand the value of knowing more than one language, and to share the language they speak at home with their peers.

“All second grade students are growing their language and literacy skills,” said Ms. Boles, “and my hope is that these second graders will make connections with each other through an event like this.

The ENL teacher said she chose high school students to help with the event because she remembers how impactful it was when her second grade teacher at Scotchtown brought high school students to her classroom to do a science project.

“Over 20 years later, I remember that excitement,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to showcase all that the high school students have learned, and for my students to get a glimpse of the amazing opportunities they will have all the way till graduation.”