The Language of Love

Spanish Heritage students convey their love for the class of their culture.

Taylor Jacobs

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The classroom is filled with patient smiles. All around, the noises of crinkling tissue paper intermingle with small phrases of Spanish. High schoolers guide small hands to make colorful crafts, while pronouncing new words for the second graders to use.

Almost every Friday, this is what Señora Astrid Ruiz’s Spanish Heritage class experiences. They go to Manor Hill Elementary School and teach students basic Spanish, while also giving lessons on culture.

The class is comprised of multiple native Spanish speakers from LHS, as well as five Liberty North students. Spanish Heritage has been around for two years and they recently did a culture lesson on Día de Los Muertos.

On that day, the Spanish Heritage students taught the elementary schoolers how to make multiple crafts including papel picado, tissue paper flags with intricate cutouts to celebrate the holiday.

Before going to Manor Hill and teaching, the Spanish Heritage students have to make a lesson plan in class. When they do get to the school, they start and end with a number song in Spanish to help with the kids’ counting.

“[The elementary schoolers] are very happy to see us and are very sad when we leave,” Ruiz said. “They love the Spanish Heritage kids and it is something they really appreciate because they take the time to teach them.”

Besides teaching at Manor Hill on Fridays, these students work on their own Spanish. From writing and speaking skills to documentaries and culture lessons, they have a lot on their plate.

Since most of the Spanish Heritage students are native speakers and already know what is being taught in Spanish IV and V, they already have the oral part down. Because they are fluent, they speak Spanish 24/7 in class.

“It’s set at a faster pace than the other Spanish classes, so I feel more challenged to work harder,” senior Eddy Enriquez said. “Being at this higher level, I can understand it and practice it more.”

Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses in the language classroom, while Sra. Ruiz is there to help identify them while improving their skills.

“I give them the tools and they seek where they want to go with it,” Ruiz said.

Spanish Heritage students work with each other and Sra. Ruiz to create a positive learning environment for the class. Their hopes for the future vary, from working in customer service, to the medical field and being translators. However, they all share a common goal: to help more people understand and speak Spanish.

At home, some students continue speaking Spanish.

One senior, Daniella Ugaz, only speaks Spanish at home and won’t be answered if she speaks in English.

Another student, junior Max Herrera, has to speak Spanish to his mom and grandparents, but he also speaks English with his step-family.

The Spanish Heritage group is a unique class.

“The benefit to Spanish Heritage class is you get this type of community that’s created here,” Herrera said. “You have a bunch of people you’ve never known before that you get to meet because of this class and that’s a really cool thing.”

Whether they were born in Peru or here in Kansas City, they all come together with their love for Hispanic culture.

“If you’re confident in your Spanish abilities, you should definitely consider taking this class,” Enriquez said.

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