LYNN — In a community where bilingual skills open up doors for people every day in the professional world, students were honored for their Spanish Language expertise.
Early Thursday evening, 49 middle-schoolers learned about the importance of being able to understand more than one language in the workplace as well as everyday life. During the Spanish National Junior Honor Society, chapter “Rigoberta Menchu,” induction ceremony, each student was honored and initiated into the prominent program.
“It feels special to be inducted and to be able to talk about our Spanish community,” said 12-year-old Diane Lopez. “Everyone here knows how special this language is to all of us.”
The society was founded in 1953 by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, according to Magalie Rowe, the Breed chapter’s advisor. Mayor Thomas M. McGee, Superintendent Catherine Latham, and Superintendent-elect Patrick Tutwiler were all in attendance to congratulate the society’s newest inductees, along with keynote speakers Michael Satterwhite, of the school committee, and Alex Cuevas, CEO of ANC Enterprises, Inc.
“You keep working hard on your language skills because very often we advertise for Spanish speakers in the workplace, and one day that could be you,” said Latham to the honor students.
According to Satterwhite, 60 percent of students in the Lynn Public School system are Hispanic, which is why he acknowledges the importance of being able to understand the language. He is a former Breed student and he told the inductees about the struggles he faced when he was their age.
“The theme of my message to you guys is be the same Breed, and that’s based on my own time here when I was in the seventh grade,” said Satterwhite. “When you work together and help maintain relationships with other minorities, we can make this city a better place.”
Before the initiation began, the students invited Satterwhite, Cuevas and McGee to the stage to accept medals of thanks, as well as a plaque to Latham acknowledging her years of hard work and inclusion for minorities. Once the speeches and acknowledgments were finished, the celebrated Honor Spanish students prepared to accept their certificates which initiated them into the society.
Each student lit a candle, held it in their hands, and walked on to the stage. Then they recited the Oath of the Society by repeating it after the chapter’s vice president, Diana Muñoz De Jesús. Latham and McGee handed certificates out to each inductee, congratulating them all as they shook hands.
“The goal is to encourage kids to speak Spanish and give back to the community,” said Rowe. “Here, they work on their languages in person together and they build a strong community while doing so.”