Students win Spanish poster and poetry contest

By Annie Zorn

Six Lane students won top honors in a regional Spanish language poster and poetry competition held at Niles North High School last month.

Elizabeth Ruiz, Div. 587, Abigail Henkin, Div. 750, and Ariel Jordan-Zamora, Div. 588, received first-place awards in poetry at the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Teachers (AATSP) contest. It was the first time that Lane has entered the competition. Other participating schools, such as Loyola Academy and New Trier, were mainly suburban or private.

Contestants had to pick a poem in advance from a selection of Spanish poems, then recite it from memory. Judges evaluated them on poetic expression, pronunciation, and smoothness of delivery, according to the AATSP website.

There were different divisions for native and non-native speakers and contestants were separated into five different levels based on experience. Because Lane’s participating students are in their fourth year of Spanish, taking AP Spanish Language, they were in level four. Participants were awarded either first, second, or third place in their respective levels.

Jordan-Zamora said she chose her poem because she saw similarities between her mother and the poet. She read the poem “Blasón” by Jose Santos Chocano, which tells the story of the honor he has for his heritage.

“My mother was an immigrant who struggled to become a citizen of the United States and is a proud denizen of her homeland.  She has shared that pride and instilled in me a respect for my ancestors,” Jordan-Zamora said.

“I memorized my poem for hours after school over several days and repeatedly acted it out in front of my parents and friends for guidance,” Jordan-Zamora said.

Henkin relied on her love of theater to help her when it came time to go in front of the judges.

“I had performed in front of much larger crowds,” Henkin said. “I’ve never had stage fright.”

Reciting the poem was not an easy task, even for a native speaker.

“I speak Spanish at home but I’ve never sat down and memorized something in Spanish,” Ruiz said.

In the poster competition, Rialin Jose, Div. 577,  Dinorah Guillen, Div. 660, and Vanida Lim, Div. 573, received second prize awards, and Kathy Pierce, Div. 670, won a third place award. The challenge was to design a poster that demonstrated the importance and uses for learning a new language, according to the AASTP website.

“Taking a language is like entering a new world; I’m happy that they respect that,” Lim said.

Lim also said her experience of being Asian and taking spanish has been very important to her.

Guillen said she spent a week and a half creating her poster and used materials such as acrylic paint, markers, and pencil to complete it.

“It gave me a feeling of accomplishment, making every night I spent on working on the painting worth it,” Guillen said.

The winners also said it was important to them to make their AP Spanish Language teacher, Dr. Daly, proud.

“We were ecstatic that we won, but it was the joy that we made our mentor proud that made the occasion better,” Jordan-Zamora said.

Dr. Daly was equally pleased.

“It was one of the best moments in my teaching career to see my students participate and win!” Dr. Daly said.