Distinguished Spanish students lit a candle on Feb. 17 to commemorate their entrance into Lane’s first National Spanish Honor Society. Lane’s chapter of the AATSP organization is sponsored by Spanish teachers Dr. Daly, Ms. Esguerra, and Ms. Perez.
“They’re very wonderful colleagues and share the same vision to open this National Spanish Honor Society,” Daly said.
To create the club they had to partner with the administration, especially Ms. Hart, the World Language coordinator. They also had to fill out an application from the national office to get the chapter opened.
Each chapter has a unique name based on the name of a place or tourist attraction in Latin America, according to Daly. The Lane chapter is El Yunque, the name of a rainforest in Puerto Rico.
“I thought of all of the places I’ve been to throughout my travels and when I studied, and that spot specifically in the rainforest, by the waterfalls, stuck out to me as being such a very tranquil, happy, dream of a place to be,” Daly said.“There was so much harmony with the wildlife.”
Students who were interested in joining had to have an A in their current Spanish class, a recommendation from both a Spanish teacher, a non-language teacher, and an overall 3.5 GPA. Being of Hispanic descent is not a requirement to be a part of the organization.
“I joined the NSHS because I felt honored to be considered to be a part of it, considering I am not Hispanic,” Violeta Serban, Div. 559, said.
The induction ceremony went off almost without a hitch. A false fire alarm meant that the students and their families had to evacuate the building, according to Daly. Even though the sponsors were worried, they were able to enter the building again shortly after and the evening proceeded. It was a celebration of language and culture with the traditional candle lighting ceremony and opening music by students in the music department.
“It felt like we were entering a sorority in college because we had lighted candles,” Serban said.
The National Spanish Honor Society has a special meaning for Daly, who participated in the club when she was in high school.
“When I started at Lane I just found it so odd that with such a strong Spanish department they didn’t have it,” Daly said.
Even though it has no relation to National Honor Society, the National Spanish Honor Society will also be similarly focused on service projects. The students will have one fall and one spring service project with Casa Central, a Hispanic-focused social service agency located at 1343 N. California Ave. Casa Central has tutoring programs and classes for community members along with a shelter, “La Posada,” for single mother families. The National Spanish Honor Society members will have collection drives to donate items Daly said.
“It’s really an amazing place where any types of items that we donate will be greatly appreciated and used,” Daly said.
One of Daly’s additional goals is to have the members practice their Spanish.
“I want the kids to use their Spanish with Spanish speakers in real-life situations so they can see that connection between grammar and accents and all the things they are learning in class and communication with people that may not speak English,” Daly said.
The National Spanish Honor Society that Daly participated in when she was in high school was focused on tutoring rather than community service.
“I was able to practice with native speakers and learn new words,” Daly said. “A lot of my really good girlfriends I met through tutoring them.”
NSHS is also known for their scholarships they offer to senior members. While there won’t be an opportunity for them this year, as they started second semester, they will be available for years to come.
As the El Yunque Chapter is in it’s beginning years, the sponsors anticipate room for growth and change.
“It would be fantastic to have some more student-led projects where students are actually volunteering out in the community with the Spanish-speaking population here in Chicago,” Daly said.