St. Thomas Students participating in a newly-formed Spanish Club are (back, left) Hannah Lemair, Kelsy O'Connell, Olivia Comes, Morgan Anderson, Kate Comes, Kiara Paradeis, Karel Farfan, (front) Lillie Tolley, Lexie Roemen, Olivia Flemming, Allie Kappenman, Jemimah Sanders, Brittany Splonskowski and Jenny Bernard. Leader of the group (standing behind Comes and Paradeis) is Dakota State University student Kaitlyn Martinez. |
Half of the students at St. Thomas School in Madison are starting their day learning Spanish. About 30 students in grades K-5 are participating in a newly-formed Spanish Club, which meets at 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday. While her bid for office was unsuccessful, her pledge didn't go unnoticed. She and a third-grade student started introducing some common Spanish phrases into the daily routine at school.
St. Thomas Principal Colleen Davis said the idea for the club came about after student council elections in 2011-12. At that time, one student who sought the office of student council president pledged to teach all of the students Spanish if she were elected.
Davis said students learned a variety of phrases that included how to ask for white milk or chocolate milk and say "good morning." They also learned to sing "Happy Birthday."
"Parents commented on how their kids liked it," Davis said.
Based on the feedback from parents, the school started looking for someone who could come in the mornings and continue to expand the students' Spanish vocabulary. They found the first group leader, a Spanish-speaking student at Dakota State University, just by coincidence when she called to inquire about any job openings.
Kindergarten through second-grade students meet Mondays and Wednesdays and third- through fifth-grade students meet Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Davis said during the first semester, all of the student participants met on Fridays, but it was a fairly large group and students expressed an interest in meeting twice a week instead of three times.
The group is currently led by DSU Kaitlyn Martinez, who started leading the group after the holiday break. Davis said so far students have learned the names of different family members, colors, body parts and items of clothing. They've also learned about Three Kings Day.
In the weeks to come, they'll learn the months and seasons.
"Our hope is to have them learn about Cinco de Mayo in April, then hold a celebration in May," Davis said.