The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Lily Zing
Kindergartner Emily Padilla and junior Van Kong read a book together on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Growing together

High school Spanish learners empower young minds at elementary schools

In a classroom filled with the vibrant energy of young learners, there sits a timid student whose voice is accustomed to silence.

Emily, a student at Jeremiah Gray Kindergarten Academy, unfolded a transformative moment when she uttered words for the first time in her classroom, leaving those around her in awe. In particular, Emily’s teacher, Debbie Kreuckeberg welled up with tears of joy after witnessing her student break free from her shell.

“When they could speak to her, she would talk back to them and laugh,” Kreuckeberg said. “She got up and she danced, I had never seen that personality in her ever.”

This heartwarming encounter is not an isolated incident. Rather it illustrates the profound impact that Spanish learners from SHS, such as Junior Van Kong, have on their younger peers at elementary schools.


Kong has been working with Emily through the language exchange program developed by SHS four years ago.

In this program, students in Honors Spanish V visit Jeremiah Gray Kindergarten Academy and Clinton Young Elementary School in hope of improving their Spanish speaking skills while assisting young English learners. As these high scholars interact with their younger peers in elementary schools, a supportive network is established, benefitting both groups. Along this journey, strong relationships are forged, fostering mutual growth.

“It’s the first time I feel like I’ve ever made an impact … ” Kong said. “I’m not a certified teacher, but being able to make such a big impact on someone is truly amazing.”

As exemplified by Emily’s transformative encounter, this program not only benefits the students of SHS but also helps elementary students. It was through Kong’s assistance that Emily was able to express herself for the first time in her classroom.

In the initial stages of the program, SHS students curated lessons and crafted activities for their younger peers. As the program

Junior Ashley Martinez reads a book with a kindergartner on Thursday, Feb. 2. (Lily Zing)

progressed, they are now able to actively assist their younger counterparts with their class lessons and assignments. Furthermore, these students play a crucial role in facilitating communication between the teacher and students.

Engaging with younger students opens numerous opportunities and advantages for high school students. Speaking in Spanish without the fear of judgment enables them to enhance their confidence and feel a heightened sense of comfort when expressing themselves in the language.

“This program has in fact helped me a lot with building confidence,” Junior Ashley Martinez said. “I am able to help both the kids and my classmates whenever they need help.”


Similarly, for other students, this experience has nurtured them to become better at improvising when speaking in Spanish.

“It’s really improved my ability to think of things off the cuff without scripting first,” senior Sophia Richason said.

As SHS students and elementary students grow educationally and socially, their teachers and administrators reflect on just how beneficial this union between both groups has been.

“It encourages (SHS students) to talk and not worry about their grammar because the kids are so accepting,” Spanish teacher Anna Posadas said.

This heartwarming feeling carries into Jeremiah Kindergarten Academy too, where teachers and administrators see young English learners breaking down barriers that they had previously put up before interacting with SHS students.

“Having the high scholars come over and speak to these students in their native language (has) been joyful,” Jeremiah Gray Kindergarten Academy Principal Lora Hansell said. “Our kids light up (when) somebody can speak to them and understand them.”

As these young student’s personalities flow freely into the classroom, their growth shines through as students stand behind them, helping them through any challenge so they can grow together.


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About the Contributor
Simran Baidwan
Simran Baidwan, Culture Reporter
Hi! My name is Simran Baidwan, and I am a sophomore this year at SHS. This is my first year on The Journal, and I am a writer for Culture. I took the full-year Journalism course my freshman year, and I decided that joining The Journal would be a great fit for me. Some things to know about me are that I am Punjabi. Quick side note: My parents were born in a northern state in India called Punjab, so I am Punjabi, and the religion I practice is Sikhism. Other things about me are that I love to travel. So far, I have traveled to Canada, India, and England. I have also been to various places in the U.S. Over the last year, I have developed a love for reading. My favorite genres include fiction and true crime. If I’m not reading, then you can probably find me watching TV. One of my all-time favorite shows is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”  I also love music. It is part of my everyday life from playing the violin, learning to play the piano or just listening to music. I’m so excited to be on staff, and I can’t wait to see what The Journal brings this year!

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