High School Spanish Class Creates Resource for Spanish Speakers
New Paltz High School Grade 12 students in Rod Castro’s Spanish 6 classes have been working to facilitate resources for families facing such dilemmas. Student Lindsey Clinton, a Seal of Biliteracy candidate, approached Castro earlier in the year with the idea of starting a newspaper for the District’s Spanish-speaking families. Within moments, she and Castro were brainstorming ideas.
Emerging from this conversation was Mi Gente New Paltz, a student-written, Spanish-language website. A link to Mi Gente can be found on each school’s homepage. The page is broken down into three areas of content: resources for new students, resources for parents and for adults who are trying to navigate their way through the New Paltz community, and English lessons.
“I think this allowed all of us to utilize our knowledge of Spanish in a new, creative way,” said Lindsey about the class project. “Coming to a new city, country, or community is no easy feat, especially with a language barrier. Although there are varying degrees of English proficiency, the goal is to provide as much accessible information as possible for Spanish speakers in New Paltz.”
The Spanish 6 students teamed up to create various topics to research and write about. Mi Gente’s editor-in-chief, Julia Demskie, explained that ensuring “accessibility and representation” for Spanish speakers motivated her to help bring the project to fruition. “There are not a lot of resources around here for Spanish speakers,” she said. “We are giving people something they can understand easily. We want to include them in the community to make everyone here feel welcomed.” Julia added that in less than one month, the site received 873 views.
Sophia Schor and Lauren Stolfe wrote their first Mi Gente article about visiting a grocery store, and quickly realized that the imperial system of measurement used in the United States is neither universal nor intuitive. They therefore wrote another article on how to convert measurements from one system to the other. The pair also wrote an article on how to make a doctor’s appointment. In addition, Sophia and Lauren are filming minute-long videos with transcripts to encourage phonetic usage. “This project made me think more about how easy it is for us,” Sophia said. “I see how there are limited resources for Spanish-speaking people.” Lauren added, “We, as English-speakers, don’t have to ever think about these little things, but now, we are thinking.”
Marley Guinan and Harry Weinstein wrote about resources for recreation, which they both said was a simple task, given New Paltz’s outdoor culture. The pair listed low-cost or free hiking trails and paths in the area, noting that many outdoor activities still had costs that some might find prohibitive.
Danielle Salciccia and Sofia Loyer focused on providing resources for parents to help their students with schoolwork, recognizing that most YouTube tutorials are in English. “It is hard to find online videos in Spanish on how to teach multiplication, for example,” Sofia said. Recognizing that the school library website provides a plethora of accessible resources, they are recording tutorial videos in Spanish on how to maneuver through the school and library websites. Danielle said she was surprised to learn that the entire curriculum for each grade can be found online, which can be useful for parents wanting to know what to expect. Sofia and Danielle said they will base their future work on feedback. Danielle added, “I will never be able to put myself in their shoes, so I know feedback on what we should write is crucial.”
To help new Spanish-speaking students feel more comfortable in their surroundings, the website also includes articles about the playground equipment at each school, extracurricular activities, upcoming events in the District, available facilities, and more.
To read Mi Gente New Paltz, visit www.migentenewpaltz.com.