Boom! Spanish disappears

By: Makenzie Droll (grade 10)

This article earned Writer of the Week in the Huntingdon Daily News

While English is the language spoken the most, Spanish ranks as the second most common language spoken in the U.S. according to Bilingual Kidspot.  Fifty percent of college students studying a foreign language chose to learn Spanish according to Mosa Lingua. Many schools have Spanish as a foreign language, and up to this year so did Tussey Mountain. There are nearly 8,200 Spanish language programs offered at high schools in the U.S. according to Rachel Bierly at the University of Pittsburgh. Tussey Mountain students who could no longer take Spanish this year, due to a vacant Spanish teaching position, could pick from any elective offered at Tussey. Tussey created another section of French to accommodate any students wishing to switch to another foreign language. The students also had options for online electives, business electives, vocational electives, and art electives. According to Tussey Mountain Online Learning Coordinator Sonya Browell, three seniors opted to take Spanish II online to finish their language requirements for graduation.

Freshman Chloe Ritchey said her final good-byes to her Spanish textbook before entering her first French class. Photo by: Amelia Dibert

Tussey has been looking for a new foreign language teacher since January of 2018. Grades nine through twelve once had the opportunity to take Spanish and/or French, though no students took Spanish III. Academic students are encouraged to take at least two years of a foreign language, as many colleges require it for admission. Chloe Ritchey is one of the ninth graders who was in Spanish.  When asked if she knows any words in Spanish, she replied, “ Not off the top of my head, they are written in a binder somewhere.” Ritchey is now taking psychology as her elective. Ritchey completed half a year in Spanish during her eighth grade year. 

Sixty students began the school year in Spanish and had to switch classes. Some were not happy about it, but some were ready for a change.  Twenty-one of the students were in Spanish II and couldn’t finish their second year. “A lot of students would rather take Spanish, thinking it will help them with a better future,” said Principal Janell Henderson when asked if Spanish is a popular language choice for students. 

The most recent Spanish teacher, Stewart Roberts, started substitute teaching Spanish at Tussey at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. When asked what had happened to Roberts, Henderson said, “Roberts resigned and never came back and got another job. He was not certified as a Spanish teacher, so we couldn’t hire him [full time].” Henderson still hopes to find a teacher for any foreign language to offer as a course alongside French.

Other schools in the area are also advertising for various foreign language teachers, but Spanish seems to be the one with the most openings. For now, Tussey students can only say, “no hablo espanol.”

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