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Spanish Students Explore Hispanic Culture

Students enrolled in Spanish classes at Portland Adventist Academy celebrated Hispanic Heritage and Cultures (mid-September through mid October) through events, contests, and special cultural experiences supported by the school’s chapter of the national Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH), an Honor Society for students learning Spanish.

The festivities began with El Grito Día De la Independencia, the holiday to celebrate Mexico’s Independence from Spain. Spanish class students discussed Mexico’s history and were treated to traditional sweet breads by PAA Spanish teacher Rita Barrett who is known as Profe by her students.

Also on El Grito Día De la Independencia, the SHH and the art and language departments announced a contest in which students would design original posters with the theme “Beyond Burritos” to help fellow students to discover the great variety of Latin American foods. Freshman, Mikayla Neely won the contest and received ‘Chef Stef Bucks’ (coupons for free lunches at the cafeteria) as well as a basket full of candy from Mexico.

Mikayla Neely won the poster contest!

Supporting the effort to help others understand culture through food was PAA’s school chef, Stephanie Torgerson Gimse. She planned a month of daily lunches featuring foods from Latin American countries. “If you want to know a culture you need to know how and what they celebrate,” said Torgerson Gimse. “Food is always a part of celebrations.”

Spanish classes also celebrated Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), which is the celebration of the many Latin American countries’ heritages, ethnicity, and cultural influences. Students made and sampled Mexican and Spanish tortillas, with help from parent and former student volunteers. Students also made birthday cards for Profe, who was coincidentally born on Dia de la Raza.

All of the festivities wrapped up with the SHH initiation lunch to celebrate new inductees. The SHH members dined on Mexican “sopes,” homemade by Profe.

“The SHH has reached a milestone this school year,” said Profe. “We have 10 new members to add to the six seniors who joined last year. We will have 11 students graduating with red SHH honor cords this school year. That is a pretty big chunk of the Senior class and our highest number of graduates in a school year yet.”

At PAA, students can take up to four years of Spanish. Many of these students go on to pass CLEP tests and are able to skip multiple levels of college language classes, saving them time, money, and progressing them further into their required credits.


Read more about PAA’s Spanish student success by following the links below!  

Profe’s most successful students were invited to join a Mission Trip to Cuba with Andrew’s University Masters’ students. Read about it HERE

Our students have remarkable AAPPL Scores. Read about it HERE

Profe was recently named Honor Roll Teacher by the Confederation in Oregon for Language Teaching (COFTL). Read about it HERE

PAA attracts language teachers to a Professional Learning Community led by Rita Barrett. Read about it HERE

How far we’ve come! It was three years ago that Profe set the goal to offer four years of Spanish classes. She reached that goal the very next year with the help of these incredible students. Read about it HERE

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