KFHS students excel in Spanish

Published 9:31 pm Saturday, May 5, 2012

King’s Fork High students Alexis Brueggeman, Laura Smith, Ethan Gould and Jacob Nguyen, pictured with their teacher Stefanie Hicks, have been recognized for their performances in the 2012 National Spanish Examinations.

Several world language students at King’s Fork High School have medaled in the school’s first year of participation in the National Spanish Examinations.

Senior Ethan Gould won a silver medal with a score of 92 percent, which Spanish teacher Stefanie Hicks says makes him one of the top-ranked nationally.

Bronzes, meanwhile, were won by juniors Alexis Brueggeman and Laura Smith as well as sophomore Jacob Nguyen.

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Hicks said scholarships and awards are up for grabs for students who achieve at least a bronze in two consecutive years.

“This is my first year of doing it — (I’m) definitely planning on doing it in years to come,” she said.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, so I was really pleased to see how many placed.”

Gould said he has taken languages for five years as part of his International Baccalaureate commitments.

“I just like the language,” he said of why he chose Spanish over French and Latin.

“Being bilingual gets you a lot more chances to connect with others, and that’s necessary in the world today.”

Brueggeman said Spanish will help her through life “because it’s a pretty in-demand language.”

Winning a bronze was nice, she said, adding, “I didn’t really expect it.”

Smith said bilingualism in her generation is expected, and Nguyen said he chose Spanish over German and French after taking international language classes in middle school.

“Spanish I picked up easier than the other ones and I stuck with it in high school,” Nguyen said.

According to Hicks, the Suffolk school district wants to push foreign languages and have students participate more on the national stage.

“I believe we’re going to try as a district to have this gong a bit more often,” she said, noting that Spanish was quickly becoming America’s second language.

“There are places in Miami where English is the second language,” she said. “Even Lowe’s has all their signs in both languages.”

After herself taking Spanish in high school, Hicks says she really got a feel for the Romance language when she and her husband lived in Spain for three years.

She said her experiences there and her own Spanish family heritage are both tools she tries to employ in the classroom.

Across America, 143,641 students took the 2012 National Spanish Examinations.