Teaching Spanish could help bridge barriers, teens say

Published 1:06 pm Sunday, February 26, 2023

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The Davie Respect Initiative (DRI) is a challenge open to young people and groups 12-21 who have a project that will increase the amount of expressed respect in Davie County.

In the beginning, quite a few people stated that 12 year olds should not compete with 21 year olds.

Guess what?

Not only has the DRI had many excellent applications and awardees from 12–14 year olds, but in the fourth quarter of 2022, all threewinning projects were from middle school students.

The celebration for the awardees was held Jan. 23 at Mocksville Town Hall with Mayor Will Marklin presenting the $1,000 checks, certificates, DRI t-shirts and hand crafted wooden medallions that say “Respect Matters.”

Respect does matter to these middle schoolers.

“When respect is shown, I feel that the individuals receiving the respect feel a mutual connection with the other person; whilst, yes, they might be drastically different in some aspects, the two of them are both human beings. In this, respect is formed—the knowledge that people are not all that different after all is what leads many to respect one another. Respect is human, and that display of humanity can change someone’s day for the better, be it small or large.”

That advice is from Sylas Johnson, age 12.

Encouraged by their Beta Club Advisor, Lisa Prillaman of South Middle School, Sylas and Scarlett Brock came up with the idea of reinstating Spanish language classes in elementary and middle schools.

“Reinstatement of Spanish classes would inspire bilingualism,” Silas said. “Embracing bilingualism will help tear down many lingual and racial barriers. If people understand not only the language, but perhaps even the cultural norms of other nations, tolerance would become much easier.”

Scarlett said that she had not had Spanish class since kindergarten and she loved it; to be able to speak to fellow students in their native language – even if just a few phrases, would help break down barriers and make them feel more welcome.

These 12 year olds are planning to take their idea to the Davie County Board of Education; but meanwhile, they are working with Mrs. Prillaman and another Spanish speaking teacher to begin a Spanish club where students can begin to learn the language.

Their goal is to break down the barriers created by language differences and form new friendships.

And let’s meet Grace Goodman, 14, another student from South Davie inspired by Mrs. Prillaman. “For those receiving respect or acts of kindness, it makes them feel grateful and cared for and they have a sense of belonging and acceptance from others.”

In her own words, Grace describes her idea.

“My idea for the respect project is to set up a “Books Of Blessings Box” in the middle schools and high school for donations of gently used books. These donated books will be sent to the local elementary schools around Davie County for teachers to use in their classroom libraries.

“I can start by donating my own books. Giving the books to the younger kids will help inspire them to read and this will inspire them to share their books as well. This will also help the teachers, by freeing up their funds for other classroom resources.

“Middle school and high school students will be able to give back to the community by donating their childhood books.”

Grace has already begun her project with Mrs. Prillaman’s help.

Ryann Davis is an 13 year old from Ellis Middle School who has a concern about the amount of litter she is seeing in Davie County.

“Davie County is a pretty small county and I feel everyone shows their appreciation differently. Recently, I have been noticing that we have many littering issues. We could be doing things that are not only good for the planet but also entertaining. So that’s why I have thought about what I like to call the ‘clean for coupons.’ During the summers and breaks during the year, many camps that are active could take the campers and counselors on a field trip to do good deeds.

Basically, participants would take 1-4 hours each trip to gather garbage and litter across Davie County for coupons to businesses. Not only would the participants see the issues they could be causing, but they also would be helping solve them. And an added bonus, businesses would provide small treat coupons to the kids for their good work. A win win for Davie County and the participating students.”

Mayor Marklin was particularly impressed with this project and offered that it would be great to have a cleanup before the Spring mowing began. For businesses interested in participating in “Clean for Coupons,” email initiaterespect1@gmail.com to be connected with Ryann

Do you know a young person or Davie youth group between the ages of 12-21 “doing good, being kind, or showing respect” to people, animals or the environment? Empower youth by anonymously nominating them at www.davierespect.com.  Up to three new Ambassadors of Respect may be selected by the volunteer selection panel each quarter.

The next quarter ends on March 31 and individuals and DC youth groups can apply on their own or after having been nominated.  Email comments or questions to initiaterespect1@gmail.com.