Language Societies: Their Impact on Diversity at Tompkins

Caroline Hoffmann

Students fill the classrooms at Tompkins, desperately watching the clocks as some count down the last few minutes of seventh period. Down the language hallways, the various Spanish and French teachers lecture the students on their perspective speech, leaving some kids baffled at how a language can be so difficult to understand and learn. After a couple more torturous minutes, the last bell of the day rang, and the students instinctively filed out of their classrooms. The hallways filled with loud chatter and laughter as kids made their way out of the building, eager to go home. However, Spanish teacher Ana Rodriguez and French teacher Melissa Pauletti will not be having their day end anytime soon, because the club meetings for their language societies were to be held soon.


The Spanish National Honor Society, sponsored by Rodriguez, is an academic honor society that is primarily focused on Spanish language excellence in secondary education and promotes a continuity of interest in Spanish studies.


“The society is sponsored by the association AATSP, a Portuguese and Spanish based program that helps corresponding language teachers,” said Rodriguez. “The association also holds competitions and different opportunities for the students in the society to earn scholarships.”


The society takes part in different activities at every meeting. For example, in November, they will be comparing the difference between Halloween and the Day of the Dead, the closest Hispanic tradition to the much anticipated American holiday.


“We try to understand other cultures as well as better understand and value our own,” said Rodriguez.


Another event that the club participates in is their visits to retirement homes to help the elderly by playing games and spending time with them. Rodriguez always makes sure the society takes part in any ways they can help the community by volunteering or donating.


“We are always looking for a way to better the community and our fellow Spanish-speaking citizens,” said Rodriguez.


The club’s main goal is to build acceptance of all the diversity in the world, bringing people from other races, religions and beliefs together.


“I really wanted it to bring people who share a common language together, because this school is very diverse and filled with many bilingual students,” said Rodriguez.


Students who want to join the club must have already taken Spanish 3 Pre-AP and 4 AP.

However, the society accepts new members at the beginning of this school year, so any student interested now can definitely become a member next year.


“Make it to the first meeting of the year and fill out a form,” said Rodriguez. “Once it is turned in, you are in the club.”


The French National Honor Society is an organization similar to SNHS. Pauletti, the main sponsor, and Pam Milton, the co-sponsor, run the society through the main goal of helping out the French community here in Katy.


“Being in the program provides students many community service opportunities,” said Pauletti.


Students who wish to be in the society do not have to be fluent in French, however they are expected to have an A average in the class to be inducted into the society. Once the student is inducted, if they are in an AP French class they need an average of an 85, and if they are in Pre-AP then they will need an 88 average.


“I look for the students who do well in French and would usually like to continue on with their French studies later on in their lives,” said Pauletti.


No one can just join the society, a student must be invited to be inducted into the program. At the end of the student’s second year of French, Pauletti will look at the student’s grades to determine whether they should be invited in or not.


“They would also need to be going on to the next level of French, as well as participate in the mandatory induction ceremony,” said Pauletti.


The French National Honor Society is always looking for ways to improve the community, for example when Hurricane Harvey left a devastating outcome on Katy, the society has tried to reach out and help out the businesses affected.


“There’s a French restaurant around here that was affected by Harvey, and since it is being rebuilt we are focusing on wanting to help and visit it,” said Pauletti.


In meetings, Pauletti makes sure to open the member’s minds even further into the French culture. A few of the subjects the club focuses on is learning French cuisine and baking.


“When we do have meetings, we try to make them very culturally oriented, in which the kids even have to speak French,” said Pauletti.


Pauletti expects for students in the society to really have a passion for the language, and to want to continue on and improve their learning. She believes that having the skill of knowing another language is very important in the world today, and that it is a necessity that will definitely help the student later on in their lives.


“Not even to be bilingual, but to be multilingual is of big importance,” said Pauletti. “I always encourage my students to know as many as they can learn.”