English learners welcomed with open arms


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Clover Hill welcomed students from a multitude of countries for the 2021-2022 school year

Ethan Dobbins, Editor-in-Chief

Along with the many new clubs and classes added this year, such as African American history elective, an English Language Learners program has been established, which is meant to help welcome many of the newest Cavaliers acclimate to the Clover Hill community. 

Counselor Sarah Laskey, who is a fluent Spanish speaker, works with the ELL students and is excited to have the opportunity to welcome these new students to the building. 

“Any student that speaks a different language is assigned to me; because I speak Spanish, and I am the only counselor that speaks Spanish,” Laskey said. “I really enjoy it because I did ELL at Bird High School for a year and I really liked working with [the students].”

While the majority of the students speak Spanish, Clover Hill also hosts students from many other different language backgrounds such as Vietnamese and Arabic. 

Anita Rhodes has had the opportunity to work with these students and to watch them learn a new language while continuing to embrace their own culture. 

“This is my 30th year of teaching, but it is my first year doing ELL because this is the first year we’ve had it, so I’m learning a lot,” Rhodes said. “Although the majority of our students speak Spanish as a first language, we have some students here who speak Shona, which is an African language; some students who speak Patois, which would be from Jamaica; we have students who speak Urdu, some who speak Creole, some who speak Vietnamese, and some who speak Arabic.” 

In order to communicate with her students more effectively, Rhodes continues to learn and practice new languages. 

“I took Arabic this summer [because] I wanted to know more about what they were going through, and even though there’s currently only one Arabic speaking student that I’m working with, I’m sure there will be others,” Rhodes said. 

Many of the students enrolled in ELL hail from different countries. One Arabic speaking student, Nada Qasem, is from Palestine. 

“I am from Palestine, and I speak Arabic,” Qasem said. “It [was] hard the first time coming here, but now it’s better because I [have] been here three years. . . the first [year] everyone is [speaking] English, so it was confusing, but [now] I can understand [more].”

On top of the in-person classroom experience, ELL students have had the opportunity to experiment with more conversational English with events, such as the Community Cafe hosted by the National Honor’s Society on Dec. 2. The Community Cafe, an in-school banquet held as a fun way for students to interact, served as a way for the ELL students to interact with English speakers in order to familiarize themselves more with the English language. Because of events such as this, both English and foreign language speakers have had the chance to learn more about each other’s cultures and traditions.