Evan Minniti staff writer
As of 2016, more than 40 million Americans speak Spanish as a first or second language, and more than half of American students choose to take Spanish as their foreign language class. Given the growing presence of Spanish language and culture in American society, it was only a matter of time before students at Beverly formed a Spanish club.
Established last year, the Spanish Club seeks to encourage students to learn more about Hispanic countries and culture, as well as help members understand the language.
“We decided to have a club where students in Spanish classes could interact with each other on a much more personal level, and also where we can help each other out with culture and grammar, and where we can learn more beyond the textbook,” co-founder junior Kimia Azad explained. “We’ve really seemed to grow in the past year. Last year we only had 10 or 11 people and this year we’re in our 20s and 30s. It’s just really fun to have a community.”
The club’s officers try to make each meeting festive, involving short presentations, games like Kahoot, or Bingo and sometimes food. For example, at their meeting on Oct. 30, Junior Tyler Kiper gave a presentation on Venezuelan culture.
“We do [presentations on] different countries like Venezuela and Colombia, and we’re going to try to do all of the countries so we can educate everybody in the club about all of these different Spanish-speaking countries,” Kiper said.
The club will be hosting a guest speaker later in the year, who will discuss prejudice against Spanish speakers in American society.
“We even have a speaker come in at the end of the year so we can learn more about social prejudice against Latin Americans…[Her name is] Sandra Robbie. She’s a professor at a university in Orange County and she teaches Hispanic Studies, and she talks to us about how prejudice and culture affect education within Hispanics,” Azad said.
Spanish Club members are required to pay dues, which are used to buy food and take care of other expenses for the club.
“We did not have club dues last year. It was something that we found would be really helpful to do this year just because we pay a lot of money for food, which is something that we do have very often. This was a controversial topic; it was something that was really hard to figure out, but after talking to the students [in other clubs] we figured out that it’s a very common thing,” Azad said.
Azad hopes to see the club grow even after she graduates.
“Our goal for our club is just to create a safe environment where kids can feel safe, a safe environment where kids can be with their friends and have fun,” Azad said. “We really hope that in two years when we graduate, the club can remain one of the pivotal clubs of our school.”