Whelan’s Spanish Club fosters connections

Whelan’s Spanish Club fosters connections

Gian Renzi practices spanish questions and answers during Friday’s Spanish Club session at Whelan Elementary School. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Just four weeks into a new program at Whelan Elementary School, students are already having basic conversations in Spanish.

Those involved in Whelan’s new Spanish Club said the enrichment program for 4th- and 5th-grade students has been well received.

Every Friday, a group of students from North Providence High School travels down Mineral Spring Avenue to volunteer their time with the younger students to teach them Spanish.

Tina Trovato, who introduced the club, said it has been a great way to bolster community relationships by teaming up with the high school students, who earn community service credits for their time volunteering.

In turn, the younger students have been given the opportunity to learn a new language, and they’re learning fast.

On the fourth Friday session of the 10-week program, students were beginning to string together complete conversations with one another.

“Cómo estás?” 4th-grade student Janice Phillips asked her partner.

“You can also say ‘qué tal,’ which means the same thing but is less formal,” her partner explained.

Through games like Jeopardy and Bingo, and card-matching activities, the students practiced Spanish numbers, days of the week, colors and basic conversations.

During an activity that asked students why they want to learn Spanish - or, ‘porque quires aprender Espanol?’ - many responded that their parents, grandparents or friends speak Spanish.

“I want to learn to speak to and understand others,” said Gian Renzi.

With an increasingly diverse student body, Trovato said it’s been good for the students to be given a better chance to connect with their Spanish-speaking peers

“The kids are really enjoying it,” said Trovato. “We’re very excited about this.”

Principal Amanda Donovan said part of the program’s success is thanks to its structure, with the high school students instructing their younger elementary peers.

“They listen to the older kids,” Donovan said. “They really respond to them.”