Students teaching students espanol in Greencastle-Antrim

Brooke Kerstetter counts the votes. Remy Wible, left, and Karrington Doyle and most of their classmates wanted to learn the Spanish names of foods.

A foreign language is becoming a little bit familiar to fourth graders at Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School. In a partnership with the high school Spanish National Honor Society, the students are stepping outside their comfort zone of English.

"This is to expose them to other cultures’ backgrounds," said teacher Jill Gilbert. "Spanish is a prevalent secondary language. And the excitement is there to learn it."

Her students, and those of Darlene Signore, Amy Layton and Alison McKissick, have several sessions a week with teenagers in charge. Spanish NHS member Brooke Kerstetter passed out worksheets in one room, and Lindsey Sutton worked with youngsters across the hall. Both are seniors, volunteering with their peers for the half-hour stints.

"Someone comes in every other day," said Kerstetter. "We teach basic vocabulary."

The children study the alphabet, numbers, colors, animals and other topical words.

Signore started a Spanish Club second semester, and contacted G-AHS language teacher Nicole Paci-Funk for assistance. The honor society members agreed to help, as it gave them an opportunity to earn points to maintain their active status in the group. The first club meeting, for third- and fourth-graders, was in March.

"It was very successful," Signore recalled. "The high school students were amazing. I was totally motivated to make this happen because I have been talking for years that we need to have World Languages as a special class at the elementary level."

The first club experience was reading 'Green Eggs and Ham' in Spanish.

Paci-Funk then offered Spanish in more depth. That kicked off May 1. Signore said the students were benefitting from the extra instruction. "They look forward to Spanish Class days."