Vaya con Dios, Diego...honor society MIA

Dónde en el mundo es Diego Rivera? At the onset of the 2016-2017 West school year, Spanish students were informed that the honor society would be disbanded. Diego Rivera allowed avid Spanish students to graduate with honors in the language if they maintained a B or higher average and were actively involved in activities pertaining to the Hispanic culture. For language department chair, Spanish teacher, and advisor of Diego Rivera, Kathy Heinen, dissolving the honor society wasn’t easy, but it was necessary due to multiple Spanish organizations overlapping.

“After the language department’s end of the year evaluation, we realized that there were four extracurricular Spanish opportunities” she said. “These opportunities being Spanish club, the AFS study abroad program, Diego Rivera, as well as the Global Education Achievement Certificate offered through the Global Academy.”

Like Heinen, numerous members of the honor society were disappointed when word spread about the organization’s termination. Senior Diego Rivera member, Emily Edsell, was disappointed to hear of the loss.

“It’s unfortunate that Diego Rivera will no longer be provided at Oshkosh West,” she said. “I believe it motivated students to get good grades and it helped them find a passion for the raw beauty of the language and culture.”

Like Edsell, senior Diego Rivera member Austin Fox was also distraught to see the society vanish. Fox reflected on his experience last year.

“When I heard that Diego Rivera wasn’t going to be continued this year, I was confused and upset,” he said. “Diego Rivera helped me get to know my other Spanish speaking colleagues and it helped me understand what it means to be a Spanish student.”

Despite disappointment from members, Heinen perceived numerous drawbacks that prohibited the honor society from flourishing.

“Many students involved in Diego Rivera were also involved in many other extracurricular activities at West, causing overlaps and time issues with our activities,” she said. “Other opportunities, like the Global Education Achievement Certificate offered through the Global Academy program, also allows students to graduate with honors as well as giving students the ability to partake in cultural experiences and opportunities, just as Diego Rivera did.”

Despite the extra-curricular redundancies, many students wish to see the return of Diego Rivera in the near future in order to create memories for others.

“I would love for Diego Rivera to come back,” Edsell said. “I believe West has an amazing foreign language department and Diego Rivera made it even better!”

The elimination of the honor society has been accompanied by the speculation of a decline in language enrollment but, contrary to popular belief, the language program is actually expanding rather than declining due to the increased enrollment.

“More people are continuing their Spanish education throughout all of high school, rather than only doing the two years required for college admission,” Heinen said. “Many students are beginning to realize the benefits of increasing their skills and continuing their foreign language education throughout high school.”

Numerous students, like Edsell, are choosing to go beyond the two year requirement and pursue Spanish as a long- term commitment.

“I believe my interest in Spanish grew immensely being involved,” she said. “It actually became a big part of what pushed me to pursue a major/minor in Spanish at a four year university next year.”

Although there may not be any light at the end of the tunnel for Diego Rivera, Heinen hopes that students will still find other ways to get involved in the Spanish culture here at West and throughout the community.

“I hope that students will take advantage of the opportunities being offered through Spanish club, which will still be available to Spanish students, as well as those being presented through the Global Academy program,” she said.

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