The 67 students that comprise Huntington High School’s Spanish Honor Society chapter never sit on their collective hands. The organization is constantly on the move.
The group has been busy fundraising for its annual scholarship program and to cover costs associated with community related events. Students hold monthly after school bake sales that raise needed dollars.
The organization is led by co-Presidents Ariana Strieb and Edgar Rivas, Vice-President Julia Segal, Treasurer Alex Rivera, Secretaries Emely Lopez and Yady Acevado and Administrative Assistant Jack Langton. Teachers Nadine Araoz and Maria Gonzalez are the group’s faculty advisors.
One of the Spanish Honor Society’s most important initiatives is its monthly social groups/grupo social program, which brings the organization’s members together with English as a New Language students to practice each participant’s second language as they engage in discussions, play games and enjoy various fun educational activities.
“It’s a really great time for all of us to meet students we don’t normally see during our day and learn from each other,” Ms. Strieb said. “I get to practice my Spanish and help students learning English practice theirs.”
The organization has also made donations to support providing homeless men in the community with much needed items, including clothing, deodorant, etc. “We also participated in a Huntington Interfaith Housing Initiative event where we helped set up and translate for the attendees,” Ms. Strieb said.
During Hispanic Heritage Month last September, Spanish Honor Society members read daily announcements over the building’s public address system educating students and staff about accomplished Latino individuals and historical figures “and all they have accomplished,” Ms. Strieb said. The group also affixed celebratory and informative posters around the school.
The organization always has something exciting planned. Last spring it hosted a wildly successful indoor soccer tournament that drew a diverse group of students.
The organization will induct a new group of members on Thursday, May 23. Its two faculty advisors are “all-in” with the group and are just as energetic as the students in the group.
Ms. Araoz is a graduate of Herricks High School, She went on to earn a BA degree in history at SUNY Albany and a master’s degree in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) at LIU/C.W. Post. She completed her state certification student teaching requirements at Port Washington.
Prior to coming to Huntington UFSD, Ms. Araoz taught English in the Czech Republic for one year before returning to the United States and moving to Baton Rouge where her husband was pursuing a Ph.D. at Louisiana State University. She taught ESL for seven years in Louisiana.
Mrs. Araoz began her career in Huntington when the couple returned to Long Island in 2002. She has taught at Southdown School, J. Taylor Finley Middle School and the high school.
In her free time, Mrs. Araoz enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, traveling and reading. “I love all the seasons and enjoy being outdoors in all of them; beach in the summer and skiing in the winter,” she said.
Ms. Gonzalez completed high school in her native Columbia, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree at Universidad de los Andes. After immigrating to the United States, she earned a master’s degree in Spanish literature at CUNY Queens College.
Prior to coming to Huntington High School three years ago, Ms. Gonzalez was on the faculty at Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica Estates. “I have enjoyed the Huntington community, the students and the camaraderie that exists in the district,” she said.
In her free time, Ms. Gonzalez enjoys working on collages, dancing and writing. “I am planning to complete a short stories book in the middle of spring,” she said.
“I love the Spanish Honor Society because of the enthusiasm and care students show for the organization,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “They plan many activities, such as donating to the needy, tutoring, using Spanish to help the community, and building bridges to better understand each other. I am lucky to co-advise the society with Nadine Araoz and having the help of Mercy Peña, the previous faculty advisor, who has been integral to the group’s success.”