Spanish Immersion Graduation

Spanish Immersion Graduation


Katie Shake, Reporter

The 2015 Spanish Immersion graduation was held at the West High School Auditorium on May 4th, 2015. For those who don’t know, the Spanish Immersion program is one of the many language-based programs offered only at West.  The Spanish Immersion graduating class of 2015 has about nineteen students. Many of those who are graduating have been in the program since kindergarten at Government Hill Elementary School.

The full title of this program is The Spanish Two-Way Partial Immersion Program. It is a 13-year language program. The goal is to have the students in the program be able to speak fluently in both the English and Spanish languages. Students start learning how to speak Spanish in kindergarten and gradually become proficient in the language by the end of their senior year of high school. Only three schools in the Anchorage School District offer this specific program. These schools are Government Hill Elementary, Romig Middle School, and West.

The graduation ceremony itself was very touching and personal. Each graduate was required to write a speech and recite what they wrote in Spanish to the audience. If there were people in the audience who couldn’t understand Spanish, there were translations of the speeches in English, which made things easier. From what was said throughout the evening, most of the graduates implied in their speeches that the Spanish Immersion program was very beneficial to them in some way or another. “Being bilingual is truly a gift in my life,” said graduate Alice Skerjank, who has been in the program all thirteen years. When asked about what this program has done for her, Kim Michaca stated, “I’ve enjoyed my time in Spanish Immersion because I have made lifetime friends and have been able to learn a second language.”

For many of the students, the thought of graduating from the program is bitter sweet. For Muriel Walatka, she is “Happy that she won’t have to endure another mind crippling Spanish exam ever again but on the other hand is sad that she won’t get to see her friends everyday,” like she has been able to do these past 13 years. According to Alice Skerjanc, “I am very excited about graduating because I feel like I have accomplished something important in my life.”

“My favorite part about being in Spanish Immersion has been becoming really close with my classmates. I consider all of us to be a family,” according to Kim Michaca when asked about what her favorite thing has been throughout the time she’s been in the program. Muriel Walatka answered along the same lines as her classmate by saying, “My favorite thing about being in this program is that we have become a family through these past 13 years and I feel like I can trust my friends and fellow classmates with anything.”

Towards the end of the night I asked some of the graduates what advice they had to share with the younger Spanish immersion classes. Muriel Walatka said, “Enjoy your time with your immersion family because it’s really sad to say goodbye them when you graduate.” Kim Michaca’s advice to students is to stay focused and complete all the work that is assigned to you because in the long run it will be all worth it.