By Ariel Sheinberg
World language classes have become a key component of high school curriculums around the world, and certainly at Byram Hills. Students at BHHS are given the choice of taking either, French, or Italian, and then pursue their language for a minimum of 3 years. Often when studying these languages, many students discover a passion and tend to excel in their language. These exceptional students are then inducted into The World Language Honor Society during their senior year.
The World Language Honor Society is a group that acknowledges and celebrates achievements in foreign language classrooms throughout the high school. Specifically, students who receive an A or higher all three years of learning their language are admitted. World Language Department Chair Ms. Stahl explained that the admissions process was much more selective, but it has changed in recent years to be more inclusive. She said, “We changed the requirements for getting in to make the process more comprehensive and inclusive. We used to only allow students in who had first, second, and third quarter As, which was not ideal because a kid wasn’t allowed to have a mistake or bad quarter.” More students have been admitted in recent years than in years past, making this society a celebratory trademark of success in the language classroom for more students than ever before.
For the induction to the society each year, a keynote speaker is chosen. Last year, history teacher Mr. Torres, who was also awarded teacher of the year, spoke. This year, senior Sarah Fakler was chosen to be the keynote speaker. According to Ms. Stahl, Sarah was chosen because “she is someone who embraces global competency, specifically her level of using a language to achieve global competency.” Sarah has not only excelled in her language in school, but she takes her love for languages outside of the classroom as well. “Besides Spanish, I also study Korean and Japanese outside of school,” noted Sarah.
Students admitted to the society most definitely have good grades, but that’s not where the passion stops. To many of them, learning a language is imperative to being successful. “For me, foreign languages are important because they unlock other parts of the world,” Sarah says, “and learning them develops the skills of empathy, open-mindedness, and critical thinking that are essential for our generation as global citizens.” At the ceremony, Sarah gave a strong and well-written speech that touched on the topics of the importance of learning languages and being globally competent.
Every year, learning languages becomes increasingly important for students everywhere. As larger numbers of students are studying or working abroad, learning a language opens up opportunities and increases choices. The World Language Honor Society does a great job of celebrating language achievements. Congratulations to Sarah and all the inductees!