Students, families, and educators from Balfour Elementary School and North Asheboro Middle School (NAMS) celebrated their completion of the 2023 Spanish Heritage Language Academy (HLA) at UNC Greensboro on March 11.
HLA is a long-standing partnership between UNCG and Asheboro City Schools (ACS), which was first launched in 2009 based on teacher and family requests. This Saturday program engages both students and families in project-based heritage language and cultural exchanges facilitated by ACS educators. This year, a total of 42 students and 23 families completed Spanish and English bilingual projects. Through the HLA program, students are not only learning the Spanish language, but also engaged in learning with their parents.
ACS educators Jason Delgado, Jill Hancock, Jennifer Holland, Adriana Paschal, Alejandra Rodriguez, Pablo Sanmiguel, and Alexandra Suarez worked with students and families through the HLA this year. As Adriana Paschal, an educator from NAMS shared at the ceremony, “The idea behind this program throughout the years has been to build community, to promote more conversations within families and to preserve the heritage language and culture that goes along with it.”
Dr. Aaron Woody, ACS superintendent, offered remarks to the participants and underscored the importance of multilingual and multicultural education. He further extended invitations to parents to participate in the Latino Advisory meeting to offer their input.
At the celebration, Margarita Kerkado and Marisa González, together with UNCG Mi Herencia Student Ambassadors, David Cordero, Bertha Figueroa, Melissa Flores, Maritza Hernandez, Alondra Rodriguez, and Aidem (Santi) Ruiz-Vasquez shared college experiences for multilingual students at UNCG and offered more information regarding college access and the admissions process. ACS students, families, and educators also expressed interest in participating in campus tours offered in Spanish at UNCG.
With continued support and generous donation from Tommy and Nancy Teague, the group visited the Barnes & Noble bookstore after the celebration. UNCG student volunteers and ACS educators supported those who completed the HLA program for their book selection. Students and families purchased multilingual books and were excited to expand their book collections through their HLA engagement.