A team of three advanced Spanish students at Chatham Charter School earned a rating of superior during the 2020 Learning Through Languages High School Research Symposium on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. The annual event is a collaborative effort of world studies and language programs at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University. Their staff and graduate students judge the projects each year. The sixth annual session of the event was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Eleventh graders Brooke Gardner, Brandon McKoy, and Thomas O’Hara represented Chatham Charter. Spanish teacher Mery Rojas worked closely with the students through the research process as she has for her teams in previous years of competition, where her students have consistently received high ratings.
Each team of students chose from the topics of social justice, COVID-19 impact, or sustainability & the environment for their research papers. Presented in the language the students are studying, they also focused on a certain region of the world. There were twenty-five teams from high schools across the state that participated in the 2020 Symposium.
The Chatham Charter team created a website detailing its study of how German students, schools, and communities navigated the COVID-19 pandemic from March through November. They worked with a former Chatham Charter foreign exchange student, Lina Sibum, who lives in Germany, during the project.
“We are impressed that our Spanish students have once again been able to highlight their strong language acquisition. The fact that they did this project in addition to their regular classwork during a pandemic that forced us into remote instruction is even more noteworthy. Señora Rojas instills in her students a passion for the Spanish language and inspires them to use their skills outside of the traditional school setting. The Symposium is an outstanding opportunity for high school students to hone their research skills in a second language and also compare their skill level to that of other high school students. This team’s creativity in reconnecting with one of our own former foreign exchange students was a wonderful way to help us maintain connections with our alumni,” said Dr. John Eldridge, Head of School.