February 11, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman
MAYFIELD, Ky.

Inside Sparks Elementary School students practiced giving speeches and 4-H demonstrations in preparation for their upcoming competition.

Standing in front of a group is never easy the first time, but consider what it must be like to have only been in the United States for less than a year and to have only started to learn the language. That is the circumstance some in the school’s Hispanic 4-H Club face. Other club members are fluent and have lived in the United States their entire lives.

The club, under the guidance of Tracey Adams, Graves County 4-H youth development agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, is for fourth-graders only.  After this fourth grade experience these students will return to 4-H programs held in classes at the school with all students participating.

“This particular activity, getting up and giving a speech, is something to this day that I get nervous about, so I think it is a wonderful opportunity,” said Lynn Primicias, an English as a second language educator at Sparks Elementary. “I’ve noticed that since practicing they’ve built confidence in the past few months and they are very proud of their work.” 

The speeches also go hand-in-hand with what Primicias teaches at the school. She works with non-English speaking students to get them fluent and works with those who are fluent but need to improve their reading and writing skills. She helps translate for the 4-H activities at the school.

Adams goes into all the fourth and fifth grade classrooms in the school and works with them on speeches and demonstrations. Fran Chester, the school’s guidance counselor works with Adams on the projects.

“We pull out fourth-grade Hispanic students to participate in Grupo Cuatro H, which means 4-H Club in Spanish,” Adams said. “We are orienting them to 4-H and letting them know what it is all about and then doing some of the lessons we feel would be beneficial to them.”

After fourth grade they are assimilated into the regular 4-H classroom activities.

“We wanted to give them something of their own to keep their identity as Hispanic students,” she said. “My main mission in 4-H is to get everyone interested in something they have a talent in so through 4-H I like to share the many different facets we have to offer. So many people don’t know that 4-H has a speech program or breads. Everyone thinks of agriculture when they think of 4-H but there are so many things. I want people to know that there is something for everyone in 4-H.”

The Hispanic club helps get them involved in what’s going on in the community and eliminates some of the isolation they may feel, Adams said. She is also working on a program that would link parents that speak English with parents that speak Spanish so they would have someone to contact when they have a school concern.

Fifth-graders Victor Escalante, 11, and Eduardo Oronia, 10, showed the fourth grade club recently what to expect in the coming year as they did their demonstration projects for the club. Victor was teaching people how to speak and write pig Latin while Eduardo was demonstrating how to draw a cartoon character called SpongeBob SquarePants.

“This is my first year in Sparks and I’m enjoying doing the posters and our introductions and conclusions,” Victor said.

Eduardo participated in the speech writing a year ago and finds the demonstrations fun.

“I like it because we get to show people how to do stuff and I love doing that and I like working with Miss Adams and Ms. Chester,” he said.   

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Contact: 

Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Tracey Adams, 270-247-2334