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Exploring the Legacy of the Spanish Honor Society at Liberty

Members and sponsors at the induction ceremony of the Spanish Honor Society.

As numerous students come into high school, they try to get involved in the school’s community. Many join sports, clubs, or even honor societies. This school year, the Spanish Honor Society has made a major comeback at Liberty High School, which is an incredible opportunity for many students to get involved in their school. The Spanish Honor Society was at Liberty before, almost a decade ago, but unfortunately, it ended in 2016, until now. This school year, the honor society was assembled by two Spanish teachers, Mrs. Yajaira Jaraba and Mrs. Autumn Aceto, at Liberty High School. It is striking how the honor society has revived over a long period, with great strength.“The Spanish Honor Society will help show and educate people about Spanish and Portuguese culture and tradition, that they don’t know yet,” said sophomore, Natalie Miyasato

On December 29, 1917, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) was founded. It was originally founded in New York City. Which later on developed and is where they added Portuguese to the name in 1944. In the present day, the association is composed of 10,000 members and 60 charters around the USA and Canada. 

The Spanish Honor Society was first founded in 1953. It was established by Spanish teachers who wanted to identify students’ achievements in the Spanish language and also Portuguese. During World War 1, numerous schools discontinued teaching and offering classes in the German language. Therefore, the Spanish language became very popular among the other languages. Many of the teachers who taught the Spanish language were fluent so they all came together and formed the association to heighten the language and to show off students’ achievements.

 The Spanish Honor Society is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). The name was later changed to Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica in 1959. The main purpose of this organization was to uplift people to learn about Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian culture and their languages. There are more than 2,900 national and international chapters of the Spanish Honor Society.

The Spanish Honor Society first emerged at Liberty High School in 2006. In 2006, Magaly Reder started the chapter at LHS with her efforts. The name of the chapter is called “Las Aguilas”. Additionally, the chapter’s “Las Aquilas” colors are red and gold. The most significant thing for their chapter is their insignia and seal which stand as the mother of the association.“I know for sure that we will be able to educate people on Spanish and Portuguese culture,” said senior James Lacey “I find Spanish fascinating because since I learned the language I’m able to speak to people that couldn’t before.”

Mrs. Jaraba, one of the sponsors with three members of the Spanish Honor Society, Chase Covington, Andrew Ryman, and James Lacey.

While “Las Aguilas” has made a comeback this school year after a seven-year gap year, this is Mrs. Jaraba and Mrs. Autumn’s first year holding the chapter.

“The Spanish Honor Society will grow through the next years that will come,” said senior, Andrew Ryman “The sponsors are loving and caring.” Many of the members feel that the Spanish Honor Society gives students an exciting new opportunity here at Liberty.“I think the Spanish Honor Society will influence more people to learn the language and culture,” said senior Davyn Guskiewicz “Honestly I feel privileged to be a member and that I’m excelling in the Spanish language.”

Liberty’s Spanish Honor Society held its induction ceremony on November 14, 2023. The ceremony started with the President giving greetings to everyone, then the secretary would give a summary and introduction of the Spanish Honor Society’s history and purpose. Candles were handed to each member and the President would tell the members that they had initiated and show them the mother candle and that it represents inspiration. Again, the secretary would speak up and recite a poem by the poet Gasper Núñez de Arce. The poem is called “¡Excélsior!”.

The induction ceremony setup on November 14, 2023.

“¿Por qué los corazones miserables, por qué las almas viles, En los fieros combates de la vida, ni luchan ni resisten? ¡El espíritu humano es más constante cuanto más se levante! Dios puso el fango en la llanura, y puso la roca en la montaña. La blanca nieve, que en los hondos valles derrítese ligera, en las altivas cumbres permanece inmutable y eterna”. 

The translation of the poem is: “Why do humble spirits, why do lowly souls, In the fierce combats of life, neither struggles must? The human spirit is more constant the more it rises! God put mud in the lowland, and he put the rock in the mountains. The white snow, which in the deep valleys melts quickly, On the high peaks remains unchangeable and eternal.”

After the poem is read, then Mrs. Aceto reads “Each has a candle in his (her) hand. This typifies our course of life. Thus, without burning, it exists but does not live. That candle is saying: “If they burn me, I live; if not, I die.” May our lives never be candles unburned! Now each of you will come, in turn, to this mother candle, to receive from it the symbolic flame, the flame which symbolizes with its heat the inspiration toward high ideals. Each will come forward on hearing his (her) name.” Mrs. Jaraba will read every name of each candidate.

 Finally, after each name is read, each candidate will repeat the oath of the society. 

Members of the Spanish Honor Society in the middle of the ceremony as Mrs. Aceto speaks.

The oath is: “As a member of the Águila Chapter, I promise to devote myself to the study of the Spanish language to master it, remembering that a language can be a strong tie between persons of differing origins of race or religion. As a citizen of my country, I promise to promote friendship and understanding between it and the other lands of the world. This is my promise and my oath.” 

After every member lit their candle, they would proceed to blow them out. After every candle was blown, everyone was officially named a member of the chapter, “Las Aguilas”, as well of the Spanish honor society. 

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About the Contributor
Connie Ulloa, Editor
Hello! My name is Connie Ulloa and I'm a senior at LHS. This is my second year at Liberty’s Patriot Press. This year I'm an editor and I'm excited about what opportunities this position will provide for me down the road. I'm ultimately excited to do journalism again. I'm really passionate about writing articles for Patriot Press for our students, teachers, staff, and others who are interested in the stories we cover. Some of my passions are writing, playing soccer, arts and crafts, and cooking.

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