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Elaine Moffat: Learning from our amiguitos

new webMiddle and upper school Spanish students all pitched in April 22 to host the first ever “Día de amiguitos” (“Day of Little Friends”) at Greenhills.

The day evolved as a result of our students’ numerous visits to the Academy of the Americas (a Detroit Public Schools bilingual school), during which we learned that even talented first graders with excellent teachers work extremely hard, write lots of tests, and deserve some time to relax and have fun.

Greenhills sent several buses to pick up the 61 first graders, eight chaperones and three teachers for a day of diverse activities, food, and bonding with Greenhills students — all conducted in Spanish.

See a Flickr album of our photos here

After a nutritious snack and some ice-breaking games in Spanish (facilitated by Spanish teachers Elaine Moffat, Kevin Olson, Lisa Ortiz, and juniors Kaylee Carr-Taylor, Kirin Cromer, Edward Ferrey, Grace Geiger, Nina Joss, and Samantha Rondeau), the adorable first graders were divided into three groups and either played kickball or soccer outside, or chose between basketball, scooters, hula hoops and jump ropes in the West Gym.

During D period, the three groups colored special Mexican-themed bookmarks and then read Spanish books written over the years by Greenhills middle and high school Spanish students.

After a lunch provided by Greenhills in the Dance Studio, the students toured the outside of the school on their way to engage in E period activities, which included cookie decorating, singing, and charades.

At the end of E period, our guests returned to the All-School Forum, where goodbyes were said and many hugs were exchanged.  The children left Greenhills with special goodie bags, their bookmarks, and memories of a fun-filled day spent with older students who loved spending time with them and practicing their Spanish.

—Elaine Moffat, Spanish teacher

Greenhills Spanish students really enjoy these kinds of days where they get to directly interact with native Spanish-speaking students and practice their Spanish. Here are some reflections from students of different grades:

“Friday was fun to me because I got to meet new kids.  I love spending time with kids anyway, which is why I enjoyed Friday all the more.  The part of the day that stood out to me was reading a book and decorating a bookmark with Cristo, a shy but really awesome and cute kid.  I also enjoyed playing soccer with the first graders.  I also got to practice my Spanish in conversation, which obviously is what we’re learning Spanish for:  to be able to converse with Spanish speakers.  I thought it was an awesome, fun, and educational day.”
Johannes Kretzler, 8th grade

“This day was great! I really loved these little kids who were better at Spanish and just as good in English as I am!  The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and I enjoyed hosting the day at Greenhills instead of going to Academy of the Americas—I think it was more like a special field trip for them this way.  Overall it was a fun day and it was a great thing for the Spanish Department to host.”
Maya Jordan 9th grade

“Overall, I absolutely loved the day! There were many great things about it. The best part was each time a kid smiled, and they smiled a lot! All the activities we did with them – from playing kickball, singing songs, decorating bookmarks and cookies, to playing games like charades and Simon says – always made the kids smile. I think the activities we did were good ones, too. They gave the kids chances to express themselves – like the icebreaker game and the charades game. They also gave the kids chances to speak in Spanish, as it did for us – like with the songs. Above all, they allowed the kids and ourselves to relax and have fun! I think next year we should have the kids come to Greenhills again because I, along with my peers, feel like we did more activities and had more fun here at Greenhills. From what we remember about going to their school is that all we did was read and eat lunch. It was also probably more enjoyable for the kids to be entertained than to entertain. Thank you for again the opportunity to hangout with the kids and have a great day!”
Sam Rondeau, 11th grade

“Día De Amiguitos was the first time I have ever been surrounded by so many incredible children. Two girls in particular, Mariana and Kenya, made that day one of the best of all my time here at Greenhills. Before the children arrived I had been tired and stressed, but the moment they got to the school my day was brightened. Before I even introduced myself, three little girls ran up to me, told me their names, and gave me a huge hug. I had never been very fond of children. I had always imagined them as being clueless and ignorant and so I never really gave myself a chance to interact with them. But after meeting all of the little kids on Día De Amiguitos, I realized how complex and truly incredible kids could be. Each child I met had stories, opinions, and deep thoughts about everything and anything you could imagine. Mariana told me of her life in Mexico City and the differences between life there and in the United States, about her pet bunny that her dad rescued from inside of a wall, and about how happy she was that her brother was going to come visit her from Mexico soon. I realized that there really isn’t much difference between us aside from age and that even children can teach us important lessons. Although the day was meant to help the children, I think it may have helped me even more. Their courage, enthusiasm and kindness inspired me. I know that they will all grow up to be incredible people and I hope that I get the chance to meet them all again. “
Leah Kaplan, 12th grade

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.