Renee Sang

Students prepared for the World Languages Festival.

Taylor Harris, Reporter

On Jan. 27, 2016, students from all over the county came together to celebrate different languages and cultures at the World Languages Festival at Winter Springs High School. Participants learned more about the languages that are taught in Seminole County, including Spanish, French, Sign Language, German and Chinese, by presenting songs, dances, speeches and artwork.

The festival was created to showcase the language abilities of Seminole County Public School (SCPS) world languages students. Students performed in three different categories: impromptu speaking and declamation, skits and art/multimedia. The World Languages Festival has been in place for 11 years.

“I enjoyed [the festival] a lot. I have so many trophies and certificates at my house from it. I enjoyed the experience because I also got to meet new people from different schools and I got to speak in the language that I’m currently learning,” states senior Laura Sawires, recounting her experiences with the World Languages Festival. Sawires also mentioned that she recommended the festival to her younger sister.

In order to rank students, judges were contacted based on their past participation in the event and/or through the SCPS Dividend volunteer list. The judges consisted of community members who were fluent in one of the participating languages.

While describing how judges rank students, Ms. Melody Sweigert, an International Baccalaureate (IB) Spanish 3 and 5 teacher, says, “The judges always take into account the level of the student (Spanish 1, 2, 3, 4, etc).”

Any student who is currently enrolled in a world language class was eligible to participate. For the entertainment section of the festival, each school could have one student per language. No specific attire was required of participants although some schools have school t-shirts made. Students also have the option to dress up in costume for their poetry recitation (declamation) and skits.

Mrs. Michelle Olah, a World Languages Curriculum Specialist for SCPS, explained the participant limit and how students were chosen. Olah states, “There is a limit of 20 students per language per school so sponsoring teachers may have had to choose students if more than [20 students] were interested in participating.”

The festival provided an exhilarating, educational experience for the participants for SHS and Seminole County learners. By broadening their horizons through culture and language, they prepare themselves to compete on a global level.