The Spanish 3 honors class at Richmond Senior High School is helping the Rockingham Police Department and the community.
Diana Janica’s Spanish class is helping local law enforcement “develop better ways to communicate with Spanish speaking residents,” said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly.
The class has begun working with various agencies within the RPD and identifying the needs of the department. They are researching and collecting data to prepare a booklet, app, or brochure to help police officers when they encounter a Spanish speaker.
“They feel they need to help the community,” Janica said of her students.
Because the “Spanish speaking population is coming up,” said Janica, police officers need a way to quickly and efficiently translate and communicate with residents who speak little to no English when a translator is not available.
Choosing to help the RPD was the students idea. “We wanted to help the community and police officers learn Spanish,” said Chelsea Convington, an 11th grader.
The information will give the officers something to use when dealing with the public. This public interaction includes check points, D.U.I stops and also a variety of civic duties that do not pertain to anyone breaking the law, officials said.
Janica, who has been teaching at RSHS for six years, is eager to help the community she loves. “It’s amazing here,” she said.
What the students are doing is considered by the objectives of the North Carolina Educational Standard for World Languages to be community service, and while the students do receive a grade it is not weighted as much as other grades.
“They have never asked how much the grade weighs, they just want to help,” said Janica. This means that the grade is not counted as high as other grades in the class.
“We want to show how important learning Spanish is,” said 11th grader Briana David.
This is the third year the class is joining together to make the community better. Last year the students chose to help the Richmond County Health Department by taking brochures and forms and translating them into Spanish. They also added phonetic spelling to unfamiliar words to help English-speaking health care providers pronounce them easier.
The students will present their information and work to the police officers by Jan. 22, the end of the semester.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.