The Absegami High School World Language Honor Society - an umbrella group made up of the school's Spanish, French and, new for 2013, Latin honor societies - held its induction ceremony March 14, bringing 57 new honorees into the fold.
Spanish teacher and Spanish Honor Society advisor Aurora Boyette said that in committing themselves to the study of another language, the inductees have helped themselves personally and professionally.
"I think the world languages today are more important than ever, with a global economy," Boyette said. "These kids, already some of them are bilingual. Picking up another language and doing well could open up great opportunities in their career later on."
To be eligible to join the societies, students must complete a certain number of years - three for Spanish and French, two for Latin - with an A average.
Of the new members, 37 joined the Spanish society, which is by far the largest of the three groups. The French society brought in six new members, and the Latin society inducted an inaugural group of 14.
The Spanish Honor Society, established by Boyette in 2006, was the first language honor society at Absegami. The French society followed a year later and, after a few years of discussion, Latin is now part of the program.
Absegami Latin teacher and honor society advisor Zach Mack said his students have been asking for a Latin counterpart to the Spanish and French societies for years. When they finally got one, they jumped at the chance to be part of it.
"When I told them at the beginning of the year that we were going to have it, they were all very excited," Mack said, "and when the paperwork came out, they had it in the next day, ready to go."
The March 14 program opened with an introductory address by Spanish Honor Society President Nicolette Rallo, who introduced the evening's keynote speaker, Superior Court Judge Julio L. Mendez, assignment judge of the Atlantic/Cape May Vicinage.
Mendez, who lived in Spanish-speaking countries until he moved to the United States midway through high school, speaks English and Spanish fluently.
He spoke to the students about the importance of bilinguality in the globalized world.
Rallo, whose parents are Columbian immigrants, is also bilingual. She agreed with Mendez's message, saying her dual language skills have served her well.
"I've traveled a lot, and I've been able to 'survive,'" Rallo said. "I've visited South America twice, and I was able to get around and really take in the experience because I was able to interact with people."
Because language skills are in high demand, fluency is a big resume booster for students who acquire it.
Likewise, membership in one of the foreign language honor societies, which perform various community service projects, is a good thing for college resumes.
But while bullet points on the resume are all well and good, for Latin Honor Society inductee Dante Venafro, it's the pride of being able to wear his Latin knowledge on his sleeve that will make membership most worthwhile.
"I wanted to be able to graduate this year and have that purple and gold on me, and that whole experience of being proud of the language that I learned and now I'm able to," Venafro said. "I'm super pumped."
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