Students are inducted into the Spanish and Arabic honor societies


Photo by Ella Waldman, LT

Students accept their awards during the ceremony.

Ella Waldman, News Editor

On May 17 at 7:30 p.m. the World Languages Department hosted honor societies inductions and an awards recognition ceremony for Spanish and Arabic students. 

The awards recognition ceremony began with medal presentations from the National Spanish Examination, a test Spanish students take each year. This year, 65 CESJDS students took the exam with 27 earning gold medals, 22 earning silver medals and eight earning bronze medals. Five students also earned honor certificates awarded by the Spanish teachers for outstanding performance over the past year. 

Following the awards presentations for the exam, Spanish and Arabic students were inducted into their respective honor societies. In order to be inducted into the Hispanic Honor Society, students needed to maintain a grade of 89 percent or above for five quarters or three semesters. For the Arabic Honor Society, students must have completed at least one and a half years of high school level Arabic study with a 90 percent or higher and maintained an overall GPA of 3.0. 

The school’s Hispanic Honor Society chapter is named after Don Isaac Abravanel, a Portuguese Jewish philosopher. While this chapter was established many years ago, the Arabic honor society is significantly newer. 

The Arabic Honor Society was established in 2017, and the JDS chapter was one of the first created nationally, inducting its first class of students in 2018. It is named after Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist. 

“It’s a new thing that [was] developed by some organization in America to encourage people to study Arabic. And I was [at the] actual conference, and one of the meetings I was at was talking about the Honor Society, and I decided to build up the chapter here in DC,” high school Arabic and Hebrew teacher Dr. Hani Abo Awad said. 

For both inductions, students were asked to say a pledge that was designed by the mother organization and adapted for each school’s individual chapter. Students then signed their names in an official record book signaling their induction. They were given a certificate as proof of their induction as well as a t-shirt.

The World Languages Department worked together to coordinate all of the different aspects of the night, including scheduling, student participation, family invitations and which items would be given out following inductions and awards. Throughout this process, the staff who planned the event ensured that the entire program would truly highlight students learning foreign languages. 

“This is a ceremony in which we really want to recognize and showcase how well our students do,” World Languages Department Chair Dr. Silvia Kurlat Ares said. “Many years ago, when I started working here at the school, it used to be the case that it was the teachers who conducted the program. But over the years we came to realize that it is really… the students’ day to shine.”

This goal was achieved, as students explained how valuable the program was for them. 

“I think it was really nice that our progress [was] recognized,” sophomore Dalia Greenblum said. “We’ve been learning Arabic for so long, and we’ve been so devoted to Arabic class and completing all the assignments, and we put a lot of work in.”