Languages open up worlds

Evan Kauffman, Reporter

International languages such as German, Spanish and Russian have caught the interest and expanded the world of several students.

Miriam Ward, senior, is currently studying Spanish and has been throughout her entire high school career.

Ward is learning Spanish in order to communicate with more people in the community and to be able to talk to native speakers everywhere.

“Where we live, a lot of people speak Spanish,” Ward said. “It also helps me understand more languages in general.”

The school offers Spanish classes from Spanish I up to AP Spanish V.

Another student, Caleb Hundelt, senior, studies and has always been interested in the German language and culture.

“It’s a very unique language, and I have German family heritage,” Hundelt said.

German I up through German IV are the only available German classes to take here.

Another German student, Sean Yake, junior, has taken his learning experience one step further by immersing himself in the German language and in the culture through a foreign exchange program in Germany.

The foreign exchange trip Yake went on was run by a company called CBYX and is partnered with another company called FLAG.

“My language skills were pretty choppy [before traveling abroad]. I did well in German, but I never really studied too much,” Yake said, “but after going to Germany, my skills are insanely better.”

Yake left for his studies in Germany in early August and is due to return sometime in early to mid June.

“My favorite part about this trip has been all the sight seeing and meeting people from tons of different countries as well as being able to really help refugees,” Yake said.

Putting himself in the middle of the action has changed Yake’s view on how rural German families function in everyday life.

“They’re pretty isolated and very satisfied with just eating, working, and sleeping,” Yake said.

Yake hopes to use the German skills he has acquired for a career one day.

However, Yake isn’t entirely sure how he is going to use it.

Learning a foreign language can help in many more ways than just communication with other people, however.

“Learning another language helps skills such as problem solving and other cognitive functions in your brain. Overall, it strengthens your brain,” Michael Flenthrope, Spanish teacher, said.

Flenthrope has been studying Spanish since he was young and is now a fluent speaker; he has continued his passion for learning new languages by studying both German and French.

Different languages are used around the world, and many of those languages can be found everywhere, even here in Olathe.

“When you learn another language, you learn to see the world through a new pair of glasses,” Flenthrope said.

Some students are naturally fluent in another language from birth through family and environmental factors.

Sofija Thomas, junior, and Aleks Kostic, senior, are both fluent in Serbian while Daniel Moriera, senior, and Caio Silva, senior, are both fluent in Portuguese.

Knowing these languages can help people later in life by helping them pursue career paths such as translators or social workers.

“I was born in Russia, so [Russian] was my first language,” Tamera Sanborn, sophomore, said. “It makes it easier sometimes to get a job.”

The school also has classes available for students wanting to take a Japanese, French, or American Sign Language class.

Daniel Moreira
Senior, Mirian Ward, is at her fourth Spanish year. The student has already visited Spain and looks forward into learning more of the language.