Spanish VI reminds students relevance of internet safety


Ellie Findell

Students work on their presentations during Spanish class and learn tips from Senor Castellanos.

Mimi Geller, RubicOnline Editor

In just two weeks the seniors will be gone for their senior projects, leaving their high school life forever. Before their departure they will take exams at the end of April. Exam time is sure to be full of stress, cramming and continuous studying. Senior students will race around to find their teachers and some will most likely reminisce as this is their last final exam at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. This is not the case for Spanish VI seniors.

Social media and the internet are and continue to thrive as an undeniable component of everyday modern living. This is particularly true for younger generations as it seems many kids now have iPods and other gadgets as soon as they begin primary school. While technology advances, so does its use. As the internet and social media increasingly seem to contaminate every facet of SPA student’s lives, it is always prevalent to evaluate intentions for technology. With this sentiment in mind, students in Spanish VI class are currently creating presentations about internet safety and hazards to be presented to the middle schoolers. For seniors, this is their final assessment, not an exam.

Senior and Spanish VI student Emily Dieperink will be giving her presentation with other classmates on cyber bullying. The process of this assessment includes extensive research, translation, implementation of creative components and overall construction of how to convey the messages.

These younger students need to be aware of how these things on the internet work

— US Spanish Teacher Rolando Castellanos

“Creating the presentations has been pretty standard. Right now we are doing research and putting it into Google slides. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s presentations and seeing what questions the middle schoolers have for us,” Dieperink said.

Digital identity, the dangers of sending explicit images, cyber bullying and internet predators are all topics being researched, discussed and synthesized – in Spanish, of course. US Spanish Teacher Rolando Castellanos annually integrates this presentation towards the end of the year as their information towards internet safety are continually relevant.

“It is pertinent all the time. As younger kids begin to go deeper into the world of using social media and to stay connected to friends and what not, it’s not given for any particular reason other than the fact that these younger students need to be aware of how these things on the internet work: how they build their digital identity, what puts them at risk, how to somewhat prevent putting yourself at risk and how to react when you feel something wrong happening,” Castellanos said.

Dieperink additionally believes the presentation’s ever present relevance in today’s modern society. As a high schooler herself who has inevitably engaged and learned from her own social media use, she reflects upon its importance for younger kids who are being exposed to the internet sooner in their lives.

I think it’s important for them to learn about this because more and more kids have an online presence, especially on Instagram. It is super important to learn to be safe online, especially because just the fact that they are kids makes them targets,” Dieperink said.

Continual reminders and new information are always accessible, but for these specific projects, US students must additionally present to middle schoolers what not to do, not just general information. Most middle schoolers are typically tech savvy, however, they may lack the knowledge Upper School students have about internet safety as they haven’t been on the internet as long as current high school students have.

I think it’s important for them to learn about this because more and more kids have an online presence

— Senior Emily Dieperink

“By not following proper protocol, these kids could put themselves at risk with people with ill intentions. We cover a series of topics that are somewhat risky as sharing images that are explicit or that could compromise them, make sure they have their social media settings set properly, what not to do if they suspect if they are victims, how to talk to adults for help and protection,” Castellanos said.

Not only do these presentations offer a unique opportunity for students gain knowledge of internet safety, they are a chance for students to use the ability to engage the language and convey new information. Learning about real life issues like the hazards of social media invoke middle schoolers to understand that discussing complicated modern day problems can also be taught in Spanish class. For Upper Schoolers, this alternative to an exam provides a meaningful way to deliver their newfound knowledge and put it to purpose.

“Teaching them all of this in a second language serves two purposes. There’s newfound usage of a language that is older than English to learn about something that is practical and useful. At the time, students will be learning new phrases and vocabulary they wouldn’t know. This gives the older students an opportunity to use their skills to teach something and it gives the younger students an opportunity to learn something practical, but also see forward as where they could be if they stay in the program,” Castellanos said.

The actual presentations will take place April 25 and 27 where Spanish VI classes will travel to the middle school to present. Although the topics will vary, the overarching messages remain universal: acknowledge your digital footprint, use precaution and contact adults if something doesn’t feel right.