In an effort to celebrate cultural diversity through friendship, English as a Second Language (ESL) students at Sam Houston Math Science & Technology Center have created a club for newcomers. This new after-school program, Circle of Friends, has over 50 members, some of whom have been in the United States for less than three months. For new students who have just arrived from a different country, adjusting to life in the U.S. can be very overwhelming. Some of these obstacles include: not having any friends, not knowing the American culture, and the most daunting of them all, not knowing English. With the help of Circle of Friends the primary focus is to help English as a Second Language students’ transition to a new school, a new country, and the American culture. This program offers tutoring, peer mentoring, and most of all friendship.
Several administrators, teachers, and parent volunteers have worked extremely hard to help these students succeed. Assistant Principal Margaret Neely has a big part in overseeing this program’s success. She assists the students in helping them locate their classrooms, getting their locker, and getting an ID. Basically, everything that can make their transition easier, with one goal in mind: comfort.
Another wonderful lady who is the heart of the ESL program is Lilia Cerna. “She is an amazing woman,” Neely stated. Cerna, the sponsor of Circle of Friends, recruits students who are new to the country, and helps them in any way possible. Mrs. Neely also says, “Our ESL Program is so successful because of her.”
In celebration of a successful first semester Mrs. Cerna, Mrs. Neely and parent volunteers Maribel Alvares and Dina Rodriguez organized a party full of excitement. The school’s mariachi performed several songs, pizza was served, and awards were given. They feel it is a way to make the students feel welcome and support them in their efforts to continue to work hard in school.