Ortiz speaks fluently to her Latin American heritage in Spanish III

Ortiz is fluent in both Spanish and English and was placed into Spanish III in her freshman year.


Ortiz is fluent in both Spanish and English and was placed into Spanish III in her freshman year.

Kara Gallagher

Building a little doll and throwing it into a fire is not a typical way people celebrate the New Year. Yet this is how Ecuadorians traditionally celebrate, and Freshman Ariana Ortiz of Long Branch was able to be a part of this during a vacation to her mother’s homeland in 2018.

Celebrating New Year’s with a doll sacrifice is not the only thing that sets Ortiz apart from other students at CHS. She earned a spot in Spanish III class as a freshman because speaking Spanish comes naturally to her, due to her mother being from Ecuador and her father being from Puerto Rico.

Because of this, Spanish is her first language. She grew up speaking Spanish and started learning English through children’s books and television shows such as “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” and “The Backyardigans.” Preschool also aided Ortiz in learning English, and through tracing the alphabet and writing her name, she eventually became better.

At home, Ortiz’s Latin American heritage is apparent. She speaks Spanish when talking with her mom, and frequently eats Latin American food.

“Ceviche de camarón is my all-time favorite, but if I had to choose a second place it would be empanadas,” she added. After Ortiz’s flawless performance on the Spanish placement test speaking portion, Spanish III teacher Courtney Van Arsdale told her that she will do everything she can to get her to the higher level. After talking with guidance counselors, the class was worked into the freshman’s schedule.

“I guess if you’re a fluent speaker, welcome to Spanish III,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz started the class this semester, but she is not stressing about the typical aspects of Spanish class that other students worry about, such as remembering conjugations or knowing the difference between “ser” and “estar.” Rather, she is nervous about being the only freshman among a group of upperclassmen. Regardless, Ortiz is excited about this new opportunity.

“They’re all way older than me,” she said, “but I’m hoping to make new friends.”