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As the only language offered at CHS, every student takes Spanish class during their time here. Some may think of it as a struggle — but for freshman Isabella Carmona-Ramirez of Long Branch, it’s second nature.
As a native speaker, Carmona-Ramirez is the only freshman amongst a sea of juniors in her Spanish III class.
Spanish was her first language. She learned from her mother, a native of Colombia, as well as by reading small Spanish books. It wasn’t until Carmona-Ramirez started school that she began to learn English.
“We kind of had to figure it out ourselves,” she said.
At home, she always speaks Spanish with her mother, but keeps conversations with her older brother in English, who was already fluent by the time she was born.
“He helped me learn, since my mother knew only a bit of English to just get around,” she said.
Both of her parents both moved to the United States from Colombia before she was born. At home, aspects of her cultural roots are evident. She usually eats traditional Colombian foods, including lentils, arepas and empanadas.
When asked what her daily diet is like, Carmona-Ramirez ardently replied, “Oh my god, rice and beans every day.”
She has been to Colombia multiple times, the first when she was only two months old, and the most recent visit during the past summer.
When Carmona-Ramirez took the placement test for Spanish II last May, she was wary of trying for Spanish III despite encouragement from her mother. Then, after a conversation with Spanish teacher Karen Britto, she decided to apply.
Carmona-Ramirez is now a lone freshman in a class of juniors taught by Spanish teacher Gail Plumeri.
“They’re all really sweet but I don’t really fit in anywhere, though it’s not their fault,” she said.
Given the choice, however, she said that she would still remain in the same class.
Though Carmona-Ramirez would not consider the course super easy, she considers her language to be a distinct advantage.
“When I have a huge exam, I can just brush by and not worry about it,” she said.