Gerstell Academy Junior Wins National Travel Award

Zavian Valedon, a junior at Gerstell Academy, has won the 2022 Bertie Green Junior Travel Award from the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH), a national honor society for high school students studying Spanish or Portuguese. Zavian has demonstrated leadership in the Gerstell Academy chapter of the SHH for the past two and a half years. Through his dedication to the study of Spanish, he has developed excellent skills in the language. His application of the Gerstell Leadership Model has empowered him to approach the extensive application process for this highly competitive award with passion, conviction and persistence. He has been awarded an all-expense paid trip to Puerto Rico! This July he will join an elite group of national winners in San Juan, Ponce, Cabo Rojo, Bosque Estatal de Guanica, and Fajardo.

Additional Information:
This national award is a prestigious honor for Zavian and Gerstell Academy. Each SHH chapter in the United States may choose one junior member to apply for this award. Only 24 students from over 2,900 SHH chapters across the United States were selected. As the candidate from Gerstell Academy´s Capítulo Julia Álvarez, Zavian submitted samples of his written and oral work in Spanish to a selection committee appointed by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. He spoke about his motivation for continuing to study Spanish and wrote an essay in which he identified an aspect of the culture of Puerto Rico and explained why he would investigate it further if he had an opportunity to visit the country.
Zavian´s leadership in the Gerstell chapter of the SHH is remarkable. He is generous with his time, talents and treasures and he inspires others as they plan a spring fair to celebrate Hispanic cultures. He enjoys translating community notices for for our local Hispanic community and posts such information on social media in Spanish. Additionally, Zavian taught his peers how to edit and share video interviews which were conducted in the community to survey prior knowledge about Hispanic Heritage Month. He assisted with creating subtitles in Spanish for any interviews that were in English, and subtitles in English for those conducted in Spanish. Zavian also teaches Spanish to a kindergarten class two days per week.
Zavian took the initiative to work with a teacher and subsequently master the “can do’s” for a level IV Spanish course during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years. He matriculated into level V, a Pre-AP class, as a sophomore. He earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy, Level 1, Functional Fluency and has founded a new club - el Club de Conversación y Literatura. Members meet regularly to discuss current events, explore cultural topics in Spanish, and read short stories. Zavian anticipates his enrollment in another Spanish elective for the school year 2022-23. Zavian’s additional honors in Spanish include one bronze and three silver medals on the National Spanish Exam.

Gerstell Academy has a long history of excellence in academics and has maintained an active chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica for 13 years. Congratulations to Zavian and his Spanish teachers, Jeffrey Taggart (2020-21) and Deborah Doyle (2021-22). 
2500 Old Westminster Pike
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