Fort Calhoun High School (FCHS) senior Sadie Finch was selected as one of 35 Nebraska students as a state World Language Week Distinguished Scholar on April 4.
The scholar program is through the Nebraska Department of Education and recognizes students for leadership in language learning, commitment to language study, appreciation for cultural diversity and communicative competence.
"When I got it I was so excited, I had been checking my email the whole day," said Finch, who is president of the Spanish club. "Then I got it and said to my teacher, 'Can I go to Ms. Saalfeld's room?' I walked so quick down the hall."
FCHS Spanish teacher Anita Saalfeld said she too had been checking her email all day. Saalfeld nominated Finch for the program's recognition. She was quick to say that the credit goes entirely to Finch.
"This is all Sadie," Saalfeld said. "This is my second year teaching high school and the 3-4 class is not (developed) where I want it to be … Right now, this is Sadie going out saying, 'I want to learn Spanish,' and pestering people to speak to her in Spanish outside of class. She's going above and beyond and showing she really wants to learn."
Finch received a paper certificate recognizing the language competency she displayed in two essays — one in English, one in Spanish — and a two-minute video speaking Spanish.
"I filmed myself just in case I had to go over it multiple times," Finch said. "It was a painless process, but it was cool to go trough to test my limits in Spanish and see what I could do with language."
Finch said she's interested in language in general. She had taken a year of French before coming to FCHS, and switched to Spanish as it was the school's foreign language offering.
"Then it was a thing to impress my dad because he speaks Spanish," she said. "It became something I really wanted to get into … We're a very small school, but you can still see the diversity of the world and get to know Spanish, Latina culture through Spanish and participating in Spanish club."
Finch plans to attend school at BYU Idaho, which Saalfeld said has one of the best language learning programs in the country.
"I think I want to do something with international business," Finch said. "Language learning for that would be helpful."