Fifth-grade student finds the keys to success

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Learning English as a second language is quite a feat, especially when also trying to adjust to a new school.

It was a test that fifth-grader Carlos Garcia Hernandez passed with flying colors several years ago. His parents came to the United States from Mexico, and Spanish is the primary language spoken in the Hernandez household. When it came time for Carlos to start preschool, though, he then had to learn the language of his peers.

“They came here because they wanted to get work, and then they were planning on going back, but then my mom got pregnant, and they decided to stay,” Hernandez explained. “I didn’t understand English the first time … but then I got the hang of it.”

Now a student at John Small Elementary School, he has continued to impress his teachers with his intelligence, maturity and love for learning.

Hernandez recently won the school-wide spelling bee, as well as placing first in the district’s individual math competition and second in the team competition. He also participated in the Downeast Regional Spelling Bee held at the Turnage Theatre on March 25, and will compete in the county’s LEGO Robotics Competition this weekend.

“Besides his work ethic, he is a role model to his peers. He has his priorities straight,” Principal Kelly Makepeace said. “He is very humble, which is very admirable at this age.”

While other students may be playing outdoors, Hernandez takes a study-first mentality. He said he enjoys playing soccer and swimming, but he also likes to focus and complete his schoolwork before having fun.

According to Makepeace, Hernandez studied a lot for the school’s spelling bee.

“He reminds us that learning is fun. There’s this sense of awe and wonder. … I think Carlos gets that — that learning is fun,” Assistant Principal Andrew Ditlevson added. “Hard work can be rewarding. It’s not a bad thing at all to spend your time on academics.”

Hernandez has big dreams to be a doctor someday and is excited to start middle school next year. No matter the challenges ahead, Hernandez has the tools to overcome any that come his way. His teachers can’t stop singing his praises.

“English is our first language, and we want to give up so easily sometimes,” Makepeace said. “It’s just inspiring.”