Columbia Early College High school takes first place

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Columbia Early College High School team of senior Reyna Gonzalez and junior Brandon Hinojosa won first place in the European track competition in the third annual “Learning Through Languages Symposium” held December 13 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A total of 102 students from 17 schools in 11 counties participated. Columbia was the only school represented east of Interstate 95.

Reyna and Brandon also took second place in “Best Visuals.”

In their bracket they competed with schools such as East Chapel Hill High School, which has over 1,400 students and, according to US News, ranks No. 142 in the entire United States.

“Congratulations to Reyna and Brandon, and thanks to Beatriz Calderon, CHS Spanish instructor, who mentored, encouraged, and stayed late nearly every day,” said Dr. Will Hoffman, superintendent. “Ms. Calderon estimates that both Brandon and Reyna worked over 100 hours each on the project.”

Calderon coordinated the student group, and she and Bill Ziegler took the team to Chapel Hill on December 13.

The participants, working as a team, chose from four research tracks with regional focus: Contemporary Asia, Europe, Latin America, or the Middle East and North Africa

They wrote a 3-page research paper on a topic related to the European track and also created and presented a project visual to UNC and Duke language instructors at the symposium.

The students presented their research to UNC and Duke faculty and language instructor judges in the target language, went to UNC-CH for the symposium, and networked with UNC and Duke faculty, staff, students, and other high school language learners from throughout the state.

Goals were for the students to learn basic research methodology, practice oral and written expression in a practical setting, participate in cooperative learning, use creativity and 21st-century skills, engage in global studies, and interact with UNC-CH and Duke faculty and language instructors.