There are a mix of communities at Leesville: the athletes, the theater kids, the artists, the ESL students and the AP scholars, to name a few. Each community is unique from the others, but each contributes to making Leesville itself a well rounded yet specialized school.
But what makes the ESL community different from all other groups at Leesville and how do the students interact with each other?
The ESL classroom is a more heterogeneous class than one may think, with various countries and languages filling the room. In fact, the ESL classroom contains students from South America, Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. There are 63 students at Leesville who are considered to have Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and of those, 42 are enrolled in the ESL program with teacher Ms. Anastasia George.
The range of cultures found in the ESL classroom does not deter the students from feeling comfortable around each other. The room is, to a certain extent, a safe place for the students, where they can survive and thrive amid a larger community.
“One of the things about the ESL classroom is that it is one of the very few places that [the students] get to be themselves and where they get to feel comfortable speaking their language or speaking English,” said George.
Many students echoed George’s opinion. Andrea Flores, a sophomore, said that the transition to Leesville was hard. It is completely understandable, of course–transferring to a new school would be hard on anyone, but adjusting to a new culture and a new language seems somewhat impossible. Yet Flores has used the ESL community as a source of support and guidance to make friends and lasting relationships.
“At first, I didn’t like it. I missed my family and friends, but once I learned English I became more comfortable and made some good friends. Some of my best friends are here,” said Flores.
There is also a strong sense of camaraderie found within the ESL room. Students help each other understand work from other classes and survive in an otherwise overwhelming environment.
“I have a Belarusian, Peruvian, and an Iraqi student who are taking civics and economics together, so they all end up working together. There is definitely a sense of community,” said George.
While there are various cultures in the ESL classroom, there is also a drive towards a common goal–learning english and adjusting to a new culture. The ESl community becomes a secure environment for its students to not only achieve its common goal, but also form meaningful friendships and thrive at Leesville.