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HIGH LIFE: A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : A Spanish-Language Newspaper : Journalism: A teacher at Fullerton Union develops El Hispano, an insert that allows students to practice writing skills.


This year, one in four Fullerton Union High School students speak little or no English. Most of these students are unable to read Pleiades, the school newspaper.


To get around this problem, Spanish-language teacher Marcelino Castillo this year developed El Hispano, a Spanish-language insert to the school paper.

Although the articles are written by Castillo's Spanish V students as part of their grade, he is also giving lower-level students the chance to participate.

"It's a way to get students motivated in the act of writing that is involved with their culture and language," Castillo said.

El Hispano, believed to be Orange County's only Spanish-language student newspaper, covers topics and issues similar to other papers--including articles on sports and world events.

Recent features have explored teen-age alcoholism, the new monetary system in Mexico and Christmas customs in various Latin American countries. Recipes, nutrition articles and a people page also are regular features.

The paper's focus, however, is to inform students who speak limited English of school activities.

"It encourages students to participate in school activities," said Angela Holmes, a school counselor. "We should continue to provide the paper for the students who aren't able to read in English very well."

El Hispano's eight pages of news and features are produced in Castillo's classroom. The students writing the articles have two to four weeks to produce the paper.

"Like any language, the hardest part of writing in Spanish is to be coherent and to the point, as well as to be understood by the Hispanic community," Castillo said. "Some who speak the language well have trouble writing it, and students learn there's a difference."

El Hispano is inserted into the Pleiades and distributed to select classes that have a majority of Spanish-speaking students. Circulation runs between 350 and 400 copies.

"My parents, who don't speak any English, read El Hispano," said Noemi Delara, a junior at Fullerton Union. "They got the chance to know what was going on in the school. I enjoyed reading it myself."

Castillo chooses the topics for the paper and gets help in design from student Brian Singer, editor-in-chief of the Pleiades.

"He was my teacher," said Castillo, who uses his own Macintosh computer to work on the paper. He is training his writers to use Aldus PageMaker, a publishing design program, so they can learn to lay out the paper.

"I'm hoping (the school) will be able to buy one or two Macintoshes for the El Hispano newspaper," said Castillo, who brings his computer from home two or three days a week.

Lena Tieu is a junior at Fullerton Union High School, where she is a staff writer on Pleiades, the student newspaper.

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