Renowned author part of PHS honor society induction
Renowned author part of PHS honor society induction
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A renowned poet and reading advocate was the special guest as 31 students at Pattonville High School were inducted into the school's first chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (Spanish National Honor Society).

Gary Soto, award-winning author of 11 poetry collections for adults, was part of the induction ceremony. Students also had the unique opportunity to interact with Soto during a breakfast seminar the following morning. Educators invited Soto to participate because they have named their new chapter after Soto, and students in Pattonville's advanced Spanish classes study his work. The new chapter has been dubbed "Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (Spanish National Honor Society) Gary Soto Chapter."

Ashley Mierkowski, who was inducted into the honor society, explained why the group chose Soto.

"We were looking for an author who portrayed messages in a way that we could connect.  We have read many of Gary Soto’s stories and poems in our Spanish 4 and 5 classes. His portrayal of young adults, much of the time in high school, is what captured our attention the most," she said. "He is also a large advocate for reading, which is a major part of our curriculum in our Spanish 3, 4, and 5 classes." 

After the induction ceremony, Soto told Pattonville teachers the event "was special. It was super rewarding. The kids were sweet beyond words."

The Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica is an honor society sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese for high-achieving high school students enrolled in Spanish and Portuguese language classes. The Pattonville chapter is sponsored by three teachers in Pattonville's modern languages program - Dr. Silvia Hilker, Maxine Gyles-Allen and Anna Coreggia.

The following students were inducted into Pattonville's chapter of the honor society: Natalie Beck, Jaedyn Bonner, Elena Bray, Brian Clark, Diante Coleman, Samuel Decker, Kristen Dehner, Brian DeNatale, Mindy Fitterling, Danyale Fleming, Kevin Gomez, Kristen Hanna, Michael Holm, Kelly Hurlbut, Ryan Hulsey, Brittany Kolve, Daniel Kranz, Bryan Lopez, Alex Maierhoffer, Alyssa Mars, Sarah Marx, Ashley Mierkowski, Marc Prather, Kelly Ratanasitee, Bradley Ridings, James Robb, Ana Solorio, Kailey Utley, Joe Wingerter, Kaifwafi Youssef, and Anayeli Zamacona.

Gary Soto's book, New and Selected Poems, was a finalist in 1995 for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His poems appear in many literary magazines and have earned the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award. He received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and earned a 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Film Excellence for a film he produced titled, "The Pool Party.” He was featured as NBC's Person-of-the-Week in 1997 because of his advocacy for reading. He has also received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes.


Above, Author Gary Soto, center, speaks with students during the Pattonville High School inaugural induction ceremony for the Spanish National Honor Society. Below, students participate in an induction ceremony for Pattonville's Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (Spanish National Honor Society).