Fenwick’s Spanish Club helps Berwyn Police learn basic Spanish skills

Berwyn police need to communicate with the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population, so they reached out to Fenwick High School’s Spanish Club for help.

The club was contacted by Berwyn Police Sgt. Joseph Fitzgerald this past summer, according to Michelle Villegas, student president of the Spanish Club (HOLA) at Fenwick. He offered supplies such as white boards, and a promise of future donations, in exchange for creating lessons to teach the officers. The department worked with fluent Spanish-speakers of the club to come up with an agreement for the program.

Villegas said that the first step was to create five-minute-long PowerPoint lessons, each with a theme. They taught basic Spanish words and phrases that would come up in certain police scenarios, such as traffic stops.

“The program […] uses audio and visual aids as well as hands-on instruction to educate the police on easy-to-use terms in a variety of situations,” said Jeff Verver, the club’s faculty moderator.

Fitzgerald said the lessons started over the summer, during which three sessions took place. The program is a “work in progress,” and now includes one-on-one tutoring.

The idea is a win-win, as it benefits both the police force, and the students. While the police department gets to learn basic Spanish almost for free, the students fulfill service hours and practice teaching the language.

“We had a lot of fun getting the slides together as a group, and we are especially proud of our work because it is helping policemen in our area. This project fulfilled the club’s service project hours, as well as Fenwick service requirement hours. We hope to keep working with the Berwyn Police office in the new year,” Villegas said.

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