A small group of middle school students in Ketchikan have spent more than a month learning songs in languages from all around the world. It’s not for a grade — just the experience.
Sara Orozco’s classroom at Schoenbar Middle School has been pretty loud the past five weeks.
A small group of students have elected to spend their lunch hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays learning songs in different languages. Pumping music and smatterings of German, Finnish, Korean and Polish leaked out into the hallway during one recent class this Thursday.
It’s the last day of Orozco’s five-week elective and the students were ready to show off.
One Schoenbar seventh-grader, Sarah Reynolds, now knows a whole song from the movie ‘Frozen II’ in Finnish.
“Finnish is my language from my family, so this one was close to my heart,” Reynolds told her classmates.
In English, the song is called “All is Found” and was written by Evan Rachel Wood. Reynolds sang the song for her classmates.
She says her connection to Finnish culture inspired her song choice.
“I thought it was kind of a shorter, easier lullaby song to start with, and Finnish is my ancestors’ language, and I thought it would be cool to do it in that language since I’m trying to learn it right now,” she said.
A few other students showed off their skills after Reynolds. That includes Britta Brinkerhoff.
Brinkerhoff’s song is in German, by the alternative pop band Juli. The seventh grader knows all the words to the song — which runs more than three minutes.
“It was just a really catchy song,” Brinkerhoff said. “I really liked it.”
At the end of the period, Orozco reminded the students that their learning doesn’t stop with the elective class.
“Even if you just had one line that you got down in the last five weeks, which is nothing, think of it as a starting point,” she said.
She told her class that even picking up bits and pieces of the songs is a huge accomplishment.
“The cool thing is even if you’re, like, mouthing along, that muscle memory is really good for you,” she said.
The students wrapped up their lunch period with a little bit of dancing and laughing before heading out to their next class.
Raegan Miller is a Report for America corps member for KRBD. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution at KRBD.org/donate.