LOOKS BRIGHT : Alexis connects with Spanish speakers

Published 11:45 pm Friday, October 10, 2014

By Monique Roth

Imagine moving to a country and not speaking the native language. Now imagine yourself being a child in that situation and having to be in elementary school in that new country.

That exact, daunting task is one faced by many students in the St. John the Baptist Parish Schools, but, luckily for two of them, there is Alexis Rasberry.

Thirteen-year-old Alexis, an eighth grader at East St. John Middle School, helps two Spanish-speaking students in her class by reading tests to the students and helping with math procedures during her free time.

A few years ago Alexis moved to Louisiana from California, where she said she was surrounded by her dad’s family.

“The whole side of my dad’s family is Mexican,” Alexis said, adding she grew up learning to speak Spanish and English.

Alexis, who is involved in the 4-H club, choir and student council at ESJE, said “it feels nice” to help the two students in her class everyday.

“If I was in their shoes, I would hope someone would help me,” Alexis said. “It feels nice because I love speaking Spanish.”

Alexis said she spends some of her P.E. or recess time everyday helping the two students navigate through their schoolwork.

Jennifer Russell, the school counselor at ESJE, said it isn’t uncommon for the school district to enroll students who aren’t fluent, or familiar at all, with English.

For those students, the transition into an American school can be daunting, educationally and socially, Russell said.

“(Alexis) wants to help everybody,” Russell said.

“I could see her one day in a helping profession, like a teacher or a nurse.”

Alexis said she loves to write books and listen to music in her spare time, and one day she hopes to use her Spanish language skills in her profession.

“I like the traditions,” Alexis said of the Mexican culture, adding she enjoys the tight family bonds, food and parties her dad’s family lavishly celebrates.

“For Cinco de Mayo we would throw a big party and all his family would come, even from Mexico,” Alexis said.

Now that she lives in Louisiana, she said she spends time every summer in California to visit the Spanish side of her family.

Alexis said she thinks it’s important to help people anyway you can, whenever you can, because you would want someone to do it for you.

“There’s a constant positive aurora that comes from her,” Russell said of Alexis, adding how refreshing it is to experience an attitude like the one Alexis has in such a negative world.