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Volunteers spearhead Spanish translation of student handbook

The volunteer group Conexiones had the Morris Area Schools student handbook translated into Spanish. Group members are shown with elementary principal Shane Monson, center. From left, Katie Boyle, Stephanie Cid, Nicolas Guerrero, Shane Monson, Chris Staebler, Martha Reyes and Vanessa Hernandez. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times

The student handbook at Morris Area Schools will be in English and Spanish for the 2018-2019 school year.

The non-profit organization, Conexiones, has paid for the translation of the handbooks into Spanish to help parents and students make the transition from their home Spanish-speaking countries to the local school system, members said.

Morris Area Elementary School principal Shane Monson said the district is thankful to receive the translated handbooks.

One of his philosophies is: "Equity and equal access for all," Monson said. It can be difficult for families and students whose first language is Spanish to understand district policies and programs when they must read them in English, Monson and Conexiones members said.

The Spanish-speaking population is growing in the county and the district needs to respond to that growth, Monson said. But, the district has an obligation to provide the best access possible even if the district had one family with Spanish as its first language, Monson said.

Nicolas Guerrero has lived in the area for 15 years. He understands the difficulties making the transition from a home country such as Mexico to the region. Conexions was formed to give back to the community, he said.

Translating the handbook into Spanish is one way to help families and students, Guerroro said.

"The school system is different in Mexico compared to here," Conexiones member Stephanie Cid said. Parents need to understand the policies such as available bus service, lunch service and others, Cid said.

Guerrero said Conexiones received donations to hire a certified local translator to translate the handbook.

Monson said translating a handbook is expensive because policies include legal terms that must be translated correctly.

Conexiones member Katie Boyer said the organization received its non-profit status in December. "We are just starting out and we want to do more," she said.