BG Spanish students immersed in Cuban culture

Photograph of old cars in Cuba taken by BGHS student Maddie Smotherman.


BG Independent News


After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., trips abroad by Bowling Green City School students were halted. Concerns about student safety took priority over the desire to let youth experience the world outside U.S. borders.

But last month, a group of Bowling Green students not only traveled overseas, they went to a nation that had long been off-limits to many Americans.

Spanish students traveled to Cuba for a week of learning the nation’s culture, food, music, history, lifestyle – and an opportunity to use their Spanish speaking skills.

“None of us are going to forget” the week-long trip, Spanish teacher Dallas Black told the Bowling Green Board of Education on Tuesday evening.

English teacher Tom Ross, who also traveled with the group, encouraged the school board to allow more student travel overseas.

“I want this to be a stepping off point,” after a long dry-spell of international travel, Ross said. “Let’s get traveling again with our classes and our students.”

Three students – Griffin Black, Elle Ross and Maddie Smotherman – who went on the Cuba trip presented photos and observations from their travels. The students talked about traditional Cuban food, art, extreme poverty, monuments to revolutionaries, the beach, a cathedral, the University of Havana, the Bay of Pigs museum, and a botanical garden.

Photo of Revolutionary Square in Havana, taken by Maddie Smotherman

“What an incredible opportunity it was for us to see all this,” Smotherman said. “Cuba was amazing. I couldn’t have picked a better country to visit.”

And the timing was perfect, Black and Ross said.

Cuba is “on the cusp of change,” Ross said.

“It’s in the state of transition,” Black said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board accepted bids for renovation of the high school locker room and for resurfacing of the school track. Both projects came in below estimates. The locker room bid of $347,900 was accepted from Spieker Co., Perrysburg. The track bid of $42,000 was accepted from All American Track, Amherst, Ohio.

Dawn Dazell, the district’s human resources administrator, said progress is being made in filling the school system’s 11 job openings for next year. The district again held its own job fair, earlier than most job fairs, in order to get first pick of job candidates. A total of 72 applicants were interviewed, Dazell said.

One of the positions that needs to be filled is that of food services director. New requirements set by the state are making it very difficult for applicants to qualify. The district is trying to get clarification on the requirements, Superintendent Francis Scruci said.

“It looked good on paper, I’m sure,” but it’s just not practical, Scruci said.

In other business, the school board:

  • Was reminded of the school district’s income tax renewal on the May 2 ballot. “I want to stress that it’s not new taxes. It’s simply a renewal,” Scruci said.
  • Heard from Toby Snow and Jim Elliott about the success hiring several bus driving substitutes. Elliott described the training required.
  • Approved student trip request for DECA students to attend an international conference in Anaheim, California. The costs will be paid by Penta Career Center and student contributions.
  • Approved student travel in 2018 for high school choral students to New York City. The costs will be paid through a combination of BG Community Foundation funds, fundraisers, student payments and the choir activity account.
  • Met Ohio Art Education Association winners for Youth Art Month and Young People’s Art Exhibits. Winning were Crim students Valentina Mata, Caleb Baldridge, Isa Wan and Cyrus Higham.
  • Hired two new teachers, Maggie Green for fourth grade, and Dylan Stark for middle school art.
  • Was reminded that graduation is May 21 at 2 p.m.
  • Went into executive session to discuss negotiations. No action was taken afterward.