Spanish Honor Society Binds Notebooks for a Dominican Republic School

Thomas Dragovich (left) and Valerie Brady (right) binding notebooks after school. (Photo by Yasmin Roach)

It’s 2:30, and students gather in room 310, folding paper and cutting cardboard as they assemble the notebooks they will send to low-income students in the Dominican Republic.

The bookbinding project, organized by the Spanish Honor Society, was the idea of senior Valerie Brady. The Spanish Honor Society’s sponsor, Ms. Maria Romano-Sweitzer, along with another Wilde Lake teacher, Ms. Susan Pennington, will deliver the notebooks to the Dominican Republic school in February. 

Spanish Honor Society members have been learning to bind books since November. Making these notebooks involves putting several pieces of folded paper together into “signatures” and sewing them together in between pieces of cardboard. The materials came mostly from donations by Spanish Honor Society members. 

One of the reasons few lower income students in the Dominican Republic reach the high school level, according to Ms. Sweitzer, is a lack of resources.

“A lack of [resources] shouldn’t put somebody at a disadvantage to get an education,” said senior and member of Spanish Honor Society Beruktawit Gebreamlak. “And even just having a notebook to write in, to refer to, to study, can help put the student at an equal ground with others for a better education.”

The idea of binding notebooks came from senior Valerie Brady. She says a hobby of hers inspired the project — binding fanfiction published online at home in order to avoid copyright restrictions. 

After learning about Brady’s skills, her Spanish teacher, Ms. Sweitzer, suggested turning her hobby into something global. 

“I brought one of my books to school and Ms. Sweitzer was like, ‘I have an idea,’” said Brady, who taught the group how to bind the books. “Not only is [this project] fun, I think it connects us to the world in a sense.”

Ms. Sweitzer says that “the purpose of the Spanish Honor Society is service. The idea is to be involved in something that others will benefit from.” 

Gebreamlak says she believes that volunteering benefits volunteers just as much as those they help. “Don’t wait until somebody provides you with the opportunity to help others,” she says. “Just go for it.”