Former HNHS teacher starts IU Honors Program in Foreign Languages scholarship

Former HNHS teacher starts IU Honors Program in Foreign Languages scholarship
Posted on 06/22/2021
2020 Huntington North graduate Claire Ludlow smiles with her host family in ChileEver since 2004, Huntington North High School foreign language students have enjoyed the opportunity to study abroad and hone their foreign language skills through Indiana University’s Honors Program in Foreign Languages. Former Huntington North Spanish teacher Dede Rippetoe-Reed recognizes the value of the opportunity and has started a scholarship to ensure Huntington North students can take advantage of the IU Honors Program in Foreign Languages moving forward.

“My life was and continues to be enriched by mastery of a foreign language,” Rippetoe-Reed said. “I matured and gained confidence through study abroad. I have had numerous experiences from employment to volunteer work as well as lifelong friendships all based on my ability to communicate, adapt and appreciate other cultures. I hope to help to make it possible for a HNHS student to do the same.”

The program offers students the opportunity to spend five or six weeks in their respective host countries during the summer after their sophomore, junior or senior year of high school. The program is built on IU’s Four Pillar structure, which focuses on students receiving intensive academic instruction, committing to speak only the target language while abroad, participate in community engagaement activities and experience full-time integration into a fost family. These four components help students participate in a total immersion experience.

Rippetoe-Reed, who taught at Huntington North from 1983-1996, has pledged a total of $10,000 to begin a scholarship for students participating in the program. Her commitment is for two Huntington North students to receive $2,500 scholarships in each of the next two school years. Should those two years go as expected, Rippetoe-Reed hopes to endow the scholarship in order to have it continue indefinitely. The scholarship is intended for students in Huntington North’s Spanish classes, but is open to students studying other languages should there be no applicants from the Spanish classes.

Despite being away from Huntington North for the last 15 years, the school holds a special place in Rippetoe-Reed’s heart, which made her decision to start the scholarship an easy one.

“Mr. Bob Straight believed in me and gave me my first job,” Rippetoe-Reed said. “During my years teaching at HNHS, I got to know many students and learn about their lives. I led school trips to Mexico and participated as a chaperone on the German exchange program. It was so exciting for me to be with the students as they made the same discoveries about themselves, language learning and cultural appreciation as I once did. Even the students who did not travel were very important to me. Many would come to my classroom after lunch to chat each day. I remember so many enjoyable classroom times as students performed skits, sampled a new foreign food and engaged in cultural discussions.”

Additionally, Rippetoe-Reed knows that sometimes funding is what determines whether or not a student can participate in an international experience, as she dealt with that firsthand as a high school student.

“My parents didn’t save for my college, let alone foreign travel,” Rippetoe-Reed said. “I came from a family that was unemployed most of my high school and college years. I had no medical insurance. When my wisdom teeth came in and were impacted, I worked out a deal with the oral surgeon to tutor his daughter and get her to pass Spanish I and Spanish II because I was in pain and didn’t have $500 for the surgery. I got a job at Arby’s and worked as much as I could and still kept my grades up in order to save for a summer study program in Mexico. This trip paid off, because after that, my abilities were such that I tested out of 12 hours of college Spanish and was able to graduate a semester early and get a professional job. I hope that with my financial help and some hard work on the student’s part, a trip like this will be possible for a HNHS student.”

Huntington North’s most recent students to participate in the program were Claire Ludlow and Caleb Peare, who traveled to Chile and Spain, respectively, in 2019. Ludlow and Peare both went on to earn the Indiana Certificate of Multilingual Proficiency before graduating from Huntington North in 2020.

The program took a two-year hiatus in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is expected to continue in the summer of 2022.
2020 Huntington North graduate Claire Ludlow smiles with her host family in Chile
2020 Huntington North graduate Claire Ludlow smiles with her host family in Chile
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