From Spanish-immersion to FHC, freshman Cayden McNamara is finding his place


Jessie Warren

Cayden posing in front of The Great Gatsby mural in the freshman hallway.

For as long as freshman Cayden McNamara can remember, his world has been tinted in the technicolor pursuit of learning the Spanish language. 

From the time that he started school, Cayden attended a Spanish-immersion academy, and in this intense but rewarding environment, he found what would one day become his greatest passion. Not only that, but he also learned innumerable beneficial lessons—both literal and figurative.

However, there is one that sticks out with the most clarity. Spanish is a sector of his education that he can not only succeed in but a place where creative liberty and escapism have created a home for him. 

“When you’re in Spanish immersion, you have to [take a fluency test],” Cayden explained. “It’s kind of like a MAP test, so we do MAP, but at the same time, we also do a Spanish assessment. It tests us on our reading, our writing, and our speaking. I was an advanced intermediate speaker, which means that I’m fluent, and I could hold a conversation with a new speaker, but you could obviously tell that I wasn’t a native speaker.”

With plans to continue this journey, Cayden hoped, and still hopes, to one day reach complete fluency and continue harboring his long-standing love for the language. 

However, his transfer to FHC was one that brought about new challenges. Still, he looks at this as more of a next step. Spanish has yet to altogether leave his life, and with the knowledge that he obtained in his expansive discipline, he has found his way into Spanish 3 after only a few months of walking these halls. 

I’m a very sociable person; I don’t like being alone.

— Cayden McNamara

Furthermore, this course is already providing him with the opportunities that his early education likewise offered. 

“I believe I’m going to the Dominican Republic this summer for a class trip for my level three Spanish class,” Cayden said. “If I do go, then I’ll be able to use my Spanish skills and kind of test out the waters a little bit.”

Both at FHC and within his previous school, Cayden has discovered innumerable ways to carve out a place for himself—a task often far easier said than done. Moreover, he attributes much of this to the freedom found within defining one’s interests and setting out to succeed. 

Considering himself a charismatic and overall extroverted individual, Cayden’s ambitions in Spanish have allowed him to not only get ahead, but to find the time to partake in other activities he adores, one of which is spending time with his friends.  

“When you grow up [learning] a language and you’re [immersed] in that language, you can definitely get ahead in certain classes,” Cayden said. “In sixth grade and fifth grade, I definitely had a lot more free time to do stuff. It’s not that I did a lot of extracurriculars, but I hung out with a lot more friends, and I kind of got accustomed to that.”

While Cayden isn’t one for larger, convoluted friend groups, his social circle is a factor of his life that he holds very dear. Within his close-knit group of friends, he has been able to plant seeds within his new, foreign environment.

And, each and every day, new roots begin to form, tying him closer and closer together with FHC. 

“I’d say I don’t have any hobbies, but I make time to go hang out with my friends and do things with them,” said Cayden, who has already formed multiple devoted bonds within the range of classes on his docket. “I’m a very sociable person; I don’t like being alone.”

Whether it be within a specific course or a passionate pursuit, Cayden both recognizes and utilizes his voice to help find his place in this world. As he looks forward to the future of his high school career, he has only two wishes: that the friendships he has now will continue to grow alongside him, and that Spanish will continue to be as pivotal to him as it always has been. 

“Another language is always a good thing to have, and [it’s also helpful] that it’s easy because I grew up doing it,” Cayden said. “When it’s so easy, why not continue so that you can keep it somewhere in the back of your mind for once you get older?”