A sophomore at Faith Training Christian Academy (FTCA) in Leesville has received one of two grand prizes awarded by Louisiana College as part of the Write or Recite Contest.

Ariel Wells of DeRidder was selected for participation in the creative writing and expression contest by her Spanish teacher at FTCA, Señora Amparo Werner.

Ariel, a native English speaker, recited a Spanish poem written by Cuban National hero and poet José Martí.

Ariel was critiqued by Louisiana College Associate Professor of Spanish, Dr. Nancy Whitlock.

Whitlock commended Ariel on her elocution and gesturing. “Ariel did an outstanding job,” said Whitlock in an interview with the Leesville Daily Leader. “Not only did she have the poem memorized, she also included gestures that were appropriate to the poem.”

Whitlock presented Ariel with a $1,000 scholarship to Louisiana College and an iPad Mini during a reception hosted by the Louisiana College Humanities Department on Thursday.  

“The college’s humanities division started Write or Recite competition three years to showcase the talent we have in Louisiana in creative writing and foreign language,” said Whitlock. “We invite the kids on campus so they can get to know us a little better and experience the college.”

Ariel’s mother, Aurora Wells, who teaches second grade at FTCA, said, “Ariel is articulate and speaks English very well, so when she started learning Spanish, her ear was tuned.”

Aurora is appreciative of Señora Werner. “She goes out of her way to find opportunities for our students,” Aurora said.  “She travels to different events so students can be exposed to the world.”

When Ariel started taking Spanish class, she thought it was “pretty cool” to learn a different language. “Señora Werner is a great teacher,” she said.

At this point, Ariel wants to be a psychologist one day and thinks Spanish-speaking may come in handy if she ever has bilingual patients. “I’ve always been interested in how people think and how their emotions work,” Ariel said. “I want to hear about their lives and be able to help people.”

The Wells moved from Alaska to Leesville in 2000, where they stayed for five years. They currently live in DeRidder where they have been for five years.