WCSD students compete in Paiute Language Bowl

Published: May. 22, 2018 at 8:29 PM PDT
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It was a friendly competition. Nearly two dozen high school students showed up at the Annual Paiute Language Bowl at the University of Nevada to take part in the event that tests what they've learned in the classroom.

"North Valleys, Spanish Springs, and Reed all have Paiute language classes," says Tiffany Young, WCSD Equity and Diversity Coordinator.

Students taking the Paiute language at those schools got to display their knowledge during the competition. Tribal elders were actually some of the judges who scored the contestants on their vocabulary and speaking abilities.

"It's a live competition and it's lightning round," says Young.

This was Alyssa Rodriguez's second year competing. Her North Valleys team had won the last several years and while she knows the competition may look like all fun and games, the opportunity to learn the Paiute language is something she and her classmates take seriously.

"Paiute is a Native American language that is more specific to Reno," says Rodriguez. "And I think Paiute is a very important class to take because I think in present day society, the more we advance, the further away we get from our own culture."

"I think with any language, if you don't continue to practice and study it and learn it, it will die and go away," says Young.

But in the Washoe County School District, the Paiute language program keeps advancing.

"One of the great partnerships we have this year is with Reno Sparks Indian Colony," says Young. "We added an audio portion to the curriculum. In the past we just had booklets and now we actually have recordings of our tribal elders and so students can hear the language, as well as read the language and write the language. So we're excited because the program is evolving and growing and it's a wonderful partnership that we have."

At this year's competition, Spanish Springs High School ended taking home the trophy. They will be able to display it on campus until next year's bowl.