Elian Ortiz on North Harford High experience, Student sheds light on experience with learning English, discrimination

Elian Ortiz(64) standing alongside teammate Shaun Anderson(55). 
He stated that he is excited to continue playing for NHHS.

Jason McCallister

Elian Ortiz(64) standing alongside teammate Shaun Anderson(55). He stated that he is excited to continue playing for NHHS.

KRIS GRAY, Co-News Editor

     “There’s a lot of people willing to teach people who don’t know English,” sophomore Elian Ortiz says. Learning English opened many doors for the student, including a warm welcome to the North Harford community.

     The Ortiz family is quite ethnic according to the student. The dad is native to Puerto Rico and

part Taino, and his mother is “from the European side” Ortiz explains. According to the Black History Month newsletter,The Taino were an Arawak people who were the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida. At the time of European contact in the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Puerto Rico.

     Since English is not the football player’s first language, he “kind of picked it up” in elementary school. As the years went on, he learned more and is ultimately “good with it now.”                   

     On the other hand, the sophomore says, “my mom doesn’t speak English very well so sometimes I have to translate stuff for her.” Because of this, Ortiz faces discrimination and bullying. North Harford is considered rural as reported by Harford County Public Schools. As of a poll from 2020, there were 1,138 white students and 32 Hispanic students at NHHS.  This is a challenge for the student because he feels “alone” when it comes to his ethnicity. “When I’m on a call with my parents, I have to speak Spanish and people make fun of me.”

     There are also perks to being a bilingual individual like Ortiz. “It opens up a lot of new cultures. You can travel places [and] it’s easier to get around and stuff,” he remarks. He continues to speak Spanish and English, along with taking French II here at North Harford High School. He says learning various languages and different dialects is “one of [his] passions.”

     One of his more humorous moments is when he “gets mad [he] speaks in Spanish.”

     Sports has also been a positive thing for the 16-year-old, as he feels “a part of the team” and like “people respect [him].”  Ortiz says he is “playing JV football right now [as] number 64 [and] starting center.” As a team captain, he feels a sense of pride toward his fellow teammates or as he calls them, “brothers.” He is proud to say, “we’re five and o right now!”

     As of now, the student’s main goal is to “pass [his] classes and be eligible for sports to try to get some offers from colleges.”