Profiles: National Merit semifinalist helps teens in Spain learn English


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Bearden senior Michelle Lames spent time in the Pyrenees this summer teaching other teenagers Spanish.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series of profiles on Bearden’s National Merit semifinalists from the class of 2014. Alison Jobe, Abby Lowe, Michelle Lames, and Vishaka Motheramgari have gone to school together since middle school, and now all four are National Merit semifinalists.

Senior and National Merit semifinalist Michelle Lames traveled to Spain for two weeks this summer in order to help teenagers improve their English.

Most of the teens she worked with had a basic understanding of English as well as a limited vocabulary. She helped them to expand their knowledge of the language and ability to speak the language with more ease.

The first stop on her journey was Madrid where she congregated with hundreds of other people volunteering with the program. The next day they separated into the camps they were assigned. Lames was stationed at a small camp in the Pyrenees staffed with 19 native English speakers. The English mentors were from all over the world, including North America, Ireland, Scotland, England, and even a few from Spain.

Lames’s job was to help the students expand their knowledge of English. One-on-one conversation was the most efficient way for these students to learn.

“We’d get paired up with one Spaniard, and you just talk about whatever, which helps them just let loose and then we’d do a bunch of fun activities to promote communication,” Lames said.

Lames trip benefited her in a positive way and left her with lasting memories.

“I met so many people from all over the world that I still keep in contact with,” Lames said. “It was a very nice trip.”

Lames is one of the four National Merit semifinalists for this year. Her strong work ethic and desire to be the best she can be has pushed her to achieve the honor.

“I’ve always worked and studied hard, so to see all that finally pay off is great,” Lames said.

On top of her strong intellect and desire to help others, Lames is also a great friend.

“Michelle and I are basically best friends,” senior Bridget Reymond said. “We’ve been friends since freshman year, and she’s just so funny and friendly and just loves to joke around with just about anyone.”

Throughout her time at Bearden, Lames has developed a close relationship with chemistry teacher Mrs. Julie Smalling.

“Michelle is an awesome student with impeccable work ethic,” Smalling said. “You don’t realize how good she is until you see the product later; it’s amazing.”

Lames’s reserved personality often hides the fact that she is incredibly intelligent. Though people are drawn to her welcoming personality, most don’t notice her more outgoing side because of this.

“She’s very shy and quiet,” Smalling said. “One on one, she’ll talk, but when she’s in a group, you don’t realize she’s as bright as she is because she’s so quiet.”