Nearing graduation, eight seniors honored for fluency in two languages
As Del Norte’s graduating seniors begin celebrating their accomplishments, eight received accolades from their parents and teachers Tuesday for their fluency in two languages.
Daisy Cajita, Roger Carrillo, Mitzi Garcia, Ariana Moreno, Jose Ramirez, Roberto Ramirez, Danielle Ruiz and Jonathan Valladares are the first students in Del Norte County to receive the California State Seal of Biliteracy. The seal will be emblazoned on their transcripts and high school diplomas and they’ll wear a special medal at their graduation next month.
“I’m actually feeling pretty proud of myself because I usually don’t acknowledge how bilingualism really affected my life,” Cajita said.
Having the California State Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas and transcripts indicates the students have mastered two languages, English and Spanish, said Jamie Godla, Del Norte County Unified School District’s bilingual coordinator.
“It recognizes the students that have mastered two languages,” she said. “They speak, read, write and listen in two languages and they’ve gone through a process that was established by the state of California.”
To receive the seal, each student completed an application process, which included an essay. They took an examination in Spanish, which involved reading an article and watching a video in that language and answering questions.
The students were also required to complete an interview both with their Spanish instructors at Del Norte High School and a foreign language professor at Humboldt State University. Godla said she and Luis Pelayo, who teaches fourth-grade at Smith River School, also participated in the student interviews.
“There are currently 20 states in the nation that have passed a Seal of Biliteracy and it’s become law,” Godla said. “Now it’s becoming more and more recognized by universities and for employment.”
Del Norte County Unified School District currently offers the Seal of Biliteracy only in Spanish. Officials hope to offer a seal of biliteracy to students fluent in Hmong, Tolowa and Yurok soon.
For Danielle Ruiz, who received her medal while she was on her lunch break, being recognized for her ability to speak both English and Spanish will help as she pursues a career as an interpreter. When she graduates, Ruiz plans to attend College of the Redwoods before majoring in English and Spanish at Humboldt State or Sonoma State universities.
“I feel like it’ll open a lot more doors for me,” Ruiz said of the Seal of Biliteracy. “(It shows) I can write, speak and read Spanish fluently and English too.”
Eliana Hillebrand, who taught bilingual education with the school district for 25 years, noted that theAccomplished speakers | Crescent City California News, Sports, & Weather | The Triplicate: