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Honoring Language Learners


Paulina Martinez, RHS
Each spring, JUSD seniors who are bilingual and biliterate are recognized for their efforts with the California State Seal of Biliteracy. 

According to the California Department of Education, “the State Seal of Biliteracy is a recognition conferred by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for graduating high school students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.” These students receive a gold seal for their diploma as well as a Seal of Biliteracy medal.

This year, 163 seniors are being recognized. While the majority have gained proficiency in Spanish in addition to English, a few are being honored because of proficiency in ASL (American Sign Language) or French.

“Our students have worked hard to obtain this seal and they should be very proud of their achievement,” said Martha Gomez, Director of Language Services and Student Programs. “This seal will benefit students in the workforce as they can demonstrate that they are not only bilingual but also biliterate.”

The seniors were invited to be photographed with their medal for a celebratory video (featured above), which also honors 6th and 8th graders on the path to obtaining their Seal of Biliteracy. These 190 students are receiving a Certificate of Achievement.

Jose Camarena, PHSThough united in their accomplishment, the honored seniors had diverse reasons for pursuing language proficiency.

Many were motivated by career plans, like Laura Pena, who strove for proficiency in Spanish because she wants to become an elementary school teacher. “There’s kids who come from different backgrounds and have different languages and I want to be able to teach them in any way that I can,” shared the JVHS student.​

Jose Camarena, who plans to pursue a career in medicine, also believes his proficiency in English and Spanish will be an asset. “I know I’m going to be interacting with patients,” said the PHS student, “and having two languages is a big benefit.”

Meanwhile, Paulina Martinez hopes to apply her language skills as a crime scene investigator. “It feels really good and I’m excited that I got to accomplish this,” said the RHS student.

Valerie Moreno, JVHSOthers were motivated by family, like Valerie Moreno, who improved her Spanish to better communicate with her Spanish-speaking mother, as well as help her with her English. “She knows some English, but she’s getting better at it now that I’m able to help her with it,” shared the JVHS student. 

Similarly, Diego Albarran wanted to achieve proficiency in Spanish because of his family and their culture. “It feels great. It’s an honor,” said the PHS student.

No matter the motivation or intent, students who graduate with the Seal of Biliteracy are equipped to do great things. Superintendent Elliott Duchon, also featured in the video, remarked that being fluent in two languages “is an amazing skill to have as [students] go on to college or the working world.”

Martha Gomez added, “We are so proud to recognize all the students who understand the importance of speaking more than one language.”