Napa Valley Register, April 27, 2014
Students in Napa, AmCan earn biliteracy seal on diplomas
SPANISH IS THE SECOND LANGUAGE OF CHOICE
A group of 102 students from Vintage, Napa and American Canyon high schools will be earning the state “Seal of Biliteracy” this year. Last year, when the seal was first introduced, 45 students earned the award.
The seal is awarded to high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.
Napa High School student Emma Scudero will be earning the seal this year for her proficiency in Spanish. As a young child, Scudero also attended Napa Valley Language Academy, a dual-immersion Spanish and English elementary school.
For Scudero, knowing Spanish has already come in handy. When she worked at Compadres Rio Grille, she frequently used her second language skills to communicate with customers and coworkers.
“I definitely want to keep using it for my career,” Scudero said.
Student Miles McArdle, also from Napa High, has earned the seal for his proficiency in French. McArdle said he was inspired to take French after hearing about his parents’ trips to Europe.
“They told me if I became fluent they’d take me to Paris — but they’re not going to do it!” McArdle said.
While he may not be going to Paris with his parents, McArdle said he hopes to take his own trip to Europe after college.
Of the 102 students who earned the seal this year, 88 earned it for Spanish, 10 for French and four for German. Forty-seven of the students were from Napa High School, 41 were from Vintage and 14 were from American Canyon, said Ivan Chaidez, the district’s director of English language learner and alternative education services.
The Napa Valley Unified School District’s goal was for 100 students to earn the seal during the 2013-14 school year.
“We are pleased to have reached our goal, and we are very proud of our graduating students for their accomplishment in earning the recognition of attaining proficiency in two or more languages,” Chaidez said.
The goal for next year, he said, is to have 150 students earn the award.
Fluency in two or more languages is “essential” for future business leaders and workers to grow California’s economy, Chaidez said.
The state’s Seal of Biliteracy Program was established by Assembly Bill 815. School districts have the option to adopt the seal — it is not mandated by the state, Chaidez said. Napa Valley Unified’s board of trustees voted to adopt the seal in 2012.
The gold, embossed seal is affixed to student diplomas, and the award also is noted in their transcripts. The seal is meant to inform future employers and college admissions staff of a student’s accomplishment in achieving bilingualism.
Approximately 130 students in the Napa school district applied for the seal this year, but not all of them met the required criteria, Chaidez said.
Students may qualify for the seal by demonstrating a high level of proficiency in any language in addition to English — including American Sign Language.
Other required criteria include passing four years of English classes with a GPA of 2.0 or above, passing a district writing assessment and meeting all other requirements for receiving a high school diploma.