Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 1:21 am | Fair 55º


Santa Maria District Seniors Earn ‘Seals of Biliteracy’ for Mastery of Two Languages

Extra studying spent mastering two languages will translate into better opportunities for more than 100 Santa Maria Joint Union High School District students.

During graduations this week, the Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley and Ernest Righetti high school students will receive a special Seal of Biliteracy Recognition Award on their diplomas.

The teenagers earned the honors by completing four years of high school languages with a 3.0 GPA, passing a foreign language Advanced Placement exam or scoring 600 or more on a SAT II test.

The language skills will give the students an advantage, according to Peter Haws, SMJUHSD director of English Learner/Migrant Education Programs.

“Fluency skills in multiple languages opens up many doors and new opportunities for our students,’’ Haws said. “They are able to connect with more people, cultures and have an edge when it comes to future employment.’‘

This year, the district has 111 students receiving the honors for demonstrating proficiency in English and one other language. Last year, 84 qualified for the awards. The district offers French and Spanish.

Eleventh-grade SMHS student Uriel Morales believes being fluent in “two traditions” will provide more opportunities.

“I took the advanced level Spanish courses to regain the knowledge that I had of the Spanish language when I was younger,’’ said Morales, who plans to enroll in AP Spanish literature next year.

SMJUHSD Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson praised the students for making the most of their high school educations.

The district’s Seal of Biliteracy Program was also honored last February in Long Beach with a Certificate of Recognition at the California Association for Bilingual Education Conference. SMJUHSD was the first district in Santa Barbara County to offer the award to qualifying students.

— Kenny Klein represents the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

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