New Paltz High School Honors Bilingual Students

    Thirteen World Language students from New Paltz High School (NPHS) were honored on May 26 for their successful completion of the New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) program. The program, which recognizes high school students who have attained a high level of proficiency in English and one or more world languages, is designed to encourage the study of languages, identify high school graduates with biliteracy skills for colleges and employers, prepare students with useful skills, and affirm the value of diversity in a multicultural society. 

    The NYSSB Class of 2022 honorees include Elise Gingold, for English, Spanish, and Swedish, as well as Anna Adams, Ivelisse Cabrera, Reggie Gold, Merin Hemminger, Camden Holland-Shepler, Emily Lawrence, Sophia Luczak, Flora Pierson, Jena Russo, Brandon Sirof, Ella Urrico, and Kaitlyn Weinerman for English and Spanish. 

    To earn the NYSSB, the students have to fulfill a series of requirements in two or more languages, ranging from state exams, Advanced Placement courses, presentations in the language[s], and a culminating, ten-week project in their chosen language[s]l. NPHS has offered the NYSSB program for six consecutive years and has received the “Gold-Veteran” distinction for its participation.

    For their culminating projects, the student linguists from NPHS had to answer how they will use Spanish in the future. The students’ projects passionately and creatively explained how they plan to address various issues found within the Hispanic/Latino communities, such as creating more positive stereotyping in cinema, offering affordable access to arts education, mainstreaming the immigrant workforce, programming for underrepresented Latinos who suffer from neurological issues, and more.  

    “The culminating projects for their Seal of Biliteracy are a reflection of the students’ continued desire to understand and contribute to the community around them, specifically the Latino/Hispanic community in the United States as they learn that the majority of this community is US-born and sometimes learning about the culture is as important, if not more important, than learning the Spanish language,” said Rod Castro, a Latino Studies and World Languages educator at NPHS and the NYSSB program’s liaison. “The hope is that these projects will help the students in their field of study in college or in their post-high school careers.” 

    During a recognition ceremony honoring the NPHS students who completed the program, attendees were treated to an interactive salsa and tango lesson by Nina Jirka of Dance for All: New Paltz Dance Cooperative. Following the ceremony, an authentic Mexican dinner– specific to the Puebla region–was served in the cafeteria.  

    New Paltz Superintendent Angela Urbina-Medina said the NYSSB is an important distinction on a student’s high school diploma and reflects the District’s values. The NYSSB award measures students’ excellence and assures growth and development for the student with a learned language, which aligns with our mission as a school district,” she said. “Congratulations to all of the students who have worked so hard to earn this recognition. Their futures have no borders.”