There is always so much to celebrate during the holiday season and for the Rialto Unified School District that includes the success of more than 240 students, across elementary, middle, and high school levels, who recently reclassified as English Learners.
Those students moved from English Learner status to Fluent English Proficient. They achieved the reclassification by meeting requirements that include testing and in-person assessment.
Students were celebrated with pride for their achievement at reclassification ceremonies across the District recently.
“We are so proud of the 247 English Learners that have met the rigorous requirements to reclassify,” Dr. Marina Madrid, RUSD Agent of Multilingual Programs, stated. “This represents a milestone in their academic journey as they have now joined one of the highest-performing student groups in Rialto. We wish them the best in their academic and personal success!”
At a reclassification ceremony at Eisenhower High School, Catherine Vega, Eisenhower HS Emerging Linguist Specialist, shared the Spanish phrase “Ese es mijo/a” with the students. The phrase translates in English to “Oh, that’s my kid.”
“We use that phrase as a source of pride,” Vega said. “Latino parents use it to show pride in their children. Having these two languages allows us to interpret the phrase differently. I use the phrase to show my pride in the students. Although they are not my biological child, they are my students. They made us very proud and every adult on campus feels very proud of them.”
English Learners are students who have a language other than English identified on the Home Language Survey. From there, English Learner students and their teachers are provided resources to help them advance, Vega said.
Vega said she could see the joy and sense of achievement the students experienced during the ceremony.
“The ceremony was really nice,” Vega said. “It was small. It was intimate. We wanted to make sure these students are recognized. We want to promote these students. Although they have that language challenge they can still excel and be successful. As educators, we are here to make sure they are successful.”
Jehue Middle School Assistant Principal, Angel Arratia, who was also an English Learner as a student, shared some words of inspiration at the Jaguars’ reclassification celebration.
“I came here at the age of 6 and also understand and know the struggle and amount of effort we have to put in to learn a new language,” Arratia said, addressing the 23 Jehue MS students who reclassified. “The sky is limitless for you. You have to keep pushing forward and striving forward to accomplish your dreams.”
The ceremonies served as a way to not just celebrate the student’s achievement but also language and culture as a whole. As the students have become proficient in English, Vega stressed the importance of maintaining their first language as well, something that will give the students the opportunity to qualify for the State Seal of Biliteracy as they graduate.
“That’s one of our goals: Make sure the students maintain both languages,” Vega said. “Speaking two languages gives you two perspectives of life. Each language gives you a window into a different culture. We tell the students not to lose the first one because it’s going to help them.”