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Multilingual And Civically Ready In Seaford

Pictured: Seaford High School seniors, from left, Angelina Fernandez, Alexa Villeck, Shayla Fox, Jacqueline Grimaldi, Scott Heaslip and Arianna Garcia are among 24 students earning the Seal of Biliteracy this year. 

Photo courtesy of the Seaford School District

Two dozen multilingual students from Seaford High School will graduate with the Seal of Biliteracy in June, in recognition of their hard work in world language classes. Several of those scholars are also graduating with the Seal of Civic Readiness, a new diploma designation being offered this year.

Spanish teacher Patricia Foley said the 24 seniors earning the Seal of Biliteracy is the largest number in three years. One likely reason for the increase, she explained, is that students in Advanced Placement French and Spanish classes could do their culture comparison projects for their midterms.

In addition to grade point average requirements in their English and world language classes, students must complete a culture comparisons research project. The presentation to a panel of educators is done in the world language they are studying.

Ms. Foley said that the culture comparison research often relates to historical or current event topics, allowing students to make modifications to their projects to also earn the Seal of Civic Readiness. New York State allows schools to offer the Seal of Civic Readiness as a formal recognition that a student has attained a high level of proficiency in terms of civic knowledge, civic skills, civic mindset and civic experiences.

“There was a great variety of topics, very deep topics,” Ms. Foley said. “This group of seniors have a good understanding of the world challenges that exist today. These are not easy topics to talk about in English, let alone a second language.”

Jacqueline Grimaldi, who is earning the Seal of Biliteracy in French, studied air pollution in France and the United States, while Shayla Fox compared traffic safety between the two countries. Scott Heaslip, who has taken Spanish since middle school, used the culture comparisons project to explore his own family’s heritage, as his ancestors hail from Cuba. Arianna Garcia, whose dad is from Uruguay, explored the role of soccer in society there and in the United States.

Students said that earning the Seal of Biliteracy is the culmination of many years of commitment and dedication to a language.

“I worked hard learning French from seventh grade to 12th grade,” Jacqueline said.

“It’s such a select amount of people that follow through and get the Seal of Biliteracy,” added Shayla, who hopes to study abroad in college.

Angelina Fernandez, who studied Spanish, said she has been striving for the Seal of Biliteracy since the end of her freshmen year, when Seaford added it as a diploma designation. Students who earned it the past two years served as her inspiration, she noted, and she believes her strong knowledge of a second language will benefit her in college and in a career.

“It would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t go for it,” added Alexa Villeck, who studied Spanish. “I worked so hard and it’s a nice accolade to have leaving high school.”

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