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Multilingual Massapequa Students To Earn Seal Of Biliteracy

Pictured: Massapequa High School seniors Cristian Rivera and Juliana Koubek are two of 46 students who will graduate with the Seal of Biliteracy this year.

Photo courtesy of the Massapequa School District

After six years of studying world languages, 46 Massapequa High School seniors will earn the Seal of Biliteracy when they graduate in June. This is the fourth year that the school has offered the prestigious designation for students who have demonstrated a strong knowledge of at least two languages.

William Anderson, curriculum associate for world languages and ENL, explained that the Seal of Biliteracy shows mastery of English and at least one other language. Massapequa offers American Sign Language, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, but students could also pursue it in another language they’ve learned independently. This year’s Seal of Biliteracy candidates include students who have mastered Greek and Polish.

“I enjoy exploring foreign cultures, especially ones that are much further away from the United States,” said Cristian Rivera, who is earning the Seal of Biliteracy in English and Spanish.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” added senior Juliana Koubek, who also has taken Spanish as her world language since seventh grade.

Students have to complete a research project and make a presentation, in their respective world language, to a panel of educators. Cristian studied the history and impact of architecture in the United States and Spain, analyzing three buildings from each country. He looked at the Empire State Building, a castle in Arizona with a gothic Spanish revival inspiration and Union Station in California. From Spain, he studied La Sagrada Familia, the University of Salamanca and Plaza de España.

Juliana used a trip to the Galápagos Islands as inspiration for her project. Her environmental-themed project focused on the effects of climate change on endangered species in the Galápagos Islands and on Long Island.

Students can pick topics based on their own personal interests, and must make comparisons between the United States and a country where their world language is spoken. Juliana said with a freedom of topic choice, her creativity and passion shined through in the final product.

Cristian and Juliana said that having the Seal of Biliteracy will benefit them throughout their lives as they meet and interact with people from many different backgrounds. For Cristian, he said that earning the distinction shows the strength of the connections he made to Spanish language and culture over the past six years. In college, he is considering learning a third language.

Juliana said that Spanish class has always been a highlight of her school day and she hopes to minor in the language in college.

“I would recommend pursuing the Seal of Biliteracy,” she said. “It was meaningful and informative, and it’s definitely going to help me moving forward.”

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