Graduates recognized for language proficiency

More than two dozen graduating seniors from Williams Unified and Maxwell Unified school districts will have the Seal of Biliteracy emblazoned on their diplomas and transcripts when they graduate on Friday.

The Colusa County Office of Education on May 18 recognized 23 Williams and three Maxwell seniors who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.

The Seal of Biliteracy was created to recognize graduates who exhibit language proficiency in two or more world languages, Colusa County Assistant Superintendent Maria Arvizu-Espionoza said. The program also encourages Colusa County students, who were English learners when they started school, to embrace and maintain fluency in their native language.

Espinoza said the Seal of Biliteracy on a graduate’s diploma and transcripts provides a tool for colleges and universities to recognize an applicant’s language ability for admission and placement, and helps potential employers identify individuals with strong language and biliteracy skills.

“It is a symbol of accomplishment, she said.

CCOE and officials from both school districts presented certificates to Mireya Ocampo, Alma Ruiz, and Alejandra Roxanne Ruiz-Abanathie, of Maxwell, and Julie Alcaraz, Ethan Aragon, Natali Briones, Aracelui Ruvalcaba Cano, Jennifer Alanis Castillo, Marlene Estrada, Lizbeth Hernandez, Laura Herrera, Ivette Landeros, Daniela Luna, Jairely Martinez, Mariana Medina, Luz Maria J. Ocampo, Jennifer Paiz, Guadalupe Ramirez, Anna Rios, Vanessa Rodriguez, Julissa Ruiz, Viviana Tapia, Adan Tortoledo, Andres Trujillo, and Nayeli Velazquez, of Williams.

Mireya Ocampo, who will graduate Friday from Maxwell High School, hopes to study nursing at California State University, Chico. She said having the Seal of Biliteracy on her transcripts would give her an edge in getting into the nursing program.

“It’s very competitive, and being bilingual and showing you are proficient in two languages helps,” she said.

The Ocampo family is synonymous with achievement in the Maxwell community. Her two older sisters graduated from Maxwell High School, and younger twin sisters will be seniors next year.

Nayeli Velazquez, who will graduate from Williams High School, plans to complete her general education at Woodland College, before transferring to the University of California, Davis.

“I want to be a teacher, and come back to serve Colusa County,” Velazquez said. “Being an English teacher is the goal.”

Velazquez said the Seal of Biliteracy is recognition for the hard work it takes to be truly proficient in more than one language. In addition to studying English, Velazquez, who served as Associated Student Body liaison to the school board, took three years of Spanish and AP Spanish.

“Getting my diploma and having that Seal of Biliteracy on my diploma is a good milestone for me,” she said. “It’s more than recognition of myself, but of my achievements.”
Jesus Limon was the keynote speaker for the ceremony, which was held at the Education Village in Williams.

Limon was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was a child. He is an English professor at Sacramento City College and an English lecturer at California State University, Sacramento.