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High schoolers get prestigious Oregon biliteracy seal indicating mastry in writing, reading, speaking

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT  - Kimberly Bracamontes is one of nine students in the Gresham-Barlow School District to earn a biliteracy seal from the state of Oregon.

Nine Gresham-Barlow 2020 graduates earned the Oregon State Seal of Biliteracy, which is awarded to students who have shown a high level of proficiency in two or more languages.

"I think one of the most important reasons to learn, correctly learn, different languages is to be able to unite others," Kimberly Bracamontes from Gresham High School, said in a statement.

The students earning the seal said being fluent in more than one language would help the community and their own future job prospects.

These nine were among 407 students in three school districts in Multnomah County that earned the seal this spring. The state's largest district, Portland Public Schools, had 379 students earn the seal and Reynolds School District had 19 students earn the seal.

In order to reach the achievement, a student must meet all regular graduation requirements, pass skills tests in reading and writing in English and prove a high level of proficiency in another language.

Many more students are bilingual, but to be biliterate and earn the seal they must be proficient in reading and writing in another language, not just speaking it.

The Gresham-Barlow School District said it was "excited to recognize the great asset that these students' linguistic skills represent for themselves and the community. The students' ability to fully communicate in at least two languages truly puts them well on their way to becoming culturally responsive graduates who will thrive in an ever-changing global community."

Gresham-Barlow's students were all Spanish and English seals.

Portland students represented 10 languages learned from native speakers of 15 languages. Reynolds had native speakers of four languages earn seals in three languages.

The Gresham High School students earning this distinction are: Kimberly Bracamontes, Lizbeth Delgado, Luis Horacio Hernandez-Garrido, Anahy Morales Morales, Stefany Damaris Quintanilla Aguilar, Andrea Amador Serrano and Michelle Christine Lua-Hernandez.

Barlow High School students achieving this honor are Melissa Garcia-Angulo and David Garcia-Mata.

The Biliteracy Seal was established in the 2014-15 school year as a pilot program with eight districts. School districts must apply for approval to participate, and by 2019, 50 districts were participating statewide.

Gresham High's Andrea Amador Serrano said, "Being bilingual gives me the opportunity of opening up to new and different cultures. I learn from people and places and I love it."

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