Students from all four schools in the Menlo Park City School District gathered Tuesday night in Atherton to celebrate attaining proficiency in the English language.
Diana Torres, English language educator at Encinal School, announced that 17 students are now fluent in English.
“Some now speak three or four languages,” Torres said, as she presented the students to the Board of Education Trustees and a room full of parents and teachers.
This is the first time that English language learners were honored in this way, said Cheryl Marelich, English language teacher at Oak Knoll School.
“They worked so hard to learn the English language, while keeping up with the other students,” Marelich said, applauding their efforts.
One by one, each child’s named was called. Some were reluctant to step forward and invite scrutiny upon themselves, bashfully emerging from the group of students to stand in front of the more than 75 people in the room.
On the sidelines, Blanca Salamanca, mother of 11-year-old Matthew Opeza, told Patch in Spanish, “I’m so happy for him. Before this, he didn’t speak any English.” She said her son worked very hard to get to this moment. She also praised his teachers and the school district for helping him succeed.
“This is such a good district,” she said in Spanish. “They give the students so much at his school,” she added.
Menlo Park City School District Superintendent, smiled at the students and commended their hard work. He also reminded them how important it is to keep communicating in their native languages.
“Keep speaking it," Ghysels said. “You’ll always cherish that and love that part of the family,” he said.
After each student was publicly recognized, and parents captured the moment on their cell phones, the group retired to a reception to nibble on snacks and socialize.
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