JHS Held ENL Ceremony for Students & Their Families

Jamestown High School recently held a ceremony at Jamestown Business College for six English as a New Language (ENL) students who achieved proficiency in English:  Darlene Harris, Minelys Perez-Cruz, Kathyuscaly Rios-Ocasio, Joseph Rodriguez, Alex Romero-Valentin and Anarilys Torres. Former ENL student, JHS graduate and current JBC student Luis Castro spoke at the event. He shared valuable advice, having been in students’ shoes, about making the right decisions and pursuing a successful future. He stressed that the sky is the limit as options for bilingual employees. The event had a great turnout with twenty families attending.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these students and thankful to all of those who made this celebration possible!” exclaimed Michelle McDowell, JPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “Many people may not understand the difficulty of acquiring a second language at the age of adolescence, but this is a huge achievement for these six students. By demonstrating proficiency in English, these students have the immediate benefit of no longer needing to take ENL coursework. They are freer to develop their interests in other academic areas. Looking to the future, the ability of being bilingual in an increasingly globalized world is invaluable.” 

JHS ENL teacher Debbie Oakes added, “Hopefully, by taking the time to celebrate and honor the successes, it may open new dialogues between students and families about ENL, and the value of bilingualism, education and their futures.”

The families enjoyed the ceremony, which included speeches from JBC Dean Pamela Reese and JHS Principal Mike McElrath. Max Martin from JBC’s Community Outreach/Admissions helped translate at the event and the families enjoyed a home-cooked meal of traditional Hispanic dishes.

The event came about when Mrs. Oakes shared with JBC’s Yanira Castellano her idea to have a celebration dinner for the students. Within a day or two, Mrs. Castellano shared that Brenda Salemme, JBC Director of Admissions, wanted to help. The event was produced with the help of many volunteers: JHS Principal Dr. McElrath, JBC Dean, Pamela Reese, who prepared and served the food herself, with help from Chrissy Conklin and Yanira Castellano. John Barber, of the YMCA, presented a one-year YMCA membership to each honoree. Deb Hargis, from Chautauqua Striders, donated centerpieces for the tables and a small gift for each honoree. Linda Lucas and Faith Graham, JHS ENL teachers, helped with getting the word out to students and reminding them about the event. Many JHS teachers took the time to write comments of encouragement, as well as memorable moments about their students to be shared throughout the evening.

“We were thrilled that JPS Superintendent Apthorpe came and personally introduced himself to each family before the event began,” said Mrs. Oakes. She exclaimed that the night was an important recognition of the accomplishments of our bilingual students and families.

posted on 11/29/2017 - filed under: Academics, Community, ENL, JHS, Parents, Spotlight, Students