April 19, 2016 – The Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) celebrated the reclassification of more than 1,400 English Learner students during its 24th annual English Learner Celebration in early April at Walter Stiern Middle School. In an effort to motivate students to further their learning and empower their use of dual languages as they forge ahead in our increasingly global society, the theme for the event this year was “The Power of Voice”.
“Reaching English proficiency for a second language learner is a great accomplishment,” said Erick Casallas, ELL Services Supervisor. “This event celebrates their efforts and it is intended to motivate and inspire them to achieve and attain much more through the confident use of language, which is a tool of both the heart and the mind.”
Hundreds of families, community members, and District officials attended the celebration, which included a video presentation explaining the theme of the event, music by the College Heights Youth Mariachi, and a vocal performance by Owens Intermediate student Jesse Magdaleno. The event culminated with certificate presentations to the students, with handshakes of congratulations from ELL Program representatives and members of the BCSD Board of Education.
“I feel very proud of the fact my children learned a new language,” said parent Soledad Benavides. “The English language will open many doors of opportunities to my daughter.”
During the year, students with a primary language other than English work towards meeting English proficiency criteria. BCSD has approximately 9,446 English learners, which equals about 31% of the District’s total enrollment. The goals for our English learners include full mastery of academic English language—speaking, understanding English, reading and writing—and an ultimate parity in academic achievement when compared with students who speak only English. This school year, more than 1,400 students have reached this goal and have been reclassified as English Proficient.
“This signifies for us and the District that we are doing the right work, and we are training our teachers and giving them the tools and skills necessary to teach the students the language that they need to be successful at school,” said Casallas.