March 23, 2017 – It was a record breaking celebration as approximately 1,900 students in the Bakersfield City School District’s (BCSD) English Language Learner (ELL) Program were reclassified as proficient in the English Language. The student’s achievements were recognized during a graduation ceremony held at Stiern Middle School. Hundreds of families were in attendance to celebrate the students’ success.
“I feel very delighted because my son has mastered the English language before entering high school,” said Soledad Urquidi, whose son was reclassified. “My family knows that is important to speak the language of this country in order to excel in life.”
David Edward Garcia, a five-language-speaking-comedian, was the keynote speaker at the event, giving a motivational speech in which he shared his own experience. “Learning and mastering another language was the trigger to change the course of my life and make a positive and transformative impact in my life and the lives of others,” he told the crowd.
Garcia emphasized that being bilingual gives people an advantage in our society. “The amazing part is that growing up with two languages, will give you an advantage, the privilege of growing up in two worlds,” he said. “You can take the languages and skills you know and you can go anywhere in the world and you can have success because language is your passport.”
Currently, BCSD has approximately 9,524 students who are English learners, which equals to about 31 percent of the District’s total enrollment. The goal of the District’s ELL Program is to ensure these students master the academic English language and achieve parity in academic achievement when compared with students who speak only English.
“Our students know that English proficiency is a step, and after this step come many opportunities: the road to success, the path to university careers. But the English language will no longer be a barrier,” said Erick Casallas, Supervisor of BCSD’s ELL Department.
Each reclassified student received a certificate and a congratulatory handshake from members of the BCSD Board of Education and District officials. Congratulations to all of BCSD’s new English proficient students!