Huntington High School students are embracing second and even third languages

Huntington Seniors Notch NYS Seal of Biliteracy

Huntington High School students are embracing second and even third languages.

June 24, 2019

Twenty-seven soon-to-be Huntington High School graduates who speak more than one language are set to earn New York State’s Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas.

The designation formally attests to the holder’s superior language skills. A Huntington faculty committee consisting of teachers Natalia Kopshti, Deidre Mayer, Eileen Gonzalez, Itzel Cedillo Rosas, Kristin Fortunato and Devin Wendtt worked closely with students interested in earning the state biliteracy seal.

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy.
The New York State Seal of Biliteracy.

“The New York State Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages, in addition to English,” according to the State Education Department. “The intent of it is to encourage the study of languages; identify high school graduates with language and biliteracy skills for employers; provide universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission; prepare students with 21st century skills; recognize the value of foreign and native language instruction in schools; and affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society.”

The 27 Huntington Class of 2019 members qualifying for the biliteracy seal include:

French: Finn Malone, Isabellarose Malone, Michael McCooey, Haley Mortell, Erika Varady, Neurchelange Antoine, Colette Baron, Irtana Deslouches

Italian: Candido Martinez, Francesca Greco, Morgan Minicozzi, Isabella Floro, Kiara Rafailan

Latin: Kaitlyn Sage

Spanish: Yaidelis Acevedo, Oscar Bonilla, Jason Chapas, Laura Florez Velasquez, Cristian Garay Araujo, Evelyn Hernandez-Veliz, Yasmin Khilji-Neal, Emely Lopez, Jonathan Munoz, Anallely Reyes-Fuentes, Ariana Strieb, Melisa Torres

Cynthia Portillo-Yanes earned the seal for literacy in both French and Spanish as well as English.

“The Seal of Biliteracy validates so many students’ journeys in learning a new language in Huntington,” said Judy Goris Moroff, the district’s director of world languages, dual language and English as a new language. “Students are awarded for their hard work of becoming biliterate and it draws attention to the value of student’s home languages and cultures. It is not an easy task to read, speak and write well in two languages and these students have proven through their dedication that it is possible.”

Huntington’s world language teachers took pride in the achievement of their students. The teenagers have worked hard to meet the Seal of Biliteracy’s rigid requirements.

“It was an incredible journey with some students that I’ve had since sixth grade at Woodhull (Isabellarose Malone, Erika Varady and Cynthia Portillo-Yanees), where they learned all learned the basics, alphabet, colors and numbers,” said Mrs. Mayer, a longtime French teacher. “I taught all of them in eighth grade with the exception of Neurchelange, who joined us in the high school. “It’s amazing that by eleventh grade these students were able to research and complete papers in French, do a PowerPoint presentation completely spoken in the target language and defend it in front of a committee in twelfth grade. I’m so proud of them for how far they have come.”

The presentation topics chosen by Huntington’s French language students earning the Seal of Biliteracy are indicative of just how high level these teenagers are.

  1. Neurchelange Antoine: Racism in the World
  2. Colette Baron: Equity in the Workplace
  3. Irtana Deslouches: World Hunger
  4. Finn Malone: Presidential Campaigns and Elections in France and the US
  5. Isabellarose Malone: Psychiatric Care in France and the US
  6. Mike McCooey: Acidification of Oceans and its Effect on the Coral Reefs Throughout the World
  7. Haley Mortell: The French and American Economy
  8. Cynthia Portillo-Yanes: Educational Systems in France the US and Chile and El Salvador
  9. Erika Varady: Nuclear Power in France and the World