45 EHHS Seniors Earn Seal of Biliteracy
Posted on 06/08/2022
Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy

45 students from East Hartford High School will graduate with a special recognition. These students earned the Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy, which will appear on their high school diploma and transcript, after demonstrating their ability to speak in two or more languages.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and I think we need to stress the fact that speaking Spanish or speaking multiple languages is something that is needed in the future. So getting the Seal of Biliteracy is one of those core ways that you can do that,” said Senior Elizabeth Kalugira, who earned the seal as a foreign language learner.

To earn the Seal of Biliteracy here in East Hartford, students must meet all of their English language graduation requirements, and also demonstrate proficiency in a second language. That is usually done through taking the AAPPL exam, which tests a student’s ability in speaking, reading, listening and writing.

Kalugira said her Spanish classes at East Hartford High School prepared her for the exam.

“Just being around that environment, and being around students that speak Spanish in the school, you just get that extra exposure,” she added.

Heritage Spanish speaker Jared Gerena also earned the seal, saying he grew up in a household where his parents spoke Spanish. Now he’s grateful for that exposure to two languages, which will help him in his future.

“I basically picked it up from when I was young. I never really learned it. It was just always there, my parents always talked to me in Spanish,” said Gerena. “I appreciate my parents for doing that. They just kept talking to me, pushing me to do it.”

This class includes EHPS’s first student to receive the Seal in English and French. Native speaker Keren Anako came to the United States without knowing any English. She encourages other ESL students to work hard, take the exam and earn the Seal.

“Don’t’ be afraid to take the test,” said Anako. “Life is not always easy. You just have to keep going until you achieve your goal.”

The Seal certifies the attainment of biliteracy to employers and institutions of higher education. It can help to ensure proper placement in language courses at the college/university level. It may also provide increased career opportunities and a higher pay rate when students join the workforce.

Valentina Gonzalez, who earned the Seal as an ESL Spanish speaker, says she hopes this skillset will help her reach her goals of becoming a lawyer.

“I want to major in law, so that helps me because I want to help my community, my Latina community,” Gonzalez said.

In addition to the 45 students from EHHS, East Hartford Public Schools anticipates more students will qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy from the Connecticut IB Academy based on their IB exam results that are released during the summer.

“We feel really passionate that being biliterate is super important in today’s world, being able to communicate with as many people as possible,” said Elizabeth Peczuh, EHPS Supervisor of World Language, EL, and Bilingual Programs.

She added, “We also recognize the rich diversity of East Hartford, so while we do have students that take a second language as a foreign language, we also have many students that come to us already knowing another language and we want to recognize their ability to speak and communicate in both.”