A new program that rewards Pajaro Valley Unified School District students who are competent in two languages recognized its first class of graduates in a cozy ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
A total of 28 students from three high schools earned the , indicating they are bilingual and biliterate.
"To me, this is a landmark recognition," Board of Trustees Chairman Willie Yahiro said. "This is a brand new program that's so important to the school district."
For Pajaro Valley High senior Daniel Hipolito-Garcia, achieving a Seal of Biliteracy validated years of study in English and Spanish.
"This means a lot to me," he said, adding that he knew it would be good to learn two languages. "It's nice to finally be rewarded."
Hipolito-Garcia will attend UC-Irvine in the fall, where he plans to study civil engineering.
"I think this will help me with jobs and things like resumes," he said.
The biliteracy certification went to students who took—and passed—an Advanced Placement Spanish exam, as well as maintained a "B" average of better in English classes and used both languages to fulfill the high school community service requirement.
School board member Karen Osmundson called the requirements "rigorous."
Successful students received medallions Wednesday. Their diplomas will be embossed with a special seal and their transcripts will have a notation about the honor.
Three Aptos High students, 18 from Pajaro Valley High and seven from Watsonville High were honored. All achieved biliteracy in English and Spanish.
"Hopefully we'll be able to expand this to other languages," Yahiro said.
Seal of Biliteracy students
Aptos High: Jasmin Fernandez-Castillo, Sonia Renteria, Bridget Nieto-Salcedo
Pajaro Valley High: Nancy Fuentes, Cesar Gonzalez, Fabiola Cruz-Renteria, Jackeline Castorena-Davila, Michelle Alcantar, Rosemary Alvarez-Lopez, Daniel Hipolito-Garcia, Bruny Mora-Santillan, Hugo Andrade-Villanueva, Itzel Soto-Liu, Reyna Angeles, Marilú Zamora, Cintia Gomez, Ismael Garcia-Martinez, Jennifer Fabián, Evelin Flores, Elizabeth Delgado-Llanas, Gisselle Nuñez
Watsonville High: Gustavo Naranjo, Jennifer Delgado, Mariela Lopez-Martinez, Andrea Ortega-Fernandez, Daisy Loza, Diana Martinez-Lucio, Yoana Martinez.