Return to Headlines

West Orange High School Holds World Languages Multilingual Celebration Ceremony

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The Tarnoff cafeteria at West Orange High School was filled with students, faculty, and families for the World LanguagesMultilingual Celebration Ceremony, featuring inductions of new students into the four world languages honor societies, distribution of cords to graduating seniors, ESL Parent recognitions, and awards to students for achieving the Seal of Biliteracy.

The benefits of world language study cannot be understated. They include the benefits of the mind that have been documented by a number of studies, including memory improvement, delay of dementia, decision-making enhancement, and increased cognitive skills.

Equally important are the social-cultural and economic benefits that World Language study offers. First, the study of additional languages and the cultures that speak them enhances global competence. (Global competence refers to one's ability to actively listen so that one may truly understand the perspectives, including the cultural perspectives, of others.) Second, world language study supports students’ ability to be culturally responsive as they learn how to effectively interact and communicate with others, especially those they may consider to be different or disagree. And third, World Language study develops a student's multilingual ability, which provides more intimate access to cultures, mindsets, and perspectives that otherwise would have to be observed from the outside. 

World Languages Supervisor Felix Plata hosted the evening, which began with the inductions of students into the Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish Honor societies, and was followed by the distribution of cords to graduating seniors.

“This evening is another demonstration of our program’s mission to develop globally competent, culturally responsive, and multilingual citizens; and we are excited to celebrate that mission with all of you,” Plata began.

After thanking the teachers, Plata turned to the students and encouraged them to:

  1. Practice your global competence by actively listening to others to attain a meaningful understanding of their perspectives. 
  2. Be culturally responsive; so with that understanding, you can effectively interact, communicate, and share ideas with others; especially those you consider or disagree with.
  3. Never forget that the ability to be multilingual grants you a window to the world and those who live in it, so climb through that window, continue to grow, and share all that you have to offer, because each of you possess qualities and attributes that can make our world a more wonderful place. 

This year, several parents attended ESL classes to improve their mastery of English. Teachers Sintya Falero, Laura Santimauro and Leanna Amorim volunteered their time throughout the year and not only taught parents, but made them feel welcome as well.

“During the 2023-2024 school year, the ESL department offered in-person-parent ESL classes to our community as well as an online virtual option for our parents to learn English,” noted Plata.

“Tonight, we recognize and celebrate 13 individuals who have been attending our ESL classes for the past two years. Thank you for your dedication to your studies as well as the support you provide for your children to be successful in school, he added.”

39 students were awarded the Seal of Biliteracy, and three students were awarded trilingual certification.

The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to students who demonstrate high levels of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a standardized assessment. All 50 states recognize this achievement as a result of the national and international need and benefit of having multilingual proficiency.

“In 2015, the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly enacted legislation that established the State Seal of Biliteracy program to help students recognize the value and tangible benefits of bilingualism,” continued Plata.

“This designation on a student’s high school diploma also provides employers and universities with a method of identifying bilingual candidates, students with 21st century skills, and those who have prioritized the study of other languages and cultures.  Moreover, the State Seal of Biliteracy emphasizes the importance of both bilingualism, which facilitates improved communication and boosts the local economy, and cultural understanding, which promotes social understanding and acceptance,” he concluded.



World Languages

World Languages

Dong Li (Chinese), Rosanna Zamloot (Italian), Dr. Dana Peart (French), Juan Roncero (Spanish), WL Supervisor Felix Plata


Cynthia Cumming
June 9, 2024