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PSJA ISD Celebrates Largest Dual Language Cohort of Graduates in Program History

PSJA ISD Celebrates Largest Dual Language Cohort of Graduates in Program History

Over 500 Seniors Earn PSJA ISD’s Seal of Biliteracy

 

In celebration of National Bilingual/Multilingual Learners Month this April, PSJA ISD proudly recognizes its largest Dual Language cohort of graduates in program history. Over 500 seniors have earned PSJA ISD’s Seal of Biliteracy, marking a significant achievement in their bilingual and biliterate abilities.

 

At the district’s 16th Annual Biliteracy Certification Ceremony held from April 23 to 25, 2024, at Regency Galeria in Pharr, a total of 524 seniors in the Dual Language Enrichment Program were honored.

 

Through the renowned PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program, PSJA ISD students can master two languages, a skill that opens doors in today's globalized world. The program's evolution with ongoing improvements over the years has gained the interest of the US Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency, making the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program a national and state model.

 

Students can also earn a Seal of Biliteracy on their high school diploma, officially certifying them as bilingual and biliterate.

 

PSJA ISD is one of the few districts in the state and the only one in the Rio Grande Valley to offer a Biliteracy Seal to students, officially certifying them as bilingual and biliterate. Employers and educational institutions recognize and validate PSJA’s Biliteracy Seal.

 

First established in 1995, the program has already seen much success, and each year students get to share their personal stories and testimonies during the celebratory banquet. Among those sharing their stories this year were seniors Evelyn Martinez-Robles and Janelly Perez.

 

PSJA Early College High School Senior Evelyn Martinez-Robles recalled moving from Mexico to the United States at the age of 12 and joining the PSJA Dual Language Program. According to the senior, the program allowed for a smooth transition between her two languages and the two countries. Through the program, she gained knowledge that helped her connect with other students she identified with and flourished.

 

In addition to excelling in her classes, Martinez-Robles is graduating in the Top 10% of her class, has earned an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and will be earning her Associate Degree in Math in May through the PSJA Early College Program. She is grateful for the jumpstart she’s received in her career and future by also earning a Certificate as a Dental Assistant.

 

Additionally, for Janelly Perez, a PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School student, the Dual Language Program helped her rediscover and embrace her cultural heritage through language immersion and cultural exchange. Through this program, she gained a profound understanding of her heritage and a sense of appreciation for the traditions.

 

Both seniors completed the requirements to finish the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program and will be earning a Seal of Biliteracy on their high school diploma when they graduate in June 2024.

 

According to the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program Director Olivia Martinez, this school year marks a significant milestone for the program since it is the largest cohort to date with over 500 seniors graduating with a Biliteracy Seal.

 

“We are providing students with a variety of rigorous courses that embrace Spanish immersion instruction, which will help students understand and communicate more effectively in their chosen career,” said PSJA Bilingual Director Olivia Martinez. “This year is a record year for us; over 500 students will be graduating with their Biliteracy Seal, opening doors and providing our Dual Language students with a distinct advantage because they are bilingual and biliterate.”

 

Janelly believes she is a true testament to the power of the Dual Language Program; it has been a beacon of light in her educational journey. It has provided her with the tools and resources to become fluent in two languages, opening doors to endless opportunities. She no longer sees the language as a barrier but as a bridge that connects her to a world of diverse perspectives and experiences.

 

This program fosters bilingualism and biliteracy, recognizing diverse backgrounds and languages spoken within the community.

 

According to the PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alejandro Elias, by embracing the power of bilingualism and students’ multicultural heritage, PSJA ISD is providing an enriching experience for its students and positioning them to succeed.

 

“Students who receive instruction in both English and Spanish from Pre-Kinder through high school can command two languages, a skill that is highly valued in today’s workforce,” said Dr. Elias. “The success of PSJA's Dual Language Enrichment Program reflects our commitment to bilingualism, biliteracy, and multiculturalism and giving our graduates a competitive edge.”

 

At PSJA ISD, all Pre-K 3 through 12th-grade students can be part of the PSJA Dual Language Program. PSJA ISD welcomes students from anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. To learn more or register, visit www.psjaisd.us/whypsja.

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