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Yakima School District High School students receive a biliteracy seal on their diploma

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YAKIMA Wash. -- Students at Eisenhower high school graduated this week at the Sundome but among them were 14 seniors who received the Washington State seal of biliteracy on their diploma and transcripts.

Selena Barajas and Mario Maradiaga were two of the 14 who got the seal for being able to speak, read and write both English and Spanish fluently.

“I’m honestly like really excited because it’s finally like we get recognized for learning another language," said Maradiaga.

“It’s like certification that I do know how to speak both languages I know how to read I know how to write and I understand fluently," Barajas.

This is the first year the biliteracy seal is awarded to high schoolers.

In Yakima 36 graduating seniors received it; 20 from Davis, 14 from Eisenhower and 2 from Stanton.

Students had to undergo several tests that proved their competency.

“You can get the seal for passing the AP test or the IB test advanced placement test but for students who aren’t enrolled in those classes who might be heritage speakers like they just know it they grew up learning it what we do is we give them a pre test," said Bilingual Chief Officer for the Yakima School District John Kerr.

Kerr says they wanted to honor the students in the district who come from different backgrounds and award them for their knowledge.

New Vision Executive Director Jonathan Smith says this type of seal will benefit the students when trying to find a professional job because it will prove their bilingual skills instead of just writing it down on a resume.

“Nationwide there’s well over 100 – thousand jobs were bilingual is required and that’s just those that are required and if you look at businesses who prefer someone who’s bilingual then that number of opportunities goes way up so it’s definitely a competitive advantage." said Smith.

Any world language including sign language and Native American are accepted as an additional language to receive the seal.

The biliteracy seal will now be offered every year to juniors and seniors and the seal is given at the time of their graduation.

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