Learning to speak, read and write English can be a hard struggle for students who speak an additional language at home, so the joy was evident recently at a ceremony honoring 303 students who have been reclassified this year as Fluent English Proficient.
One by one, honorees were announced and walked across the stage at Natomas High School to the applause of family, friends, teachers and principals after receiving a certificate symbolizing that they can read, write and speak English as well as their grade-level peers.
Natomas Unified more than doubled last year's reclassification number - 303 vs. 146 - following passage of an English Learner Master Plan and commitments in the District's Local Control and Accountability Plan to boost the academic success of English learners.
Amreek Singh, principal of Bannon Creek School, beamed with pride Tuesday and hugged his son, Arman, who speaks Hindi and English. The 6-year-old was one of the K-12 students reclassified as Fluent English Proficient.
"This is validation of their work," Singh said of the students. "And for an administrator, this is validation of our work. Isn't this what we're about - getting kids to learn, to succeed? This is success: You've learned another language and you've become proficient at it."
The ceremony was consistent with Natomas Unified's Core Belief that, "Our diversity is a strength." Forty-three languages other than English are spoken by NUSD students, Christine Smith, a Director of School Leadership and Support, said at the ceremony.
Becoming fluent in English can improve students' prospects of graduating from high school and attending college by making it easier to comprehend instruction in language arts, math, science, and other core subjects. English fluency is determined by testing and classwork.
"I'm very proud that he's able to speak English and at the same time our language, which is Filipino," Joahnna Natuel said of her 9-year-old son, Deric, of H. Allen Hight Elementary School.
Sanjeev Kaillay, an Inderkum High School senior, said the certificate he received Tuesday marks a happy end to a long journey. "It actually feels great. I've worked hard for so many years. Finally, I get reclassified. It means a lot."