MERCED COUNTY (KFSN) --Hundreds of high school students in Merced County got the state 'Biliteracy' stamp of approval Wednesday night. They received a certificate for being fluent in two or more languages and will have a seal on their diplomas when they graduate.
Dos Palos High student, Rosa Pinon said, "all the hard work-- it pays off."
She's a junior at the high school in a town where 60 percent of the people are Hispanic, including her. In fact, Spanish was her first language but she forgot how to speak it when she learned English. "It was really tough," Pinon added, "understanding how things are pronounced, the acentos-- all that was really confusing."
It took a six-month program to get it all down but now she can read, write and speak both languages fluently-- she also has a state seal to prove it.
She is one of 215 students in the county who received a Biliteracy Certificate during a ceremony at the high school. All of them passed AP exams and interviews to prove they're proficient in both English and a foreign language. Amelia Jimenez who is with the Merced County Office of Education said, "They should take it, run with it and build on their skills as well-- it doesn't end here."
The seal will be on their diplomas and high school transcripts. Jesus Sanchez says it'll help him get a job after college, "I'll have the abilities to communicate with anyone around me," he said.
As for Pinon, she says the certificate will give her opportunities her parents never had, "I want to show them," she added, "I want to do something-- it's gonna be for them."
All the hard work up to this point, she says was just a warm-up, "I want to succeed-- I want to make everyone proud," Pinon said.