Fresno elementary school honors bilingualism and diversity with new mural

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sunset Elementary School in Fresno is hosting its first in-person back-to-school night since the pandemic.

To honor the special occasion, they are unveiling a brand new mural that showcases bilingualism and diversity.

Natanska Valtierra is the principal at the Spanish Dual Immersion school.

"The Governor of California came here to Sunset, he was here signing a bill that also endorses bilingual education, and I remember being embarrassed about our logo. It was small, it was old and the colors did not match our red and black," says Principal Valtierra.

Less than a year later, the mural was done.

It was painted by local artist, Jose Elias.

Sunset Elementary School received a $16,000 grant from Blue Shield California to make the mural possible.

At the center of the mural is the school mascot, a tiger. Around it are multilingual role models.

Principal Valtierra mentions, "Bilingualism can open the doors in any area, whether you are in sports or education, social justice, engineering or music, so we try to portray that in our mural."

Fresno Unified has over a dozen campuses that offer dual language options in both Hmong and Spanish.

At Sunset Elementary, there are over 400 students.

"Being bilingual is extremely important and it is helpful. I know it because I am too and my primary language is Spanish. I didn't speak any English until I learned it when I was in my 20s and it's very important. It opened the door for me," shares Principal Valtierra.

Half of the students in the classrooms speak English, the other half Spanish.

Together, they help each other learn and grow in academics.

Principal Valtierra explains, "Once they get to level 5th or 6th grade, they perform just as good or even better than students that speak one language."

Principal Valtierra encourages anyone who is interested to enroll their students in the dual immersion programs.

A link to programs can be found here.
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