Seventy-nine students from Olive Street Elementary school and their families attended a graduation ceremony Tuesday evening honoring them for reaching fluency in speaking, reading, listening, and writing the English language. 

The students ranged from second grade on up in English language fluency, and have worked diligently learning English programs throughout school to build proficiency. While in the program students also needed to maintain good grades and keep their report cards at or above grade level.

Olive Street School Principal Liz Torres said this is a great thing for these students and fantastic to see. The families are very proud of their children.

“I’m so happy to see so many families here celebrating their students. We have supported these students in learning to speak, read, listen, and write English, and we recognize all their hard work toward reaching proficiency in English,” she said. “We also want to thank their parents for support. Without them we couldn’t have done this.”

She spoke about former principal Isaac Nunes kindly and said he had vision for all his students. 

“He appreciated all of you, and he said, ‘I can, and I will.’ You can and you will, and you’ve shown us you can do anything you want,” she said.

Torres explained to the mainly Spanish-speaking family members at the celebration that the certificate of English fluency is very important for children. She said the children also need to keep proficient in their native language, an important detail for their future careers, especially in California.

Rosa Carlson, former President of Porterville College, was the guest speaker before the certificates were awarded.

She said, “If you learn English, you can learn any language. I’ve studied many languages, and know that we can communicate with many people with two languages,” she said. “Students, teach your parents English. When I came to the U.S. I did not speak English. My older brothers and sisters did.” 

She said it took her quite a while to learn, but said a good way to learn the language is to watch soap operas on television, because they are emotional and convey the story.

“You should be very proud of yourselves because English is hard to learn, and that means you can learn anything else,” added Carlson.

Carlson said the students have reached goals, and they now need to keep on with their education. She thanked all the staff at Olive Street school and wished everyone a good evening.

Each child received a written certificate of fluency from Principal Liz Torres and Martha Stuemky, Assistant PUSD Superintendant, who congratulated each student warmly.

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