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Seniors earn the district’s first-ever Seals of Biliteracy

eight teens and two adult women stand outside on school steps
Language teacher Shelly Marsh (far left) and Marcellus Director of
Staff Development and Training Deb Glisson (far right) pose
with New York State Seal of Biliteracy recipients Olivia Bird, Lauren
Lundrigan, Madeline Mahoney, John O’Hara, Patrick O’Hara, Rachel
Randall, Julia Stowell and Paige Tomeny.
May 24, 2018 -- Eight members of the Marcellus High School Class of 2018 will graduate next month with a New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) emblazoned on their diplomas.

Congratulations to Olivia Bird, Lauren Lundrigan, Madeline Mahoney, John O’Hara, Patrick O’Hara, Rachel Randall, Julia Stowell and Paige Tomeny.

Or… ¡Felicitaciones! Toutes nos felicitations!

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing and culture in one or more languages, in addition to English, according to the New York State Education Department website. The intent of the NYSSB is to encourage the study of languages; identify high school graduates with language and biliteracy skills for employers; provide universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission; prepare students with 21st century skills; recognize the value of foreign and native language instruction in schools; and affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society.
image of NYS seal of biliteracy
Deb Glisson, director of staff development and training for Marcellus Central Schools, and high school language teacher Shelly Marsh notified the students of their biliteracy bona fides Wednesday afternoon in Principal John Durkee’s office. They had completed their oral presentations the day before at Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES.

“You are all biliterate,” Ms. Glisson said. “You all made us – and continue to make us – very proud.”

“Our first class,” Mrs. Marsh beamed.

In order to demonstrate cultural and linguistic proficiency and competency in both English and at least one other world language, students had to: earn at least a score of 75 on the English language arts Regents exam or 80 on the Common Core Regents; earn at least an 85 average in English in grades 11 and 12; score at least a 3 on the AP English language or English literature exam; earn at least an 85 on the final exam of a world language course; and present a “culminating project” oral presentation.

Six earned a seal for proficiency with English and Spanish, two for English and French.

Marcellus this year joined with 11 other school districts to form a NYSSB consortium. Students from six of those districts presented their “culminating projects” Tuesday to a three-member panel of evaluators at OCM BOCES. One student spoke – in French – about a medical mission she took to Haiti; another talked about the need for bilingualism among medical workers; another discussed the challenges faced by immigrants today in the United States.

“I remember when I was learning to speak Spanish myself and I always wondered if I would be me in another language,” said Superintendent of Schools Michelle Brantner, a former Spanish teacher and fluent speaker. “Is my personality going to come through? And it was exciting to watch you… because I could see who you were as people come through your presentations. It wasn’t just words you had memorized….That’s how you know you’re proficient – when you actually come out in the presentation. So I was extremely proud.”

“It’s four years we’ve been together, and you’ve achieved more than I ever dreamed you would … as seniors and now as graduates of Marcellus. So I’m very proud of you,” Mr. Durkee said. “Don’t ever take that word ‘no’ as a finality. It is only the beginning of another chapter. And you guys did it by saying yes.”

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