News

31 seniors earn prestigious Seal of Biliteracy


May 26, 2020

By Alex Shapiro
Webmaster

This article is part of The Lighthouse’s weeklong “The Power of Language” in-depth reporting series.

Senior Rodrigo Gameiro works at ShopRite in Lyndhurst, where it is important to have good customer service skills. Every day, he helps people in the community find what they are looking for among the aisles and aisles of products. He said his fluency in English and Portuguese has been helpful on the job because he can converse with more customers than if he only spoke one language.

“Being bilingual has helped me with my job because many places need people who speak multiple languages, especially in the U.S. where there are so many diverse people,” Gameiro said.

Recollecting a time when he used his knowledge of Portuguese to help a customer call a taxi, Gameiro said it feels good to use his foreign language skills to offer assistance.

“I got to help someone who really needed help, and it makes me happy that I made someone else’s day,” Gameiro said. 

Gameiro’s foreign language fluency is not just paying off at work. It has also earned him accolades at LHS, where he was one of 31 students to be awarded the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy.

This prestigious designation recognizes seniors within the state who scored a four or above on the Advanced Placement World Language and Culture exam and those who passed the Seal of Biliteracy Test, which generally consists of speaking, reading, listening and writing sections.

Gameiro said his mother encouraged him to take the test as a way to enhance his resumé. Since Portuguese is not a language offered at LHS, Gameiro said he prepared at home with the help of his family.

This prestigious designation recognizes seniors within the state who scored a four or above on the Advanced Placement World Language and Culture exam and those who passed the Seal of Biliteracy Test, which generally consists of speaking, reading, listening and writing sections.

“At the beginning, I was a bit nervous because of all of the pressures that come with the test. I personally always want to do [well] on tests and not let my parents down,” Gameiro said. “As the test went on, I started to feel less nervous and more confident because it, overall, was not a hard test.”

Spanish teacher Señora Rojas, who oversees the test at LHS, said every year she searches for senior students who she feels would excel on the exam.

“One of the biggest challenges is the time constraints associated with this assessment.  Gathering information on every senior to identify potential candidates for the Seal of Biliteracy is tedious and time-consuming,” Rojas said. “It is extremely challenging to secure certified speakers of the least common languages and then set up testing schedules to accommodate testers and make myself available to proctor each of those assessments.”

Even though the test is challenging, Rojas said seniors who take language classes at the high school or speak another language fluently at home should believe in themselves and attempt the exam.

“As a world language teacher, I strive to promote language learning and cultural awareness. I encourage all seniors to consider challenging themselves by taking the Seal of Biliteracy assessment,” Rojas said.

Senior Will Chock, who is in Rojas’ AP Spanish Language class, is among the 23 students to have earned the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish language fluency.

“The writing section was tough because of the amount we had to write. Each question would ask for about three to four paragraphs,” Chock said. “The rest was fairly easy, and I think the seal can be useful to prove that I am bilingual.”

Chock said because of Rojas’ mentorship, he felt ready for the test.

“She sent out many practice exams and questions to prepare everyone for the material they were going to see,” Chock said.

Unlike Chock, senior Nicole Iglesias earned the Seal of Biliteracy as a result of her passing score on the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam during her junior year. She said she was happy to receive the seal without having to take another test.

“Since I’m a native speaker, doing well on the test was a lot easier for me. However, [Spanish teachers] Ms. Veiga and Señora Rojas did help me a lot with my grammar, and I believe that is why I scored so high,” Iglesias said. “I think there will be more job openings for me because I speak two languages fluently.”

Iglesias said she wants to pursue a career in either psychology or radiology and believes being bilingual will give her an advantage when it comes to finding a job.

“People tend to hire people who are more beneficial to their companies,” Iglesias said. “I am excited for all the opportunities that come along with being bilingual in the future.”

bookmark icon