After having recently attended our local high school graduation ceremony I couldn’t help thinking not only how impressive our graduates were because of the decorum shown by them, but also their demonstration of maturity and overall exemplary behavior—it was impressive.
They are not only a tribute to the district but also to their individual families that have instilled in them the many attributes they possess and demonstrate. They are the shining culmination of not only their hard and dedicated efforts throughout their educational journey through our system, but also significantly represent the finished product of the efforts and dedication of the entire teaching staff jointly working together at all levels in the district.
Having been actively involved in education at many different levels for sixty years—the majority spent here—It was deeply rewarding for me to hear senior class president Erik Toscano recognize and verbalize to his classmates that “from an early age we have been blessed to speak two languages.” Earlier he made specific reference of the diversity of the district for being located on the border.
Later in the program other students articulately addressed the class in both Spanish and English. I couldn’t help but think about years past when speaking Spanish anywhere in the Douglas schools was not only discouraged but strictly prohibited by the administration. Unfortunately, at the time that practice was seen as an anathema to many in positions of authority in the district. In many cases it elicited corporal punishment and suspension! Fortunately, now what was once seen as a bane has now become an added positive endorsement and accentuates as a bonus and bi-product our student’s education. Above all, our students now recognize and appreciate this asset that most already possessed inherently and incidentally since early childhood. However, many others had to initially learn the English component through special classes at various grade levels depending on their placement and entry to the district. Many of these still have difficulty and struggle. Ultimately however, after intensified instruction, they too will become proficient in both languages and also have that valued and significant advantage in their future endeavors—especially in this polyglot world of today and in a very competitive market place.
Our district can be proud of the invaluable de facto binary education availed to our students. We are a district that proudly produces well educated students with an added advantage that the majority are also truly bilingual.
The Douglas Unified District proudly serves this great bilingual-bicultural community. Parents and our entire community should be thankful and appreciative to our highly dedicated and capable staff at all levels of instruction for having the ability to recognize and proficiently deal with this unique and innate ability of our students.
The acknowledgement and appreciation of this quality by the students can be measured by the reaction to Toscano’s comments and the overwhelming raucous response of approval given by the entire graduating class.