A night to recognize the talents and achievements of students in the Department of World Language, Bilingual and ESL turned into a Latin dance party thanks to visiting musicians from Bachata Academy in the Dominican Republic. 

By Gary Miller

Family Night was set for March 1 to celebrate the district’s World Language, Bilingual and ESL Department and the talents and accomplishments of its students.

But when musicians from Bachata Academy of the Dominican Republic decided to visit Linden that day, the whole celebration was taken up a notch.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM WORLD LANGUAGE FAMILY NIGHT

“This was a very special night,” said Kevin LaMastra, supervisor of World Languages, Bilingual, and ESL. “I was so happy to see the LHS auditorium filled with over 500 people there to honor the achievements of our Seal of Biliteracy students while celebrating with musical performances reflecting our community’s linguistic and cultural diversity. It was truly a night to remember.”

The day started with an informal workshop in which Bachata students worked with Linden High School musicians in the afternoon to show them some tips and techniques on playing bachata and merengue music.

crowd dancing as band plays on stage

Family Night began with a ceremony to honor 46 Linden High School students who have achieved the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy from the New Jersey Department of Education. These students will receive a special seal on their diplomas that signifies they have reached a high level of fluency in two languages.

“When an LHS senior is able to earn this prestigious distinction, it is often the culmination of years of collaboration between ESL and World Languages teachers,” LaMastra explained. “The two departments are working together to create multiple pathways for students to become biliterate.

“Thanks to the state and national recognition provided by the Seal, universities and future employers will recognize that our students are graduating with 21st Century skills, giving them an advantage in the labor market and global society.”

With 46 students receiving the Seal, the number far exceeds the total of 35 last school year and 17 the year before.

“This is an incredible achievement by our high school seniors, and the number of our student reaching these heights grows every year,” said Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi. “Our commitment to the Seal of Biliteracy program demonstrates two of our core values as a district: Respect for diversity and excellence in education.

Students from LHS and McManus Middle School then put on performances of dance and poetry to highlight the cultural diversity in the department and throughout the district.

The night was topped off by a wonderful concert from the visiting students from Bachata Academy, which turned into a spontaneous dance party. Students, families, and staff members filled the floor space in front of the auditorium stage, dancing in celebration of their visitors’ Latin beat.

“This celebration emphasizes how we as a district value our community’s languages and cultures,” LaMastra said, “and how we can collaborate to help students graduate with high levels of literacy in more than one language.”

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large group of students in front of stage

Forty-six Linden High School seniors were honored with the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy.

These are the students who have achieved the Seal of Biliteracy:

French

Stephanie Araujo, Allan Pierre, Katherine Polo, Berithsa Dalzon, Nevaeh Corvington, Islande Corgelas.

German

Christopher Banks, Ludmila Muntian, Jannice Quevedo-Vilcahuaman, Jade Rich, Angelica Szurlej, Piotr Zelazny.

Italian

Josiah Lewis, Erika Martinez, Ian Rengifo.

Spanish

Brian Neves, Melanie Churampi, Francisco Martinez, Radhames Rosario Cambero, Jeremiah Acosta, Samuel Aristizabal-Sanchez, Sebastian Chaquea, Kelly Landaverde, Nancy Lima De Feliz, Diane Lopez, Gilbert Nolasco, Abigail Vazquez, Carolina Andrade, Ashley Burgos, Love Desrosiers, Junnior Erazo, Lerany Jimenez, Patrycja Komajda, Daniel Lopez, Jaysa Martinez, Melody Ortega, Natalie Perez, Thara Polanco Diaz, Joseph Rojas, Andrew Salermo, Tiffany Suarez, Nahomy Suarez Dieppa, Yaniris Valerio, Melanie Vargas, Sandy Rivera Maisonet.

Polish

Patrycja Komajda

Arabic

Omar Mohamad