SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a scheduled committee of the whole meeting June 12, seven South Plainfield High School (SPHS) seniors were honored for earning the Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal, which is recognized by the New Jersey State Department of Education and certifies that a student is proficient in both English and a second language. 

Seniors Sarah Abdelsalam, Jorge Alvarenga, Leslie Benitez, Sonali Budhan, David Loniewski, Abigail Melendez, and Michelle Pastuna each earned the honor for their proficiency in English and Spanish and were presented with certificates at the meeting. The honor will also be noted on each student’s official transcript. 

According to the State of New Jersey Department of Education website, the Seal of Biliteracy was an initiative started by Californians in 2008 to acknowledge and award hardworking bilingual and multilingual students. In January 2016, New Jersey became the 15th state to implement a legislated statewide Seal of Biliteracy. 

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In order to be proficient in Spanish the students either had to pass the Advanced Placement test with a score of 4 or higher or the STAMP Language Proficiency Test with a score of 5 or higher, said Annemarie Stoeckel, supervisor of world language for the South Plainfield School District, noting that by achieving the Seal of Biliteracy, students demonstrate that they are able to speak, read, listen and write ‘at a high level of proficiency.’

“This is not an easy task and isn’t usually accomplished until students are in college,” Stoeckel said, who also thanked and acknowledged the district’s world language teachers, asking those present to stand and be recognixed for all their ‘hard work in getting the students here.’

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