North Country students working to earn unique seal on high school diplomas


WATERTOWN, N,Y. (WWTI) – The COVID-19 pandemic is not stopping nearly two dozen graduating seniors in the North Country from working to earn a unique seal on their high school diploma thanks to a consortium of schools within the North Country.

A total of 21 students from the Watertown, General Brown, Carthage, Lowville, LaFargeville, Massena, Sandy Creek and South Jefferson School Districts are taking part in the opportunity to earn the New York State Seal of Biliteracy.

For the first time, schools from St. Lawrence and Oswego Counties will be taking part. This year’s program also featured a record number of local students participating.

Due to the COVID-19 shutdown of school buildings, final presentations by students this year are taking place virtually over the two week period of May 19-May 28.

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high school graduates who have attained and can demonstrate a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.

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 for twenty-first century skills, recognize the value of foreign and native language instruction in schools and affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society.

The participating students have been working with their mentors throughout the current school year to earn the Seal of Biliteracy. The process includes final presentations before a panel of judges made up of local foreign language instructors. These presentations focus on foreign cultures and must be in the second language they have learned. Students who earn the seal will have it placed on their high school diploma, as well as earning a medal and a sash.

Spanish presentations took place May 19-May 22. Some of the presentations that same week were conducted in English as it is the second language of the participating student. French presentations are taking place May 26-May 28.

Angela Rodriquez-Maldondo, Watertown City School District, English, “Body Image – Shaped by Media?”
Evelyn Bibbins, South Jefferson Central School, Spanish, “Air Pollution”
Anah Bogdan, Massena Central School, Spanish, “Social Inequality in Chile”
Andrew Thomas, South Jefferson Central School, Spanish, “Islamophobia”

The Jefferson-Lewis BOCES State Seal of Biliteracy Consortium is a first of its kind in New York State. The Consortium was formed as part of a partnership between BOCES, the New York State Education Department Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, and the Mid-State Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network, as well as representatives from participating regional school districts.


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