AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education announced a new opportunity Monday.
The Seal of Biliteracy will now be available to qualified high school students.
“I’m also very excited for the potential for virtually all students to be able to access the seal,” Department of Education Comissioner Robert Hasson Jr. said.
This came at an announcement at the State House in Augusta.
The seal is an award given to students who have received a high mark of skill in English and at least one other language by high school graduation.
One senior from Deering High School, who will receive the award in June, moved to Maine after living in the Republic of Congo.
“I could not speak English at all,” said Chris Combo, “I only new how to say yes, so like the transition from Congo, it was really difficult.”
Combo says as he nears the completion of high school, he looks forward to being recognized for his work learning both languages.
“This is something I’m really proud of because French is a part of me,” he said. “It’s the first language I’ve spoke since I was born, so it really defines me and I don’t really want to forget that.”
Another student from Casco Bay High School now serves as a Spanish teaching assistant at her school.
She hopes the seal will help open doors for college opportunities and studying abroad.
“It gives you the ability to travel, work in different countries, interact with people from different countries,”said Raizel McNally, a senior at Casco.
Nearly all were in agreement that learning a second language can bring people together.
“I think language is the most important and the greatest barrier you have to break in order to be integrated into the community,” said Grace Moukeba, a student at Portland High School.
Students will be able to graduate with the seal starting in June 2019.
Along with Maine, 32 states and the District of Columbia offer the Biliteracy Seal.
“I will highly recommend people, especially young people, to do their best to study at least another language,” said Grace.