More than 400 high school students to be recognized at two ceremonies for mastery of English, and one of ten world languages
RIVERSIDE – Chloe Bell-Beguin and Steven Koja are two of the more than 3,200 students at Great Oak High School in the Temecula Valley Unified School District, but they may introduce themselves in one of the five different languages in which they are fluent.
Chloe and Steven, along with 417 students from 21 high schools in 10 districts who will be honored for their multilingual proficiency at two Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy Awards Ceremonies. The events begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 16, at the Palm Springs Convention Center (277 N. Avenida Caballeros in Palm Springs), and at the same time on Tuesday, November 27, at the Riverside Convention Center (3637 Fifth Street in Riverside).
Now in its sixth year, the Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy is an award given by the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE), in partnership with participating districts, in recognition of high levels of attained proficiency in English and at least one other world language before their high school graduation.
At the ceremonies, a record number of high school students, 417, will be honored as citizens of the world when they are recognized for their linguistic aptitude in English as well as American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Tagalog/Filipino.
MEET CHLOE BELL-BEGUIN
In just two years since moving to the United States because of her father’s work, Great Oak High School senior Chloe Bell-Beguin has certainly accomplished a lot. She’s completing an International Baccalaureate (IB) degree, founded the school’s French National Society, is a world-class equestrian, competed on the swim team, works part-time at a local French bakery, and has mastered English, French, and Spanish to earn the Seal of Multiliteracy.
You could say a love of language runs deep in her family and is a part of her roots. In addition to English, her British father is fluent in German, and her mother is a native French speaker and fluent in Italian. Chloe explains that in Europe, where she grew up and started her educational journey, students must learn three languages.
“The world is small and I have family across the globe. The value of knowing multiple languages is great because being able to communicate in a country’s language is greatly appreciated by its citizens,” said Chloe. “My family enjoys traveling, and being able to speak other languages builds cultural understanding and values diversity.”
Chloe continues to challenge her language mastery by using all three languages whenever possible. She enjoys watching French comedies and speaking French with her mom, watches television in English with her little brother Hugo, and has used Spanish while traveling with her family throughout Mexico. Chloe even admits to dreaming in English, Spanish, and French.
Her next goal is to be accepted to the University of Toronto to pursue a degree in engineering. She hopes to be a role model for other young women interested in the male-dominated profession. Chloe’s experienced the challenge of proving herself in her high school mathematics and science classes. After college, she may start her career in London to challenge her skills and abilities, and aim to connect and network with people from around the globe.
While moving to the United States two years ago was a challenge, Chloe is grateful for the experience. “When I was young, I always wanted a great adventure and to experience the ‘American dream.’ Graduating from Great Oak will open a lot of doors and possibilities for me.”
MEET STEVEN KOJA
At the event, Great Oak High School student Steven Koja will be recognized with the Seal of Multiliteracy for proficiency in three languages (English, Spanish, and Italian). If an AP test would have been available for him to take, he could have added his family’s native language of Albanian to the fluency mix.
Born in northern Italy, Steven’s language journey began by hearing his family speak Albanian in their home. In elementary school in Italy, he started studying German, then Italian, and finally, English. While studying overseas, he also spent a year studying Latin and French.
“When I started learning Spanish, understanding it was not that hard—even when I didn’t know the words because so many are similar to Italian,” Steven said.
Steven admits that he gets the temptation to challenge himself with languages that are not Latin-based simply to learn something new.
“Learning languages doesn’t get boring. Maybe I’ll try Japanese next because I like their culture or Mandarin because it could be universal some day,” Steven said. “I think languages shouldn’t be looked at as subjects in school to learn. They should be looked at as a more dynamic thing because you don’t learn by just memorizing words and repeating stuff. You learn by interacting with it.”
Steven references an Italian phrase when describing his motto in life: “Prima, il dovere, poi il piacere,” which means “First, you do what you need to do, then you can have fun.”
After he puts in the work to graduate from Great Oak High School, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and play professional volleyball. Then, he’d like to pursue a career in engineering and emulate Einstein or Galileo.
“I want to discover things that have never been found before.”
SEAL OF MULTILITERACY BY THE NUMBERS
21 – Number of students who earned the Seal of Multiliteracy in its first year (2013)
418 – Record number of students set to receive the Seal of Multiliteracy in 2018
396 – Number of students whose world language of proficiency is Spanish
2 – Number of students who will be awarded twice for mastery of multiple languages
- Chloe Bell-Beguin (French and Spanish) – Great Oak HS, Temecula Valley USD
- Steven Koja (Italian and Spanish) – Great Oak HS, Temecula Valley USD
10 – Number of participating districts in Riverside County with students who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy (Banning USD, Beaumont USD, Coachella Valley USD, Hemet USD, Lake Elsinore USD, Moreno Valley USD, Murrieta Valley USD, San Jacinto USD, Temecula Valley USD, and Val Verde USD)
81 – Number of students from Moreno Valley USD who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy (most students of any district in Riverside County)
21 – Number of participating Riverside County high schools whose students who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy
48 – Number of students from Citrus Hill High School in Val Verde USD who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy (highest individual school total in Riverside County)
ABOUT THE SEAL OF MULTILITERACY
The Seal of Multiliteracy is intended to emphasize the value of knowing multiple languages, contribute to global understanding, encourage the learning of all languages, and connect with community efforts to teach languages and culture in schools and communities.
Students stand to benefit from the Seal of Multiliteracy by the presence of the seal on the transcripts of graduating seniors that not only verifies a high level of proficiency in a second language, but serves as another accomplishment to include in college applications. Additionally, the seal attests to a highly marketable skill that is sought-after by many employers.
Students from participating districts are eligible to receive the Seal of Multiliteracy in one of following ways:
- By passing a foreign language AP (Advanced Placement) exam, with a score of “3” or higher, or
- Pass a foreign language IB (International Baccalaureate) exam with a score of “4” or higher, or
- Pass a foreign language SATII exam with a score of “600” or higher, or
- Submit a language autobiography and pass an on-demand assessment
RCOE is a service agency supporting the county’s 23 school districts that serve 430,000 students—more than the student population of 17 individual states. RCOE services include administrative support to districts, programs for preschool, special education, pregnant minor, correctional, migrant and vocational students. In addition, the organization provides professional training, support and resources for more than 18,000 teachers, administrators and staff throughout the 7,000 square miles of Riverside County. Learn more at www.rcoe.us.