PRESS RELEASE: First Graduating Class in Holyoke to be Awarded the State Seal of Biliteracy

PRESS RELEASE: First Graduating Class in Holyoke to be Awarded the State Seal of Biliteracy

May 16, 2019 – For Immediate Release


First Graduating Class in Holyoke to be Awarded the State Seal of Biliteracy


HOLYOKE, MA –The Holyoke Public Schools is excited to celebrate the first graduating class in Holyoke to receive the Seal of Biliteracy, an award designated for students who have attained proficiency in English and at least one additional language. Students in the Class of 2019 will receive the award on May 21, 2019, at 4:00 PM in the Shevlin Studio at Holyoke High School’s North Campus (500 Beech Street, Holyoke, MA).


The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy is an award that was established in November 2017 as a way to recognize graduates who have earned proficiently in English as well as another language.  Students qualify for the State Seal of Biliteracy when a high school senior has attained proficiency in English, met qualifications for graduation, and has passed the state approved language assessment. Through the Seal of Biliteracy, the recognition of attaining biliteracy becomes part of the high school transcript and diploma for these students.  The Seal serves to certify attainment of biliteracy for students, employers, and universities. This expands opportunities as students leave school and are ready to enter college and the workforce.


The following ten students will receive the award: Marianegely Aldarondo, Ruth Arzuaga-Rodriguez, Katelynn Cruz, Khyarah Gaston Feliciano, Mia Hernandez, Karina Lopez-Perez, Nashali Pagan, Thayra Quinones, Dylan Rios Bernier, and Cristal Sepulveda.


“We are honored to be one of the first school districts in Western Massachusetts to award the Seal of Biliteracy to our students,” shared Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent/Receiver Dr. Stephen Zrike, Jr.  “Members of this graduating class are the pioneers of this pathway in our district.  This certificate provides our students with an advantage and competitive edge to be more marketable, sought-after members in the global workplace”.


According to Kathleen Anderson, Director of Community Benefits at Holyoke Medical Center, “A bilingual workforce is a requirement at Holyoke Medical Center because of our very diverse patient population.  We explain everything we do, as clearly as possible, in the language our patients prefer. As a partner in the Medical Life Science Academy at Holyoke High School, offering internships and work placement opportunities to students, we would like to commend both the students for their effort and dedication, as well as the Holyoke Public School Department for their foresight in providing lifelong skills demanded within the workforce.”


In addition to being honored at this ceremony, recipients will be given a distinguished pin and sash that will be worn over their graduation gown and the Seal of Biliteracy insignia will be affixed to student diplomas as proof of biliterate attainment.


“With the expansion of our dual language programming we are excited to see what the future holds for students who are being educated in a bilingual setting,” stated Zrike.




Student testimonials – What two of our students have to say about earning the Seal of Biliteracy…  


Seal of biliteracy high school studentMarianegely Aldarondo: reading a book

Marianegely Aldarondo: 

“Having the capacity of being biliterate will allow me to give back to my community.  The career path that I am considering in the future will benefit from my skills and I can service my community more effectively and my fellow Spanish speakers.  I am very proud of myself for accomplishing this because this can potentially open many doors for me in the future.”


Dylan Rios Bernier:

“I originally took the exam to see how I would do and how proficient I am in my native language. I am glad that I was able to pass this exam because I know this will open new doors for me in the future.”

Did you know that Holyoke Public Schools is expanding their dual language program?

Holyoke Expands Dual Language Program by 40%, Providing Program Access to Approximately 120 More Students


FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Judy Taylor, Communications Director, (413) 493-1605.