Bill Mattos: As a proud alum and community member, disappointed in Orestimba High School
HIGH SCHOOL DISAPPOINTS. I graduated from Orestimba High School more than 40 years ago, and since then I do my share of bragging about the school, the students and the parents who support it…My daughters attended district schools like me and they excelled afterward……so last week when a friend walked across the street following the high school graduation ceremonies to my home and told me “she thought something there was inappropriate” I had no idea what she meant. Then she said the valedictorian gave his speech in Spanish. Now my friend was born in the Azores, and today as vice president of a major local California company she speaks five languages. She understood every word of the speech, but she was shocked that it wasn’t given in English. So was I!
There also were other people from out of town and out of state who were dumbfounded by the speech, they didn’t understand a word of it.
Since then Facebook has lit up about Newman’s graduation. I don’t blame the student for this; however, the administration should have stopped it way before graduation night. If you want to provide folks who only speak Spanish better information, then provide the speech in Spanish with handouts, or have the students include some Spanish in a mostly English speech. But the entire speech should have never been given in only Spanish.
English is the first language of America, and in my opinion there was no place for this sort of change, especially in Newman. As we ponder the future, many businesses and contributors to TOSCA, the organization that gives so much money to our students each year (more than $100,000 this year) may demand graduation ceremonies follow a tradition that makes sense in our community. I’m an advocate of students graduating high school and college with bilingual capabilities, because so many businesses and professional organizations thrive when that happens. The majority of American businesses speak English first, but provide bilingual workers as well for those who speak another language.
If I’m wrong about my column here, then I think this subject should be debated at an upcoming school board meeting. That’s where the final decisions must be made regarding any changes in graduation tradition; especially changes that make little sense to many of us who have done so much to support our children, schools and public education.