Seal of Biliteracy to adorn 61 Haddonfield diplomas

More than 60 of Haddonfield Memorial High School’s 2017 graduates are being recognized by the state of New Jersey.

More than 60 of Haddonfield Memorial High School’s 2017 graduates are being recognized by the state of New Jersey.

Sixty-one students at Haddonfield Memorial High School will graduate with the New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. This marks the first year Haddonfield will have graduates recognized by the state for their high degree of proficiency in speaking, writing and reading two languages.

New Jersey became the 15th state to implement a statewide Seal of Biliteracy in January 2016. To attain the seal, students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in a world language and meet state high school graduation requirements in English.

Carrie Trantas, World Language Department chair at HMHS, said one of the school’s German teachers, Christopher Gwin, who has since retired from the school, was on the committee that put forward the legislation to implement the Seal of Biliteracy in 2016.

For that reason, the school was aware of the program and decided to have students take the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages. Students must score a three or higher in all modes of the ACTFL’s AAPPL test to earn the seal on their diploma in their junior or senior year or a score of four or higher on the Advanced Placement World Language and Culture exam in their junior year.

Trantas said students from Haddonfield’s Advanced Placement French, German and Spanish courses took the AAPPL test in February. She said George Henderson was the only student at Haddonfield to score an “A” for Advanced on all four components of the test, and Sophia Hamilton, Natalie Zucca, Grace Herdelin and Diego Meucci were the only four students to score an “A” on three of the four components.

David G. Greer, director of the Office of Academics and Coordinator of World Languages at the state Department of Education, said attaining a Seal of Biliteracy is a way for students to set themselves apart.

“What the seal of biliteracy does is it opens up opportunities for pursuing higher education and the workforce,” Greer said.

More employers are looking for workers with bilingual proficiences, Greer said.

Eighty schools in the state are participating in the Seal of Biliteracy Program. Nationwide, 25 states and Washington, D.C., have Seal of Biliteracy programs. While participation in the program is voluntary, Greer said the Department of Education’s hope is eventually every New Jersey school will participate.

David Saenz, press secretary at the state Department of Education, said he thinks as time goes on, more school districts will see the Seal’s benefit to students.

Trantas said some universities offer academic credit to students with the seal, and now, more students at HMHS are realizing that attaining a Seal of Biliteracy is something that could further them both academically and in the workforce.