culture day

Students from Veronica Zendejas' kindergarten class perform the dance “El Patito” from the Mexican state Baja California Norte.

States in the country of Mexico were featured during the annual Día de la Cultura (Cultural Day) at Delano Union School District’s Nueva Vista Language Academy on April 5. The event celebrated history, culture, information and performances from the various states, which were prepared by the dual immersion classes at the school.

“We are very proud of all our students,” NVLA Principal Joshua Herrera said. “It is amazing to hear the vocabulary our students are able to utilize. This event supports our mission of creating cross cultural, global citizens.”

Parents entering the NVLA cafeteria were treated to a performance by Grupo Norteños, which is one of the musical ensembles at Cesar E. Chavez High School.

This is the fourth year of the event, which was originally created by the dual immersion (DI) teachers to showcase their program. Each dual immersion class chose the state they wanted to explore.

“This is my favorite event at NVLA because it makes my students and me feel proud of our different cultures,” second grade dual immersion teacher Patricia Guzman said. “It is an opportunity to be unified by pride and celebrate all the richness and benefits we get from being such a diverse community.”

Their presentations were in English and Spanish, demonstrating their bilingualism and multiculturalism. They discussed history, commerce, famous people and foods. Each group accompanied their presentation with a dance and music from their state, which also was selected during the research process of the state.

Long-time fourth grade dual immersion teacher Maria Ceja said that Día de la Cultura is a day where “we reassure ourselves that we made the best choice to have our children learn a second language.”

“Día de la Cultura is a day where my students gleam with pride as they feel beautiful, handsome, and knowledgeable," she said. “It is a day where our parents/grandparents grow deeper connections as their kids/grandkids perform in their home language.”

The academy’s dual immersion program starts in the lower grades with instruction 80 percent in Spanish and 20 percent in English, progressing through the grades to where instruction is 50 percent English and 50 percent Spanish by fourth and fifth grade.

Teaching at the academy for several years in English classes, Jesus Valencia is in his first year as fifth grade dual immersion teacher. He has felt a greater connection to his students and their families.

“Seeing my students so fluent and confident made it impossible to not become emotional. It took me back home,” Valencia said. “This, I feel happened to a lot of the families who attended. Día de la Cultura has served as a bridge to unite us all.”

Griselda Boydstun, one of the two first grade DI teachers, explained Día de la Cultura is a day “where our DI students are able to showcase their love for bilingualism and multiculturalism.”

“Seeing my past and present students speak so eloquently and with immense confidence gives me a sense of fulfillment as a dual immersion educator,” she said.

For more information regarding the dual immersion program and how to enroll students at the school, please contact Herrera at 721-5070.

Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development at Delano Union School District.

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