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Dutcher students celebrate bi-literacy
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NASA engineer Jose Hernandez speaks about the importance of bilingual education at the Night of Inspiration event held at Dutcher School on Wednesday night. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

 Being fluent in two languages is one of the greatest gifts a child can receive in today’s world.  It increases career opportunities in a highly competitive job market and gives them the opportunity to communicate with more people. 

Students in the Two-Way Bilingual Immersion program at Dutcher Middle School took the opportunity to showcase their bilingual skills on Wednesday night and persuade younger students that the immersion pays off at the fourth annual Night of Inspiration.

“This is an effort to show students the ends to what they can do with being bilingual,” said Josie Ban-Alaniz, instructional coach for the Turlock Unified School District.

The night was filled with testimonials from former students who have gone through the dual-immersion program.  Students in 7th and 8th grade performed skits, read poetry, played music and presented class projects from the dual immersion program.  NASA engineer and former astronaut Jose Hernandez also made an appearance and spoke to the students about the importance of bilingual education.

“Being bilingual opens up the world for students,” added Ban-Alaniz.  “Night of Inspiration is an opportunity to validate the efforts that students put into the immersion program.  It’s a way of celebrating bi-literacy.”

Former Dutcher student Cristian Torres, 17, spoke about his experience in the immersion program and the many opportunities he was given when he attended high school.

“Being bilingual has opened many doors in my life,” said Torres.  “When I was 15 I was given the opportunity to attend Lawrenceville School, a highly prestigious private school in New Jersey.  I’ve traveled halfway across the world to China to help other students learn English.  The immersion program gave me the tools I needed to succeed.”