Santa Barbara Unified School District parents and educators are also honored at this annual event

Santa Barbara Unified School District’s English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) honored students, parents and educators at a special dinner celebration to recognize emerging multilingual students and their adult support system. Students were nominated by their schools for their effort and overall academic achievement while also overcoming personal challenges. Adults were also recognized for their work in going above and beyond in their support of students learning English.

The English Learners Advisory Committee Celebration was held at Santa Barbara High School Cafeteria and featured a special guest speaker Reyna Grande, author of “The Distance Between Us” and Santa Barbara High School 12th grade student, Dennis Rosales, who immigrated from Honduras. More than 30 individuals comprised of students, parents and teachers were presented with a certificate of recognition for their accomplishments.

“As we celebrate National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month, it is important to honor and celebrate our emerging multilingual students and their supporters as they strive to manage double cognitive loads in their everyday schooling,” said Maria Larios-Horton, Director of English Learner and Parent Engagement. “Learning a new language while simultaneously learning new concepts is no easy task. The research shows that having a bilingual brain develops greater cognitive flexibility which stems from the additional effort, persistence and cognitive demand placed on our English learner students daily.”

Special guest speaker, author Reyna Grande, highlighted to role parents and adult supporters play in students lives, that they are able to thrive thanks to the dedication and commitment of these individuals in every student’s life.

Dennis Rosales, Santa Barbara High School student honoree, remarked about how the opportunity for him to graduate, receive a scholarship from Santa Barbara High School Alumni Association and attend Santa Barbara City College was made possible because of the love from, and faith of, his family and teachers, “I made a promise to my parents that I would try to overcome all the obstacles so that all their effort to come to a new country was not in vain and so that they would feel proud of me. I wanted to do this for them, because I realized that all the time we were not together was an act of love. I knew that with the support and love that they offered me…I was going to be able to achieve many things. A year later, without realizing it, I was already speaking in English. It was not easy…All this has been possible because when I thought I could not do something, my parents, other members of my family and my teachers were always there to tell me that it was possible and that I did not have to worry because all this effort was going to be worth it. They had faith in me and their love and affection always helped me to be able to keep going even in the most difficult moments.”

Listed below are the individuals honored at the celebration:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Lilian Luis, Student, Adams Elementary School

Stephanie Pérez-Sánchez, Student, Adams Elementary School

Yahir Fuentes, Student, Cleveland Elementary School

Julia Arroyo Cruz, Student, Cleveland Elementary School

Nancy Darghali, Student, Franklin Elementary School

Maria Huerta, Parent, Franklin Elementary School

Maria Elias, Parent, Harding University Partnership School

Norma Elias, Parent, Harding University Partnership School

Katherine Martinez, Student, McKinley Elementary School

Elena Arroyo, Parent, McKinley Elementary School

Gregoria Elias, Parent, Monroe Elementary School

Ramón León Catalán, Student, Monroe Elementary School

Juana Atilano, Parent, Roosevelt Elementary School

Lesley Ricardez, Student, Roosevelt Elementary School

Eduardo Hernández Ruiz, Student, Santa Barbara Community Academy

Alexander Gallardo, Student, Santa Barbara Community Academy

David ávila-Pacheco, Student, Washington Elementary School

Deisy Lozano Jijón, Student, Washington Elementary School

JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL

Lesley Francisco Garcia, Student, Goleta Valley Junior High School

Jacqueline Villava, Student, Goleta Valley Junior High School

Dahlia Fenerci, Student, La Colina Junior High School

Natalie Aldapa Hernández, Student, La Colina Junior High School

Sophia Nguyen, Student, La Cumbre Junior High School

Lizbeth Campos Torres, Student, La Cumbre Junior High School

Tony Darghali, Student, Santa Barbara Junior High School

Kathy Dubock, Teacher, Santa Barbara Junior High School

HIGH SCHOOL

Salvador Valdovinos Gutiérrez, Student, Dos Pueblos High School

Brisa Hurtado, Para Educator, Dos Pueblos High School

Gustavo Ramirez Cárdenas, Student, La Cuesta Continuation High School and Quetzal

Gloria Sotelo, Parent, La Cuesta Continuation High School and Quetzal

Jennifer Venegas, Student, San Marcos High School

Berena Espinosa, Parent, San Marcos High School

Desi Kyle Radaza, Student, Santa Barbara High School

Gicela Guadalupe Garcia, Student, Santa Barbara High School

Members of DELAC Members of DELAC

Dennis Rosales, student with Principal John Becchio Dennis Rosales, student with Principal John Becchio

(Left to Right) Reyna Grande; Superintendent Cary Matsuoka; Board of Education President Jacqueline Reid, PhD; and Board member Ismael Paredes Ulloa (Left to Right) Reyna Grande; Superintendent Cary Matsuoka; Board of Education President Jacqueline Reid, PhD; and Board member Ismael Paredes Ulloa

Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us and speaker Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us and speaker

Crowd at dinner celebration
Crowd at dinner celebration