A Score of Seniors Are Multilingual Masters

A Score of Seniors Are Multilingual Masters

When they graduate in June, 20 Wantagh High School seniors will have the Seal of Biliteracy affixed to their diplomas, a sign that they are highly skilled in two or more languages. 

Wantagh High School has been awarding the Seal of Biliteracy since 2018, and students get their names added to a plaque that hangs on the second floor. The designation recognizes students who have demonstrated mastery of English and at least one world language. They may earn the Seal in one of the languages taught in Wantagh – French, Italian and Spanish – or a language they learned independently.

This year’s recipients are:

French: Ella Cetina, Lauren Cox and Noelle Fox

Italian: Charles Albano, Milena Colaianni, James Curan, Madison Foster and Angela Pellicoro

Portuguese: Julia Karasu

Spanish: Despina Avgousti, Samuel Boiko, Sarah Braun, Sean Browne, Ashley Divver, Katherine Killian, Crystal Li, Matthew Lin, Jack McCarthy, Lilly Sloves, and Nora Toscano.

Angela Pellicoro, who is also president of the World Language Honor Society, said she pursued the Seal of Biliteracy because studying Italian has meant much more to her than just learning the words. She has immersed herself into the Italian language and culture, and receiving this designation affirms that hard work and commitment. 

Nora Toscano, treasurer of the World Language Honor Society, feels similarly about learning Spanish. She also credited Wantagh’s world language teachers, whose dedication and enthusiasm fostered her love of language and culture. 

“It’s really special to me, because I’ve been taking Spanish since third grade,” she said, referring to FLES, the district’s elementary foreign language program. “This is the culmination of learning another language almost my entire life.” 

Students had to complete a cultural comparison research project and present it in their respective world language to a panel of teachers and administrators. Angela looked at the role of teachers and parents in the United States and Italy in supporting student mental health in schools, while Nora studied the impact of social media on body image and mental health in teenagers in the U.S. and Spain.

“This year marks the greatest number of Seal of Biliteracy recipients at Wantagh High School since the district began offering the accolade,” said Director of Humanities Julie Rosslee. “This success is a testament to both the students’ passion for studying and embracing world languages and culture as well as to the teachers’ devotion to instruction and support of their learners.”