Three Seniors Become First Weedsport Students To Earn Seal Of Biliteracy


On April 26th, 2023, Weedsport Jr.-Sr. High School seniors Lilyanna Komariski, Jenna Guzzo, and Makayla Foltz all earned their Seal Of Biliteracy at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES. 

The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to students who demonstrate an understanding and proficiency in more than one language. Students have to work towards proving that they can speak a “home” language (generally English) and a “target” or “study” language (generally French or Spanish). 

The project started with students writing an MLA research paper with Weedsport Jr Sr High School ELA teacher Tricia Austin. 

“They (the students) chose a topic that they could use not only for their MLA project but also that crosses both cultures,” said Weedsport Jr.-Sr. High School French teacher Melissa Brown. 

Topics had to include some sort of cultural connection to the language you were speaking in 

“…It can be any culture. It doesn’t have to be France. The first thing you think of when you think of French is France and then Canada but you could do something related to Haiti or Madagascar or half the continent of Africa. When it comes to Spanish, it’s all over the world and there are all kinds of dialects so you can connect to almost anything. So Number 1, find a cultural connection, Number 2 something that you’re interested in,” said Brown. 

Foltz decided to go with the topic of socialized medicine, Guzzo went with ballet, and Komariski went with flamenco dancing. 

Komariski says she decided to go with flamenco after, “…My old Spanish teacher Mrs. Matson talked about flamenco all the time…She always used to talk about how she wanted to take us to a flamenco show. Unfortunately, everything just never worked out and we weren’t able to go see one.” 

Brown says that if she had to go with a topic she would want to do verlan which is baby talk language in France that is very similar to American Pig Latin. 

“The history of it is that teenagers made up a language so when they did something wrong they could get away with being able to communicate. Parents wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Police wouldn’t know what they were talking about. It became more and more popular and it’s actually something that’s a part of the language and its slang. They take the last syllable of a French word and they put it at the beginning. They made a whole new language. No one has done it yet. It would take somebody some serious studying to be able to grasp the vocab but I think that would be the coolest topic to do,” said Brown. 

Students then started to create their presentation that they would present to a board of people that could speak the student’s target language. 

The students would also have to meet throughout the year with their English Language Arts mentor Austin and their World Language mentor: Brown or Weedsport Jr.-Sr. High School Spanish teacher Holly Wayne to work on journals. 

“They had to do ten journals a year in English and in the target language based on their experiences and reflecting on all the steps along the way,” said Brown. 

The students would also have to do four mini-projects throughout the year based on the ability of the students to speak, listen to, read, and write in their target language. There were many options students could have for the mini-projects. 

“The mini projects were kind of as you along so you could have done a video or a brochure. You could have a phone call with someone that speaks Spanish that you know,” said Komariski. 

Guzzo did a video blog on stereotypes of dancers and a video tutorial on the five different foot and posture positions of ballet in French. Foltz did a video tutorial on how to sign up for different medical programs in French. 

The students then presented their topic at the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES and all three were awarded their seal. After passing, the students receive a seal affixed to their diplomas, a medallion to wear at graduation, and a certificate from the New York State Department of Education. 

Brown also comments that students gained, “…time management and organizational skills in order to complete the project without too much more stress…You can put it on your transcript when you go to college. You can put it on your resume or job application. I tell my students that if they want to get a job and are competing in the workforce with someone who has a similar education but they are the ones who speak a second language…then they’ll get a job.”

Komariski says she did the seal because, “…I thought it would be cool to be the first Weedsport student to have it and I thought it would be good to have during college and to try and find a job. I was looking at possibly being a teacher so I could use Spanish if a student needed help or possibly being a Spanish teacher as my backup backup backup plan.”

After completing and passing the seal, Komariski said she felt that, “Overall, it was difficult but definitely worth it in the end. Now that it’s done, it’s like a huge relief but it was an overall positive experience.”

She recommends that students do it next year and that they, “Definitely work hard, study, and manage your time well because if you wait until the last minute to start your presentation and practicing there is not going to be enough time and you’re going to be stressed. Start it as soon as you possibly can even if you think it’s too early. Manage your time well and keep going even if you want to give up because I definitely did at the end.”