Reclassification at CUNHA

Cunha Intermediate School Dean of Academic Support Erin O’Connor Brown addresses the students eligible for reclassification on Oct. 13 at the middle school. Emma Spaeth / Review

Local families gathered among balloons and decorations on the evening of Oct. 13 in the Cunha Intermediate School quad for an English fluency reclassification ceremony. The event celebrated the 37 English learners recognized for attaining proficiency.

“We’re just so proud of them,” said Principal James Barnes. “It means a lot.”

Reclassification refers to changing a student’s status from English learner to fluent English proficient status.

“The older the students get, the more intense the process becomes,” said Erin O’Connor Brown, dean of academic support at Cunha. “They have to score a 4 on the ELPAC (English Language Proficiency Assessment for California), which is a test that students take every year to measure their English language abilities. They also have to demonstrate proficiency in their reading, and approaching grade level in their academics. It’s classwork, teacher approval, reading literacy and the state tests.”

When English learners come to Cunha they participate in an extra English Learning Development class on top of their regular academic classes.

O’Connor Brown monitors test results and meets regularly with students to help support them through their regular academic classes that are taught in English. There is also a group called English Learner Advisory Committee that meets with administration once a month to receive resources and ideas of how to help their kids grow in English literacy.

“(This last year and a half) it's been really hard to access learning and have access to technology and things like that for them to keep up,” said O’Connor Brown. “So we're just really proud of their hard work and their family's dedication to their education.”

Angel Ronquillo, grade six, Claire Shanntal Amurao, grade seven, and Daniela Romero, grade seven, each addressed the crowd to speak of their experiences immigrating to the United States and learning English.

Ronquillo shared that he felt lost when his family moved to Half Moon Bay from Mexico. At first, he didn’t want to go back to school, but with the help of his family and support of his teachers he was able to learn English. Amurao shared a similar experience. When she moved here from the Philippines, she said, it was scary to not understand the strange language that people were speaking. She committed to learning and explained that speaking in English with native English speakers was really helpful to her. Romero also immigrated from Mexico and told of the struggles she went through moving to a new country and not understanding the language or culture. With practice and support from her teachers, she became one of the many students reclassified last week.

Students honored included Ana Aguillares, Marlene Alcala Mendez, Julian Alvarez-Ramirez, Shanntal Amurao, Aurelio Aponte Rosado, Juan Pablo Arellano, Jared Arguello Tellez, Jose Arroyo-Arellano, Angel Acevedo Delgado, Alexa Avila-Acosta, Melissa Bartolo Santos, Milagros Bautista Garduño, Juan Camarena-Medina, Gloria Carrillo, Sonia Cifuentes-Lopez, Pablo Estrada Arroyo, Samuel Garcia-Padilla, Francisco Garduño Ortiz, Ivan Hernandez, Sandro Juarez Orozco, Analiese Lopez-Martinez, Jocelyn Martines Sencion, Marlyn Martinez, Estefania Mendez Becerra, Carlos Ortega Espinoza, Leslie Ortiz-Carrillo, Diego Perez Negrete, Ariana Ramirez-Serrato, Carlos Rodriguez-Rios, Daniela Romero Covarrubia, Maria Romero-Miranda, Angel Sarabia-Perez, Alejandro Tafolla, Brian Ventura Martinez and Omar Valencia Orozco.

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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