Hudson High School senior Reagan Schlimgen earned the New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB), which recognizes high school seniors who demonstrate high levels of proficiency in English and at least one World Language. Schlimgen is the first Hudson student to earn the state’s Seal of Biliteracy distinction. In addition to a special seal on her diploma, she will receive a medallion in recognition of this achievement.
“We are so proud of Reagan as she is the first student to ever achieve the Seal of Biliteracy at Hudson High School,” said Jamie Weiss, who teaches Spanish and serves as the World Language Department Chair. “It is a new opportunity in our school and we currently have 24 students who handed in their letters of intent to obtain the NYSSB in 2023.”
To be considered for the NYS Seal of Biliteracy, Schlimgen fulfilled the criteria for proficiency in English and American Sign Language (ASL). This includes completing upper-level English and World Language courses with a minimum average of 85% and earning high scores on Regents, Advanced Placement or other accredited “Checkpoint C” exams. Candidates must also present a research project that meets the state’s criteria for proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English and at least one other language.
“Research projects that meet the criteria set by the state are already embedded in the curriculum for advanced ASL, Spanish, and college English,” Weiss said.
Schlimgen presented a culminating project about Joseph Wheeler, a Deaf educator who is well known for providing online ASL and Deaf culture resources via YouTube. Each component outlined by the state was assessed for proficiency by language teachers using state-issued rubrics. Schlimgen was rated on her presentation and ability to answer questions in ASL.
“Reagan truly embodies what it means to be an ASL student,” shared Kayani Ilse, an ASL teacher at Hudson Junior/Senior High School. “She was confident in her signing throughout her presentation and answered questions eloquently in sign with precious care to her sign or word choice.”
“It took a long time to do research, translate, and practice, but every bit of preparation was worth the sense of achievement I now have,” expressed Schlimgen. “Not only have I loved my journey with the language, but I have also loved watching how much I improved throughout the years and now I know it is something that I actually have the skill for.”
The NYSSB program encourages students to explore advanced language study and its academic and real-world applications. Among the objectives of the NYSSB are encouraging the study of languages and affirming the value of diversity in a multilingual society.
“In our beautifully diverse Hudson community, world language is vital to our students’ educations,” Ilse said. “The focus isn’t on language only, but also on different cultures and having respect for the differences we engage with every day. World Language is more than a class, it’s diversity education.”
“Learning a new language gives exposure and a new appreciation for that culture,” said Schlimgen. “Having exposure to something they wouldn’t usually be exposed to increases students’ maturity and empathy. I believe that it is one of the most important experiences students can have.”
The NYSSB also helps identify high school graduates with multilingualism and multiliteracy skills to give them an edge with prospective employers or universities.