EDUCATION NOTEBOOK: 780 students earn Seal of Biliteracy | Property purchase for school finalized | Jacksonville grads receive an offer

780 students earn Seal of Biliteracy

A total of 780 Arkansas high school students -- a record high for a year -- have earned the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy for showing proficiency in English and in one or more additional languages by the time they complete high school.

The Seal of Biliteracy, recognized in 48 states and Washington, D.C., is intended to encourage students to pursue skills in multiple languages. It can be used as evidence of language skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions officers.

Since the 2017 pilot year in Arkansas, a total of 3,309 students from 80 of the state's public and private high schools achieved the certification in 19 languages other than English.

Those languages are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marshallese, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

The Arkansas Board of Education officially endorsed the seal in June 2018. The seal is sponsored by the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association and the Arkansas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

The Springdale School District has the most certified students to date with 1,070.

Seventeen high schools have first-time recipients.

Property purchase for school finalized

The Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District finalized the purchase of property for a new Bayou Meto Elementary School.

The 19 undeveloped acres on Arkansas 107 are 2 miles south of the current school.

The purchase price is $321,000. The district intends to provide Cory Nicholson, who is the seller of the property, with the current Bayou Meto site, including the relatively new multipurpose building. The bulk of the old school, however, will be demolished when the new school for 460 students opens.

The Jacksonville district -- a party in a long-running federal school desegregation lawsuit -- is in the midst of replacing all of its schools with new buildings, per a judge's order. Four schools, including a new high school and middle school, have been completed to date. There are two more elementary schools to go.

Jacksonville grads receive an offer

The School Board for the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District is inviting their soon-to-be-high school graduates to purchase their school-issued computer devices for $10 a piece.

The Chromebooks are the personal devices that the students have used throughout their high school careers.

Superintendent Jeremy Owoh said district leaders decided to make the offer after hearing of other districts doing the same.

Districts in state applaud teachers

Teachers in districts across Arkansas and throughout the nation were honored in myriad ways this past week as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.

In the Pulaski County Special School District, for example, district leaders arranged for the Tazikis restaurant company to distribute more than 1,200 box lunches to teachers at 26 sites, according to the district's social media account.

Another example of honoring teachers occurred at the Little Rock School District's Stephens Elementary, where Myron Jackson of The Design Group in Little Rock provided $100 to each of the 32 faculty members. He did that, he said, with the condition that the teachers use the money for themselves.

Group to perform at Carnegie Hall

The Singing Senators from Joe T. Robinson High School in the Pulaski County Special School District will travel to New York City next month to perform at Carnegie Hall.

The Robinson group, in collaboration with performers from Berryville High School, Una Voce and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Choir, will perform Francis Poulenc's "Gloria" under the direction of Lorissa Mason.

The trip to Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert halls in the nation, will take place June 23-27.

The Joe T. Robinson Choir Boosters are currently collecting donations to help offset the expense of the trip. Questions about donations can be directed to [email protected].