The Clewiston Library graduated its second group of students learning English as a Second Language after a seven-month-long course culminated on May 21.
Nearly a dozen adults learning English, often for the first time, impressed and delighted family, friends and library staff as they each gave a short speech in English during the graduation ceremony.
At the start of the course, 16 students began lessons using traditional classroom instruction, as well as computer software and hours of “free talking,” to build a foundation in English. The class met twice per week from October to May, and of the original 16 students, 11 graduated last Thursday.
Diana Osborne has instructed the course for the past two years and provides students with the caring attention they need to learn a second language.
Students appreciate the personal attention and interaction they get with Osborne. The husband of one graduating student said his wife had attended a similar course in another location but never completed it. She was plopped down in front of a computer and told to learn English with no interaction with another human being.
Apart from Osborne’s own instruction, students are given at least one hour to talk freely amongst themselves in English — building confidence, expanding vocabulary and having fun all at the same time.
Months of instruction culminated last Thursday as the students graduated, some with special recognitions for their exceptional work during the course.
Receiving those special awards were Maria Carmen Chavez, named Most Improved; Laura Elena Torres, given Outstanding Achievement for having the highest grade; Anibal Lopez, named Most Dedicated; and Cecilia Jose, awarded Outstanding Attendance.
The remaining graduates include Soila Rosa Roblero, Maria Del Carmen Sanchez, Brenda Barajas Rojas, Rocio Rojas Mexicano, Maria Dela Luz Garcia, Alejandra Rafael and Evelia Marquez.
Clewiston City commissioners Mali Gardner and Julio Rodriguez, both bi-lingual themselves, also attended the graduation ceremony to give encouraging words to the students.
Pablo Garcia and La Frontera Grocery Store donated delicious food for after the ceremony, and one of last year’s graduates, Martin Lerma, baked a giant cake from scratch to share with recent grads and their families.
English as a Second Language has been made possible at the Clewiston Library by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which generously provided grants to be utilized for various purposes at the library.