By Brenda Elizalde
The Newcomer Program at Oakland High makes life a little bit easier for students who are new arrivals from Central American and other countries. This program was started during the 2014-2015 school year.
According to Janis Falco, the Newcomers head and also ELD teacher for all grades 9-12, the program “is a way to welcome students to America and to teach them the English [language] culture.” The program is also a support system for the newcomers to feel safe and welcome.
There are about 180 students in the Newcomer program and Falco loves every student she has. She says her student treat teachers with love and respect. Falco believes that these students are very different than the rest of the Oakland High Wildcats.
“By the time you’re a teenager, you’re testing out different personas,” said Falco, adding that her Newcomer students are “still open and not childish…they’re very different.”
Falco said this program is very important to her because it’s full of hopes and dreams. It helps her students accomplish their goals and she’s able to build a strong connection with her students. Falco described them as one big family.
“They’re so sweet and always eager to learn,” said Falco with a wide smile.
Newcomer freshman Claudia Martin said she feels good about living in the U.S.. Her favorite school subject is English because she likes to learn. She’s from Guatemala and misses her family a lot. She feels good about living in the U.S. and would like to be a nurse.
Another student in the Newcomer program is Reynaldo. He’s a junior and his favorite subject in school is math. He said, “I’ve always loved math!” He also from Guatemala and he feels very good about living the U.S. What he misses the most about Guatemala are his grandparents; his mother is here in the U.S. with him. Reynaldo would like to study Civil Engineering once he graduates from Oakland High.
Falco wants all OHS students to know that these Newcomer students are full of happiness and just want to be our friends. She also says that her students are like the sun, they shine no matter what’s happening. They’re always smiling.