Tillamook High School Cheesemakers

For the first time ever, the Tillamook High School graduation ceremony will be interpreted in Spanish. There will be two simultaneous interpreters available to interpret the ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 31, at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds.

“We believe that our Spanish-speaking families should be able to fully participate in the celebration of their student’s achievements,” said Cassie Thiemens, Centro Familiar Latino English Learner and Equity Programs director.

Tillamook School District Superintendent Randy Schild contacted Thiemens at the end of last school year and asked her to look into making Spanish interpretation of the graduation ceremony happen this year.

“With a population of Latino students that is almost 30 percent, it is imperative for us to find ways to better serve our Spanish-speaking students and families,” Thiemens said. “As the Director of English Learner and Equity Programs for TSD9, much of my job is devoted to this.”

Two years ago, a welcome center was established at the District office, Centro Familiar Latino, to support our Latino families, connect them with opportunities and resources, and facilitate communication between families and school staff. This along with cultural events and activities, parent programs, groups, and classes, demonstrates the District’s commitment to improving services to families, as well as partnering with them, Thiemens said.

“Because graduation is the culmination of a student’s K-12 education and such an important event, we feel that all families should be able to fully participate in celebrating the hard work of their children,” Thiemens said.

Theimens researched the ways in which other school districts have offered interpretation of their graduation ceremonies, making connections with others who ultimately helped her get in touch with a company in Portland that rents audiovisual and interpretation equipment.

The school will be using a system that includes a transmitter and portable receivers with headsets. The interpreters will be using a tabletop booth and will transmit their interpretation in Spanish over a frequency to which all of the receivers will be tuned.

They have hired two simultaneous interpreters to ensure that the interpretation process is efficient. A simultaneous interpreter has to interpret a message at the same time the speaker is giving the message, so this requires a skilled individual with excellent language skills who can keep up with the pace of the speaker. Luckily, they currently employ a simultaneous interpreter in the district, and she enthusiastically agreed to help.

They located an additional local interpreter through a Portland agency. It is important that they have two interpreters so they can take turns because of the mental demands of the work. Both interpreters are committed to making sure this is a successful first go.

Families will be able to check out the equipment on the day of the ceremony, and bilingual students will be positioned at each entrance to direct families to a table with the interpretation equipment. To increase the efficiency of the check-out process, families can also call our office in advance to reserve headsets at (503) 815-7120.

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