Congrats to the 2016 graduates and staff at New Bedford High School. 71% of last year's class, that entered four years prior, made the grade and graduated. Here's the ticket: Massive growth in the number of English Language Learner graduates, from 35% in 2015 up to 60%.

The New Bedford school system has 50 E.L.L. teachers on the payroll, and thousands of E.L.L. students. It's time to capitalize on this strength. I envision foreign languages as a theme to attract students from all over the region. Make foreign languages a major academic strong suit for NBHS, just like plumbing and automotive shop is a magnet for vocational schools.

The system must actively seek more foreign language teachers, and market the high school as a training ground for bi-lingual and multiple language studies. Students from around the region will gravitate to NBHS because of academic offerings. Teachers will love mentoring eager engaged learners from all backgrounds. Imagine colleges and employers scouting New Bedford High School, because they'll know it as the Buzzard Bay source for a pool of highly talented and well verse individuals. Think about professional job opportunities for these highly skilled graduates: Interpreter, international law, business consultant, web design, United Nations work, etc. 

A giant tip of the hat to all the grads, especially the English Language Learners. You are proof positive that anyone that puts their mind to it, can learn with the best of them.

Brian Thomas is the host of Brian’s Beat on 1420 WBSM New Bedford.  He can be heard weekdays from 10am-Noon and Saturdays from 6am-9am.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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