ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. (CBS13) — He congratulated the graduating class of 2011, but one principal’s commencement speech actually offended some in the crowd.

The graduating class at Whittell High School has only 30 students. Just a few weeks ago during graduation their principal gave an encouraging speech congratulating his students and their parents.

“Class of 2011, I want to congratulate you for all your accomplishments this year,” said Principal Crespin Esquivel.

He then said the same thing in Spanish, making sure his commencement speech could also be understood by his Spanish-speaking parents and students who make up the second-largest group of the school.

“I figured why not do it in Spanish? I think it’s important for me to make sure all the families feel comfortable,” said Esquivel.

Maria: You never meant to offend anyone, correct?

Esquival: Absolutely not.

But it appears he did. One woman who sat through both speeches wrote a letter to the editor in a local newspaper saying Esquival “crossed the line”, “was inappropriate” and “took away from the recognition the students deserved.”

Discussion: Should California schools have commencement speeches in both Spanish as well as English?

“[I] wouldn’t be offended. We’re a melting pot,” said one person we spoke with.

“No, I put my daughter in a school where she learns both English and Spanish,” said another person.

The woman who complained about Esquival’s Spanish translation sparked a debate online similar to one that has gotten national attention.

Tim Howard, a player on the U.S. Soccer team, created controversy after Saturday’s loss to Mexico during the gold cup final. Howard bashed tournament officials for allowing the award ceremony to be done in Spanish.

“To me we live in America and that’s the beauty of America, that we all bring our backgrounds our cultures our languages and that’s what makes us who we are,” said Esquival.

In California, Hispanics make up about half of the students.

Esquival, in his first year as principal at Whittell, believes that if he’s got a tool to reach out to students and their parents, then why not use it?

“I’m doing what is right for all my families and I know I’ll take a hit for it, but it won’t stop me from doing what’s right for my families,” he said.

Esquival says he’ll probably do the same thing at next year’s commencement.

Comments (1,241)
  1. tureley says:

    I say let them speak Spanish, all it does is secure a permanent underclass for the rest of Americans. A Spanish-Only citizen (or non-citizen) will never get a ‘real’ job. They’ll never even get through ‘real’ college. At my high-paying corporate job there is not a single person who does not speak excellent English. Even the people we deal with in Mexico and South America speak excellent English. Our Hispanic cleaning lady even speaks great English! The only reason this worries me is because I may have a hard time ordering at McDonalds in certain parts of town, or if I have to sit through a longer graduation ceremony because all of the speeches are given twice. Otherwise, props to the bilingual principal.

  2. Joey says:

    (1) The United States has no official language;

    (2) Speaking multiple languages is a skill to be praised, not a flaw to be faulted;

    (3) The principal DID deliver his remarks in English; he simply took an extra few moments to deliver them in Spanish, too;

    (4) At the rate most of America gets more ignorant by the day, wasting time quibbling about issues like this, by 2030 we’ll all be delivering commencement addresses in Chinese.

    1. RLA Bruce says:

      The official language of commerce is English, and certainly it’s the language of education in America. He in essence established a 2nd-class citizenry based on language, as if to say, “You don’t have to worry about not understanding English”. I agree with #4 except is is NOT a quibble to decide what language an AMERICAN high school commencement should be held in. Our language is a part of our identity as Americans. We are losing our American identity with idiot principals and teachers who don’t know the damage they do by “diversifying” until there are no common values left for Americans to believe in.

    2. eg says:

      The official language of the original 13 colonies was English. Chosen over German which was the principle language of the Pennsylvania farmers and business owners who financed a good portion of the American Revolution.

    3. Marinda says:

      Failing to insist that students learn to speak fluent English from the get-go in school is a terrible disservice to their future. Yes, being multi-lingual in the USA is an asset, but only if you speak English very well. High-minded theories don’t put food on the table.

  3. John C says:

    To give the speech only in Spanish would have been wrong, but giving it in both Spanish and English should be okay.

    If out of 30 members of the graduating class, only one spoke English and the rest spoke Spanish, would it be inappropriate or offensive to give the commencement speech in Spanish, and then also in English?

    1. RLA Bruce says:

      They are graduating high school! They should at least have the English language in common. If not, how are they taught?

    2. Ali Alexander says:

      If the rest spoke Spanish and couldn’t speak English, I’d wonder how they’re graduating. And just what they’re going to do after graduation.

  4. Jay says:

    There’s nothing wrong with being bilingual and I’m all for teaching/learning multiple languages. I have parents that emmigrated to this country, are naturalized citizens and are bilingual (fluent in English with zero accent). HOWEVER, English should be the number 1 and ONLY official language of this country! You either learn the American culture and language or get out…plain and simple. Just as much is expected when we go to other countries. “When in Rome…” as they say. Contrary to many of the progressives’ arguments, recognizing English as this country’s number one language is not excluding other cultures or ethnicities. It is saying, “You need to adopt OUR ways and OUR customs”. If you want to speak and live as a Hispanic person, then maybe you need to go back to Latin America. This is a melting pot, but it is NOT a tossed salad. If you don’t understand that analogy, then that is proof in the pudding that you don’t understand what it means to be an American.

  5. Finbar O'Shaunnessey says:

    Why not Goidelic?

  6. DezDezDezy says:

    What thin skinned conservatives, particularly those from drudge. It’s amazing the amount of whining conservatives are involved. Oh no, a foreign language being spoken in my presence. Grow up!

    1. Chaz54 says:

      ok your right Bin Laden…

  7. Marinda says:

    Stick with your native language, don’t learn to speak English, and you will remain permanently in the lower echelons of earning capacity. If you want to get somewhere in life in this country, make sure your English is above average. Stick to your Spanish only, and you will never get ahead. Educators are in no way helping Spanish speakers by catering to their unwillingness to learn to speak English. The diversity rigamarole is garbage. It holds people back. Yeah, celebrate your heritage, but how much is in your paycheck? Don’t be stupid.

  8. glenp says:

    where was the EBONICS translation?


  9. Peter Griffin says:

    There is nothing an inbred Anglo hates more than an uppity person who can speak more than one language. When will you immigrants learn to be as stupid as your average American?

  10. Maria says:

    English is the language to speak. IF you’re going to choose to be “inclusive” and speak Spanish then you’d better also have deaf interpreters, someone to translate into Mandarin, French, German, Russian, Portugese, Dutch and all the other languages from around the world. Otherwise, you’ll be offending someone. I’m a 3rd generation Hispanic American and believe English is the language to be spoken in the United States and also the language that all immigrants should learn if they want to live here.

    1. Johnson says:

      Well said! I’m in 100% agreement. I’m first generation Chinese. Never thought of myself as “Chinese-American” – just American. Proudly served in the Navy for 9 years and met folks from all walks of life and all races. Guess what? The one thing that unified us all was that everyone spoke English.

    2. Pablo says:

      Fantastic Maria! I have German/Croatian ancestors. They learned English when they came to America. They retained a lot of their traditions, but they became American citizens and assimilated into the American culture. Learning one common language is part of what makes America great and unifies us as Americans.

  11. Philster says:

    So how dild the students graduate if they couldn’t understand English?

    1. Chaz54 says:

      because they deserve the graduation living here and making it thru… we spanish kids have it harder.If it werent for my mom paying my bills and my cell phone, I couldnt be on here.Racist white people. Youre racist.

  12. John says:

    If your living in this country speak english ! If your too damn lazy to learn it then get the FK out and go back to where you came from!

    1. J. Madison says:

      You can’t even keep the illegals out. What makes you think you can dictate what language they speak?

      1. Jack Kennedy says:

        we can keep the illegals out of the country, if obama/liberals/Americahaters dont sue us with their judges to stop the instituting of law and the constitution ………. as we all know that the constitution means nothing to obama/liberals/Americahaters

  13. Kerry says:

    The country is changing whether you like it or not… Spanish has become the second language of the United States because our government has allowed unfettered immigration from Mexico while restricting immigration from other countries.. The progressives believe that the United States needs to change, they do not like the country the way it is and believe that the Hispanic vote will largely be a vote for Democrats.So that is why Spanish-speaking people are welcome in the United States from Mexico but not from Cuba for example. It’s all politics, it’s a dirty game and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it… Except maybe learn Spanish!

    1. Frank says:

      Wow! Wow!, Your’e quite the inspiration Kerry. A real upper. The Founding Fathers, COULDN’T HAVE USED FOLKS LIKE YOU.

  14. deroy says:

    check his resume, see if he lied on his application.
    then fire him

  15. Richard Aquafina says:

    He should submit his resignation letter in both Spanish and English…

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