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. nicanora says:

    In Mexico, do they give speeches in schools and soccer games in English? They should, just in case there may be some gringos in the crowd who don’t understand Spanish.

  2. gvhwow says:

    Right on, right on, right on!!!!! robincalif. This is coming from a Virginian!

    1. gvhwow says:

      Speak Spanish in the class room, or on a trip to Mexico or when in Spain, PR or any where else. When In Rome, do as the Romans do and when in the US speak English!

  3. Michelle says:

    speak english. My children go to a french school and I speak Spanish, but I expect my kids to be fluent in English the language of the country we live in and work. This is disgusting. I could make my kids more “comfortable if I wore baggy jeans,” but that doesn’t make it right.

    1. gvhwow says:

      Hear, hear, Michelle!

  4. Mark W. Castillo says:

    Great 4 the principal, students, and their folks!

  5. Twana Jones says:

    What he said afterward was a problem .That all immigrants bring there culture back rounds and language. yes but not theyre language if that were the case then they would be doing it in chinese ,german ,french ect . Bring your culture but leave your language at home we need to be able to communicate as americans in 1 language english

  6. mauibucky says:

    You want to tell that to the Basques in Idaho or the Cajun in Louisiana, robincalif? You just might get your throat slashed. Neither group feels a need to speak only English and nowhere in the Constitution does it say all citizens must speak only English. It’s a credit to the principal that he was considerate and educated enough to speak in two languages. How many languages are YOU fluent in, Einstein? Maybe not even one!

    1. Foo says:

      maui, I’m from Louisiana and I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve never met any Cajuns that don’t know English.

    2. R. Hoffman says:

      If you are wondering if I would I tell the Basques in Idaho or the Cajun in Louisiana to speak English, yes I would. In the public arena. Behind their doors at home they can speak as many languages as they please. When they enter the public arena, say shopping, paying bills, conversing with others out and about. Speak English. Should I go to the home of a Basque in Idaho then I would attempt to speak Basque. The same for a Cajun. In their home I am their guest and it is my responsibility to communicate on their terms.
      To insult the intelligence of another is to demonstrate your own ignorance or stupidity.

  7. Patriots-OR-Wimps says:

    Fire the principal.

  8. RonnieR says:

    What’s “right” for all “your” families is getting them motivated to understand, and conduct business in ENGLISH. How incompetent can this principal possible be?

  9. Boomer says:

    Fire the BUM! How many schools in Mexico Teach in English???

  10. wes says:

    “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.

    Yes and that is such a high minded idea but there has to be something that we all share. Something that binds us together and the logical choice is our language, English. Otherwise we are a mish mash of cultures with no unifying factors Perhaps that is what the social engineers want but as I see it, if you cannot learn English, then shame on you and go back to where ever it was that you came from.

    Sickening what is happening in this country

  11. Christopher, Georgetown, Kentucky says:

    The defenders of Spanish language use the ‘melting pot’ argument frequently. Unfortunately for them the end products of a melting pot result in a significant change to the added materials (being significantly smaller in ammout) and slight change to the pot as a whole. A true melting would result in the average person’s vocabulary being roughtly 9% spanish and 84% english. Our demographic makeup bares closer resemblance to a salad; and with a salad people tend to pick the unwanted ingrediants off their plates and discard them. Immigrants have therefore have only two realistic choices – melt or be discarded. Obviously to discard a person in any sense conveyed by the term is an abhorrent thing and leaves essentially no choice at all. I speak only of what the situation is and my only personal comment regarding this situation is “I don’t like it”.

  12. susanne says:

    we came over in 55 (legal) and there was only english in school. It was sink or swim, it was not easy but all came out wonderful.

  13. trp878 says:

    This is totally contrary to the law of the land. Furthermore, against the moral and ethical thing to do. This is why people were outraged at the NJ principal that told us they had no control over the disgusting sex survey the 3rd graders were subjected to, unknown to the parents. Lies and more lies, but with Govt. leaders that lie, it is almost becoming a norm. This however, is one I will never accept.

  14. Rick says:

    The idiot right-wingers crack me up.

    For people with such wood for English, you sure are terrible at speaking, spelling, and writing it.

    1. Jack Kennedy says:

      if all the America hatred by all you left-wingers were not hurting America, all you idiot left-wingers would crack us up.

  15. Lou says:

    Wake up America, the legal and illegal Spanish population’s goal is to take back all Mexican terriotory before 1848 which is all of the Southwest including California (which they already conquered) In ten years they’ll have it all!

    1. illegals are Sponges says:

      Here we go again. Catering to the illegal Roach!!!

    2. Roger Dane says:

      Yeah, they may want it back but look how “well” they’ve handled what they have. Crime rampant, murder in the streets, illiteracy, corruption higher than USA’s politicians, poverty, destitution (as when they leave there for someplace better), health care non-existent, and a quality of life that defines “third world.” They come to America for a better life and turn every place they settle into the same squalor and deprivation that they came from… like parasites! This is not diversity, this is a disease spreading. California will fall but America might wake up in time to start demanding “real” immigration enforcement. English only… don’t be fooled by people who think they speak two languages… Old Glory only, not two nations flags, ONE RULE and one way of life… American. If you don’t like it, grab a water bottle and a blanket and take your riches home with you because you will find it really hard to migrate after California goes belly up.

    3. karen says:

      Wow! Really?? Please, if you’re gonna raise dumb and child like argument, save it for yourself. People are here to make a living. That is what America stood and stands for. Unless you are a Native American, everyone else is a foreigner. And when Europeans came to the New World, they were not here “legally.” We are all foreigners for that matter!! You people are so stubborn and ignorant. It hurts to know there are Americans who think this stupidly!!

      1. Jeff says:

        No silly, native Americans are anyone born in the United States. Now my fathers fathers father may not have been but if you were born here you are a native American period . Now Native Americans (notice the spelling) may have gotten here first, (that’s right, they GOT here too, across the land bridge) but are now considered a race of people, not an indicator of who has dibs on the US. When people come here, I can understand they come to make a living, and that’s fine as long as those of us citizens that are willing to work have it. However, if you do come here for all that this country can give, at least give back and learn the language of our culture. Become a citizen, good for you but hold us first in you hearts. Then I won’t be so critical.

      2. Taxpayer says:

        Native americans aren’t even “native”. How about a history lesson for you?

      3. Ramon says:

        It’s not stupid…. We have a culture, law and society that is American. Anyone who does not assimilate or doesn’t want to assimilate needs to go HOME…. My grandfather came to Amerca from Mexico and was proud to be American. He learned english and worked hard to assimilate. His comment about those who come here only for the money is that they are “bums”…. I agree….

    4. Hyperion says:

      As far as commiefornia is concerned, they can have it. No one else will want to live there, it will be just like any impoverished Mexian area with drug gangs driving around killing each other, with sporadic pockets of their elite liberal masters living in gated communities and getting their votes so they can go to DC and try to ruin life for all the rest of us.

  16. Ed says:

    Man please do we not accept diversity anymore? Look people get of your high horse and lean to accept differences, and if you cant mind your own business and work on imporving yourself, because you obviously have an issue in your personal life if a speech ig going to make you mad. Oh Tim Howard if you dont want the winners to be spoken to in there home language don’t give up 4 goal in the second half and remember that soccer is an international sport with international players.

    1. Mike says:

      This is not about accepting differences… the world is full of differences. The question is whether we are committed to having common bonds as Americans, in fealty to the founding principles of this country and expressed in a common language that binds us all. It’s not a melting pot if every ethnic group holds fast to every aspect of its home culture, including language.

    2. califkid says:

      you either quit school in the 3rd grade, or you are a idiot, this is the united states , do you think they would do this in France, Italy , Spain, be honest with yourself, the answer is NO!!!

      1. Jordan Mannino says:

        you got that right

    3. Barbara says:

      Yes, we accept diversity. People who choose to live in the US must also accept uniformity and commonality of language. English is used as the international business language. It only makes sense if the goal of our schools is to produce young adults with the tools to make a life for themselves and their families, one common language be used. My parents immigrated here from Europe and spoke German in the home and English outside of it. They had absolutely no expectation that their adopted home adapt to their language and culture, but worked very hard to incorporate their new language and culture into their lives.

  17. illegals are Sponges says:

    Ever LEGAL Hispanic family i have known, Has used English as a primary Language . So what this dumb fuc is doing, Is Catering to theillegal Aliens ( Roaches). POS!


    1. Karen says:

      I come from a LEGAL Hispanic family, I did not learn English overnight!!! You people are so stubborn and ignorant. It hurts to know there are Americans who think this stupidly!!

      1. Hyperion says:

        Sorry Karen, but it is. No one expects you to learn English overnight. Learning another language is difficult. I know, my wife is Brazilian. There is no way I would go there to live and expect them to speak English just for me. If you want to live in another country, respect the culture and language. Simple as that.

      2. Hyperion says:

        And, if you think we are so ignorant, please do not let the door hit your behind on the way out. Your insults are not welcome.

      3. Claudia says:

        I totally agree with you that it takes time to learn a new language because there are many variables involved in learning a new language. Variables such as age, personality, genetics, and many others. I came to this country legally when I was 15 years old. It took me about 3 years to learn to speak English. It wasn’t easy, but now I am proud to be fluent in two languages and I am in the process of learning a third language. I think it is not inappropriate if a school principal addresses the parents in English and THEN in Spanish if there is a large majority of students and/or parents who speak only Spanish. I actually commend his efforts. Some might not know this, but it is important for a school to have a good line of communication with parents. I agree that it is important for immigrants to try to learn the language spoken in the land, but unfortunately that is just not possible sometimes. Do immigrants from Europe learn English? The answer is NO, not all of them. Not every European immigrant speaks English the second they get off the boat.I used to work in a nursing home and several elderly people there did not speak English. Out of 23 patients there were two who spoke German, one Russian, one Portuguese, and three spoke Spanish.

      4. Hyperion says:

        In reply to Claudia, your logic is flawed. My wife and I are in our 50s and she learned English and I learned Portguese to near fluency in less than 2 years. If you want to migrate, learn the language, no one owes you anything, you have to earn it. I work in a very diverse environment. Of 22 persons that work in my department, one is Russian, 4 are Indian, one is Korean, one is Nigerian, one is Mexican, and 2 are Chinese. They all speak English fluently. My Indian friend and associate whom I work closely with has been here less than a year and is fluent in English, and respects our culture! There is no excuse for going to another country and refusing to assimilate. That does not mean abandoning your own culture. My wife will always be Brazilian but she respects our culture and speaks English here! Stop being lazy, no one owes you anything, when you go to live in another country, it is a priviledge, not a right!

  18. Rodriquez says:

    Pandering to the leeches is like giving alcoholics a drink any time they ask.
    Assimilate or get the hell out!!

  19. DanDaley says:

    ¡Hablen inglés! (Speak English! That’s the de facto language of this country!

  20. rod says:

    English is for America. Cann’t this this teacher understand this? What one speaks in their own home is a different story, but in public its ENGLISH. I speak another language but in public its only in ENGIISH. Fired the BUM!!!

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