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. Hyperion says:

    Trust me on this one. There is no where else in the world that they would put up with this. I would be totally ashamed to go to my wifes homeland of Brazil and raise a family with her there and expect them to bend over backwards to speak English for us instead of Portuguese. And, they would never put up with this nonsense. America is going downhill so fast.

  2. Sand says:

    Did you not learn about RESPECT when you were growing up? I think not. It’s about respecting America and our English language, you big fool get with it, this is America.

  3. Xiao Ko says:

    I was born from Asian Immigrants. I’m offended that I have to hear stories where Spanish is the language of an official event, when this is an English Speaking country. If it was a celebration or commemoration of Spanish / Latino heritage or other such thing, it would be acceptable, but not in a general event in a place where ENGLISH is the language. To speak in English is not an affront to residents who are from other nations/cultures/languages. What IS offensive is to cater to one group, when all other groups assimilate and learn English

  4. 50Cent says:

    How come it was only given in English and Spanish? Those are the only two Nationalities of students at this school? If you were going to include Spanish I think you should also include the same languages that the California DVM gives its written tests in should have been represented as well. (FYI-Besides English, the basic Class C written driver license exam is also available in the following languages:
    Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese. ) I am joking……………

    In my eyes, learn the language of the land. You want to live in Russia, learn Russian. You want to live in the USA, learn English! It’s that simple.

  5. Don says:

    This is just going along with Obamas plan to give back the four states Mexico claims we stole from them. This is the second year in a row that the US players have had to contend with the third world soccer teams, spitting on our players and throwing objects at them—in our country—and by Mexicans that live here. This is a English speaking country FIRST. When I was in Germany or France I learned some of the language, these Mexicans here that have been here 14 years and still can’t speak English—-LEAVE PLEASE AND TAKE YOUR SOCCER BALL WITH.

  6. Anandar J. Cosmoleon says:

    Tu madre, Crespen, mi amigo.

  7. J. Meoff says:

    Chinga tu madre, Principal Crespin Esquivel! Illegal aliens must get out of my country before we put you on the firing line.

  8. Hyperion says:

    It is simple for any decent human being to understand. When you go to another country to live, respect their culture and learn their language. If you cannot do those 2 things, then stay where you are because you do not deserve the alternative.

  9. June says:

    The English language is the only common bond we once had. The true immigrants of old went to night school to learn our language. Today’s illegals throw our laguage back in our face. They take, take, take and never give. We don’t need them. We need people who will become Ameiricans in every sense of the word and that does not include those who’v broken into our country. They would never obey any law. We need to use evey means we have to cause self-deportation., unlimited mass illegal immigration has destroyed this country,

  10. TJ says:

    I don’t see what all the rage is for….the guy gave the speech in English then gave a translated version in Spanish so that everybody could understand it. I think it was nice of him to do that for the benefit of the family members in the audience who don’t understand english all that well.

  11. Henryk says:

    I was born in Poland and came to this country legally over 30 years ago.Immigrants came to America with all sorts of things remainding them of homeland. I like to say that I brought my accent with me. Whenever I’m in the company of Hispanics, hearing my accents, many times they feel “connected” and start bashing this couintry. I cannot understand it, just like I cannot understand why voting ballots are printed in other languages than English. Stop kissing up to a particular ethnic group, any group!! Take a stand and demand it from your politicians. Otherwise we’ll never be Americans. Ever!!!

  12. Roslyn says:

    Try living in Quebec. If you are not French…..no job in he civil service for you. If you want a job, your French must be perfect even though most of your business may be done with English speking Quebecers. If you do not have a French name, forget it…..the job is NOT YOURS. When my son was a young man aplying for a job, he was told in no uncertain terms….your name is not French and even though you speak French fluently, we won’t hire you. In the past 35 years, our population has diminished……except for immigrants who when they arrive are forced into French schools. They soon wise up and learn English and before too many years leave for other parts of Canada. When the referendum took place and the separatiss lost,, young people were still perturbed and over a quarter of a million of them left after finishing their education (college is practially free here). Even if you apply for a job in the CANADIAN govenment…..YOU MUST BE FLUENT IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH. If you come to visit, try to stay in the west part of Montreal or if you want to visit all of the city. BRUSH UP ON YOUR FRENCH.

  13. Taxpayer says:

    Why not give a speech in Chinese, Arabic, French, German, etc. This guy is a racist.

  14. mdb123 says:

    One Nation One Flag One language If you cant cope GO HOME. My tax dollars pay for your kids to speak english and now my kids cant enjoy their graduation without hearing Spanish. Come on enough is enough! Learn english or get out. I am so tired of bending over backwards to accomidate people who choose not to conform to our laws, flag, language.

    1. Cartman says:

      Here – here!! I agree with this comment completely. I too am sick and tired of all the unnecessary accommodiations. If I were to go to any other country, especially Mexico I would be looked down upon and ostricized if I did not know how to speak the language and know the local customs. Other cultures who immigrate here legal make an effort to learn the language and customs.

      1. Barton D. says:

        It’s terrific that neither of you red-blooded true-blue “Amurkins” can spell “accommodate” correctly. Tell us how it is, o’ wise ones!

      2. Willard C Phillips says:

        Right on, Bart, when you are too stupid to come up with a couter-argument, ridicule.

  15. Wendy Silverman says:

    I don’t like them speaking Spanish all the time, but let them keep speaking Spanish. We don’t want these people to get a real education in college where they speak English. I don’t want them moving up in the world because we need a slave class. I don’t want them educated because then they will attain positions of power. To hell with that!

    1. Boetica says:

      They can get an education at the expense of their OWN government, not at the expense of my family. Yes, we need people who are lawless as our future leaders. Don’t we already have enough of that? Now we have to have “leaders” who hate America and boo the national anthem. No thanks. Learn English or get the hell out.

  16. R.Larson says:

    Figures the principal of a public school would assume his graduates couldn’t even understand basic English. Typical of the incompetence in the public school system.

    1. blackHat says:

      Nobody said the graduates couldn’t understand basic English. Graduation ceremonies are just as much (usually more) for the parents of those graduating, and the fact is, many high school graduates in California have parents and grandparents who speak Spanish. Nothing wrong with that.

      1. funkeyooo says:

        Yes there is! Welcome to America now learn our language, I am only 2nd generation from my European Grand parents. They spoke their native language at home among themselves but once outside it was all English!!! Same should be here with the folks from south of the border, parents or grandparents English!

  17. JD says:

    Apologies to this news site with all of the horrible comments from the Drudge sludge

    1. Alej says:

      The Republic of Texas.

      Secession, then ethnic cleansing.

      back to Old America.

    2. victoria says:

      Oh yah YOU are the person who gets to decide what everyone else should think and say….typical liberal loser!

    3. DixT says:

      Did you know that THE MAJORITY of Both Democrat and Republican politicians read the “Drudge Report” EVERY MORNING, more than any other news site?

    4. Leslie says:

      Don’t apologize on my account. Speak English or just don’t speak.

    5. el polacko says:

      these ‘drudge is a right-winger’ comments are so ridiculous…are the millions of people who visit his site for trending news stories all ‘drudge sludge’ ? this is just more shooting- the-messenger from people who don’t know how to debate. drudgereport is a news aggregate site that links to all sorts of stories from a wide array of sources. is he being ‘right-wing’ when he links to the new york times ?? the charge is absurd.

  18. Steve says:

    It’s a melting pot alright. It’s where we all melt into Americans who speak English.

  19. R.Larson says:

    The third world has not yet been enlightened as a whole, so I don’t expect their economic refugees to know any better. Conversely, I see most European immigrants already speak fluent English before they even get here, many times with better vocabulary than native speakers.

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