Principal Criticized For Delivering Graduation Speech In Spanish

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.

  • Joe-NJ

    That’s what happens when you electing cowardsw to Washington.
    All they have to do is pass a law making english the official language of the
    US of A.

  • Jose

    Speak English, period.

  • John Frykman

    That’s right…we are a melting pot, not a multilingual, multicultural Balkanized SALAD. In the past, immigrants learned English and learned American history before they could apply for citizenship. Bilingualism has no place in a unified country. If “diversity is our strength” then why did diversity destroy Kosovo, and why did the Hutu’s slaughter half a million Tusi’s in Rwanda? If diversity is our strength, then what was our own Civil War about????

    • Boetica

      Here here! Great comment.

  • ericdb

    He did it in both English and Spanish, not JUST Spanish. I think this is a non-story. Next.

  • StanleyBing

    Do they speak English at Mexican high school graduations?

    • Boetica

      Do they present the soccer awards ceremonies in English in Mexico? Hell no!

  • Anton

    Don’t you think the Asian people felt left out ?
    When II came to this country, I spoke only German, I had No special privileges from the schools attended. No one spoke to me In German so iIcould understand.
    The Mexican people are given free English class, but the parents don’t want to learn. When these children come home from school. am sure its 100% Spanish Only, because that’s the rule in the household.
    This Topic angers more then just a few, Wake Up America, home of the land And the Free & English As The First Language.

  • discovega

    This is what the public deserves for voting in liberal democrats. If you don’t like it, then vote all the liberals out and take back your country! You have no-one to blame but yourselves…after all; America is still a republic…if all you public school graduates even know what “republic” means…

  • Jose Castillo

    The writer is so biased. You said that Tim Howard started controversy. The controversy started when CONCACAF made the presentation in Spanish, not when Tim Howard voiced his disgust. My first language is Spanish, but I feel CONCACAF should have done the presentation in both English and Spanish, English first. In the Olynpics they do not change the language based on the winner’s language.The lady who is upset about both English and Spanish and commencement should wake up and smell the coffee. If she doesn’t like the fact that Hispanics are a large percentage of population she should then move somewhere where they are not.

    • Boetica

      The woman should move somewhere where hispanics are not a large percentage of the population? Are you KIDDING?! This is her country, the hispanics who don’t want to learn English, let alone come here legally can GET THE HELL OUT!

  • Mike Johnson

    This is NOT like Tim Howard’s criticism. I realize many of you Americans are ignorant of soccer so let me explain. Gold Cup is an international tournament. It’s customary in international soccer tournaments for ceremonies to be conducted in the languages of BOTH teams and the host nation. Obviously that did not happen with it being only in Spanish. This was the fault of CONCACAF, the orgnizing body for the region.

  • Anthony Bratwurst

    First it’s in English. Then it’s in both. Then it’s in Spanish only.

    Incrementally, just like cigarettes. First stop smoking on airplanes. Well then stop smoking in stores. Then stop smoking outdoors. Then stop smoking in your house.

    But go ahead and smoke or speak English, losers. Oops, I mean “isn’t freedom great”?

  • hkinsey3

    If they are uncomfortable speaking English and prefer spanish then they should head due south, cross the river and all will be forgiven. If I went to Mexico (and believe me I never will) I certainly wouldn’t expect to hear much english…except maybe “thees eez a holedup reech for the skies”

    • Boetica

      ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!! Love it.

  • Bill

    My Grandparents spoke gailic and my wifes Grandparents spoke Italian but in public spoke English and they were proud when the became Citizens of the U.S.A. tHEY WORKED HARD AND GAVE BACK SOMETHING TO THIS COUNTRY. Mexicans go home and eat a taco. Learn English or cross the border again.

  • BR from Washington State

    I hope he has a knack for learning new languages because since he set this precedent, every family in future generations will want the same thing afforded to their own non-speaking English relatives

  • cate

    English only.

  • Doug W.

    President Grant said that all immigrants should learn English within five years or leave the country. No one listened to him, so now over 100 years later, we have this stupid mess.

  • rich von

    lisa is a cutie!

    • Bill



    • Dave Martin

      “Maria: You never meant to offend anyone, correct?” Now that, my friends is hard-hitting, hold thier feet to the fire jounalism!

      • Tom The Red

        if coure,its really called favoritism.

  • hackergo

    learn ENGLISH or get OUT OF AMERICA!!!

    • illegals are Sponges

      I second the motion. get the fk out roach, you are a burden to America, And to the legal Americans who stick up and turn a blind eye to all this. F.U traitors!!

      • djmissouri

        Why not offer an after school course for the non english speaking people so they can melt into American culture like all other nationalities have done in the past. When people are not required to do the work, and the educators cater too much to their foreign sensibilities, they tend to be lazy and will not learn a new language.


  • Rinda


  • Hambone

    This is why private schools are prospering and public schools are failing.

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