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. Riquin says:

    At home we speak 3 languages English, Spanish and French even our African gray Koko speaks the 3 languages. It would be fun to do a speech like that switching to any of the 3 languages at any point in time. Which makes sense because some business ideas are better expressed in English where other are better expressed in Spanish and I find French kind of romantic.

  2. Lewis Sanborn says:

    Live here, speak here. Otherwise, why are you here?

  3. John Harnes says:

    I fully support the Principal! This is the type of caring educator we need. He reached out to the families of some of his students to include them in the graduation ceremony. He did not take anything away from English speaking students. My cousins in Norway learned to speak English before they graduated High School. We need these types of educators to give all the nation’s students the opportunities they need to give our nation a future worth of our dreams.

    If their were parents at the graduation who were deaf I’d hope someone would try to get a person familiar with sign language to include them. It’s graduation – a time to celebrate – not try to turn this into a debate on language.

    Right now Spanish is on the rise — but ever school should have Chinese available. It will be a very important language for business from now on. Also, most folks don’t realize this but Chinese are going to be the next big immigrant wave into this country. The US is a melting pot — like an alloy we grow stronger byt learning from each other.

    1. R. Hoffman says:

      When I went to Germany I did all I could to learn as much of the language as possible. While I was there I tried to make sure that I followed the norm of social etiquette, as much as I knew. For doing this I received great service at bars and restaurants. The locals noticed and were willing to help.
      The Latin culture is a beautiful thing. But the bottom line is this, we live in America. Speak as many different languages as you feel you need to behind the door of your home. Celebrate your cultural heritage and be proud. But when you step out into the public domain we speak English. If you have trouble understanding it, get yourself into a class. It isn’t our responsibility to cater to those who come here. It’s their responsibility to assimilate to the American culture. The great melting pot theory only works when we don’t isolate ourselves. Bring your little bit of spice to the dish but you still have to incorporate fully or you’re just the odd bite that isn’t quite right. Then your great melting pot turns into a big pot of “what the hell is that”.

  4. Edward says:

    The less we understand one another an the less we get along, the closer the leftist elites come to destroying this nation. They do not want to be our elected leaders they want to be our overloards. How did god divide the people at the tower of bable he changed thier language, wether or not the story is true its a 5 thousand year old technique. We were one nation now we are a nation of divided people… liberals claim compasion lol but look in any public project housing complex an tell me how much love they have for humanity, they do not, they despise humanity. If left unchecked the whole country would become one big leftist ghetto… lol all thier silly reason for destroying our econmy, manufacturing is bad its destroying the planet, do not drill for oil so business has a cheap sorce of energy because of carbon, nevermind that without carbon no plants would grow… Raise taxes so high its cheaper to do business in a comunist country.. The leftist democratic party is the party that owned the slaves an voted against the 61 civilrights act an probibly the reason they had J F Kenndy Killed. Its all becoming us vs them… People need to wake up an get govment out of our lives. break up the NEA the EPA get rid of ATF the DEA., TSA none of those things are helping. the drug wars in mexico are killing more people per year than all our years in Iraq an Afganastan. Just leaglize drugs it would save billions an add revenue to the federal an state tresuurys, It would save alot of lives an free millions from prison for non violent crimes… Anyway the less we can comunicate to each other the less we will get along. lol Here in caly some schools teach in spanish, how dose that help kids intigrate into our society? What, are liberals making sure there will always be a supply of hotel employees, janitors, lawn mowers an carwash attendants? Not to say those are not good jobs any job now days is better than nothing. lol Wake up people! Are we going to remain a free people or will we be ruled by the likes of Hugo, fidel, castro, Stalin because that is where liberals will take us!

    1. US Citizen says:

      Carbon is an element. Carbon dioxide is what is believed to be causing global warming. Carbon dioxide emissions and drilling for oil are not directly related in the slightest like you’ve suggested.

      This is one of many things you are wrong about. But i have a feeling a passive reader like myself wouldn’t be very effective in opening your eyes through a comment on the internet.

      1. GreyGeek says:

        So, “Carbon Credits” is wrong too? You know what she meant, and she expressed it well. Your attempt to obfuscate and ridicule fails.

      2. Edward says:

        lol I was being general, my eyes are open, try lasting solar minimum or mini ice age. Yah we are going to do research on globle climate we are going to use all types of data to factor our research, the ocean currents the rate at which plant absorb carbon even the jet streams, but we are going to leave out the two greatest factors one the sun, an two the number one green house gass water vapor.. lol Again take away C0 crop yeilds will decrease. Al Gore was worth about 3 mill before he got his globle warming religion on, now he is worth about 700 mill i do believe he took a big hit though last year when the inter govermental panel for climate change was hacked an found doctoring thier data… hmmmm. ps how much carbon is produced making solar panels an windmills an what type of energy is used to make them? hmmmm Hope the sun is always shining an the wind blowing in your world…

      3. Edward says:

        Ps you really thing Ted Terner the drunk give a rats but about the the planet? lol he just wants in on the carbon trading racket.. it going to make billionairs trillionairs thanks, guess who will be in charge of US carbon credit trading, Goldmen Sacks…… ring a bell they were in on the fannymay mortgage crash alonge with AIG…. Its all a scam.. Scientist forever getting a pay check, never having to be right about a single thing as long as they go along with the politicians they get grants an other types of govment money…… scam scam scam… You get to feel like you care more about the planet than me an they get all the riches…

    2. Standard English says:

      Learn English, you fool. I have no idea what language your comment is in. If it were in English I could read it.

  5. Disco inferno says:

    Bottom line: Mexico is disgusting

  6. gonzotx says:

    This is America, not Mexico. If you want to speak Spanish, GO BACK HOME!

  7. Seal the Border Now says:


    SEC. 6. (a) Purpose.
    English is the common language of the people of the United States
    of America and the State of California. This section is intended to
    preserve, protect and strengthen the English language, and not to
    supersede any of the rights guaranteed to the people by this
    (b) English as the Official Language of California.
    English is the official language of the State of California.
    (c) Enforcement.
    The Legislature shall enforce this section by appropriate
    legislation. The Legislature and officials of the State of
    California shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of
    English as the common language of the State of California is
    preserved and enhanced. The Legislature shall make no law which
    diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of
    the State of California.
    (d) Personal Right of Action and Jurisdiction of Courts.
    Any person who is a resident of or doing business in the State of
    California shall have standing to sue the State of California to
    enforce this section, and the Courts of record of the State of
    California shall have jurisdiction to hear cases brought to enforce
    this section. The Legislature may provide reasonable and appropriate
    limitations on the time and manner of suits brought under this

    1. Len says:

      Yes!!! This should be posted all over California (at least!).

  8. J.C. says:

    I think any rational thinking person should be offended by this. If his students have not learned English and need interpretation then the school has failed. If however the parents have not learned to speak in English then the Gov’t. Has failed. The most likely scenario though is that these parents are the illegals that birthed their children over here for the American citizenship and have used the Gov’t to supply their children with free healthcare, free school lunches, medicaid, food stamps, and WIC. Any American citizen has a duty to learn the language. When Americans go abroad we at least purchase foreign language dictionaries. We don’t expect the countries to cater to us, why should we cater to them? Perhaps the point of dumbing down the public school students is to make the illegals feel better for not even trying to learn the language!

  9. meltyMelterton says:

    Does anyone understand the idea of a melting pot? Things melt together and become one. When the language of the alien culture is celebrated and retained you have division, not unity. Hyphenated Americans.

  10. 100lifornian. says:

    No entiendo cual es el problema. Todos ustedes son unos pobres ignorantes que hablan de los hispanos y bien que los manda un negro. Que ridiculos! Hope you get that, rednecks!

    1. baby says:

      really! how dare you!.. so very rude in writing in mexican language (I can’t even say that it is even proper Spanish – hence the mexican language!) BTW, rednecks don’t apply to whomever you’re directing your message to.. this is CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. You really are one lost being! Que se joda, siento-lifornian. !!!

    2. Americana says:

      Que racista!!!! Yo tambien soy latina. Sabes que? Mi familia y yo aprendimos y hablamos Ingles. Asimile en este pais y sales aldelante.

      English Translation:
      Pretty racist comment!!!! I am too hispanic. And guess what? My family and I learned the language. Assimilate and you get ahead in this country.

      My success is a true testament of what this country has to offer. It is very possible to be bicultural and proud. Stop cheating the system and expecting everyone to cater to you. This is not Mexico.


      1. Tom the Red says:

        Your the racist

      2. Tom The Red says:

        That was sarcasm a second ago

  11. Uncle Joe Liberty says:

    Whether one believes it is a fable or not, why do you think the Old Testament Tower of Babel story ended with people speaking different launguages spliitting up and becoming seperate tribes and nations? It is absurd to believe that diversity in language promotes strength and unity. The oopposite is true. Also, why do we not have to have signage, instructions and commencement speeches in oriental languages, Portuguese, French, etc.? America, the divided nation of limitless diversity and “rights”!

  12. Toon the red man says:

    I the original Americans had done a better job o border enforcement,we wouldn’t have this problem….Mexicans learning English and following American laws?Mexicants I’m afraid.
    They are truly the racists for expecting that everybody else bends to them…that’s racism.

  13. Toon the red man says:

    @ chuck….and your the pedaphile on this website…you and your California friend are both sex monsters from the other forums

  14. Reggie says:

    Is the English Language taught in California schools anymore, and if so, how well?

    1. Standard English says:

      Well enough, I imagine, to instruct their students that “anymore” is not a word.

  15. Northlander says:

    Why are we lowering our standards? People who are illiterate in two languages (their own language and ours) should get out of my country. If they are too lazy to learn English they should go home.

    1. robinincalif says:

      how is constipation like an illegal? neither will get out of your ass!

    2. Linda says:

      why are aspirin white?you want them to work dont you?
      I hate brown and blackpeople

    3. Doug says:

      So if there were two Korean students in the graduating class, would he have spoke in Korean?

  16. Northlander says:

    Tower of Babal did not end well. This will not end well.

    1. stoptouchingthatmabel says:

      Congratulation you are a racist, but not just any racist you are the dumbest racist we have found today. Tell him what he has won Johnny.

      1. chaz54 says:

        your mother…oh wait..thats no prize..its robinincalif fat butt with a twinky

    2. Kerry Early says:

      What a moron. You exemplify the very fact that racism crosses all color lines you bigot.

  17. Tyrone says:

    Saw the headline and immediately thought this had occurred in California. California has turned into such a third world toilet that when colleges require 3 years of a foreign language, English is acceptable.
    The majority of ILLEGALS don’t read or speak English. and see no need to learn, as politicians provide them with everything in Spanish….including instructions on how to bilk more money from U.S. taxpayers….and they all eventually plan on returning to Mexico anyway.

  18. James Woods says:

    The best part about this type of thing is alot of the illegals here can’t understand spanish either.

    They don’t understand any language enough to do anything.

    But that’s okay, perhaps they can come up with a new language and this principal and others like them can speak it.

  19. Joan D. says:

    Why complicate things, and make life difficult. I see nothing wrong with the man’s speech! We are becoming a global society, and knowing more than one language will get you better jobs and flexibility, here or elsewhere. Everybody knows English is the official language in the United States, why debate something that is already stated.
    Why complaint for anything and everything? Convert the negative energy into positive energy. Respect one another and there will be peace on earth.

    1. Mike Francis says:

      Hi Joan D. – While I’m sure you are a very nice person, did you in fact know that you are absolutely wrong when you state that “Everybody knows English is the official language in the United States, why debate something that is already stated.”

      You might be surprised to learn that the United States has no official language even though 96% of people polled claim to speak English “well” or “very well” (Percentage is based on information provided from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States)

      The truth is that America has no official language at a federal level. While it is commonly believed that English is the official language of the United States this is not true. The United States Federal government has never adopted an official language.

      Joan D. I agree 100% that it is advisable for current and future graduates to pursue foreign language studies to advance their careers and increase their viability in an international job market.

      That being said from what I can gather this was a public official giving a commencement address at a public high school graduation. If there is one member of a graduating class of 30 in a public US high school that is unable to speak English for any reason other than a learning disability, then this administrator has failed that student miserably.


    2. Andrew T says:

      English is NOT the official language of the USA Joan. That is the problem. Do your homework Joan.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s