KCUSD celebrates English learners at 6th Children’s Day

Kings Canyon Unified lauds student achievement in English language proficiency through Children’s Day celebration

Folkloric dancers perform at the annual Children’s Day event hosted by Kings Canyon Unified School District April 28, 2023. The celebration is a tribute to El Día del Niño and is used as a chance to bring district communities together and recognize English Learner students who have achieved proficiency in the language. (Kings Canyon Unified School District)
Folkloric dancers perform at the annual Children’s Day event hosted by Kings Canyon Unified School District April 28, 2023. The celebration is a tribute to El Día del Niño and is used as a chance to bring district communities together and recognize English Learner students who have achieved proficiency in the language. (Kings Canyon Unified School District)
Serena Bettis
Published April 23, 2024  • 
10:00 am

REEDLEY – Kings Canyon Unified School District knows that children are the future, and beyond providing them with a quality education, the district has taken to heart its role in celebrating students for who they are and recognizing their academic accomplishments.

As part of that mission, KCUSD is hosting a district-wide Children’s Day event on April 25 that will honor English Learner (EL) students who passed rigorous state exams to achieve proficiency in the language. The celebration, which began in 2017, is also intended to pay tribute to the Mexican holiday of El Día del Niño, which is also celebrated as “Children’s Day” internationally.

Reaching proficiency in the language that their classes are taught in is a big deal for EL students, who make up more than half of the KCUSD student body. Jose Guzman, KCUSD assistant superintendent for business and operational services, said that he was an English learner himself, and going to school while learning a second language is extremely difficult, making it all the more important to celebrate the hard work that goes into reaching proficiency.

“When they celebrate that you were able to gain proficiency … the sense of pride and accomplishment that you as an individual student feel is amazing,” Guzman said. “The looks on kids’ faces, … it’s an amazing feeling; you can’t duplicate that, and so it’s a special event.”

Although each school celebrates its English-proficient students separately throughout the year, Guzman said that this event allows KCUSD to embrace its position as a “truly unified” district and bring everyone together, while also tying in a broader multicultural celebration.

“We’re always looking to showcase our amazing students and our programs, and connect our community with supports in the community,” Guzman said. “We felt that this was a way to marry a lot of our efforts in a district-wide event.”

Guzman said the idea for the KCUSD Children’s Day stemmed from community input gathered through an advisory committee that focuses on supporting EL students and accelerating their acquisition of the language. Ensuring that students have a strong command of English is a top priority for the district, and this is another way it can incentivize students to work toward their language goals.

Further, the event is more than a recognition of reaching proficiency; it serves as a celebration of students becoming bilingual, which is a valuable skill set for students to have as they move into careers and higher education, Guzman said.

“What we hope is that (Children’s Day) not only motivates and inspires those (proficient) students, but for other learners in attendance, it inspires and motivates them to reclassify so they have every opportunity available to them,” Guzman said.

Just as students grow throughout their time at KCUSD, the Children’s Day celebration has grown and evolved. Guzman said that when it began, attendance was not what the district wanted it to be; however, once they moved it from a Saturday to a weekday in 2019 they “saw the potential for this event.”

Guzman said that participation from community partners has “increased tremendously.” More than 50 booths will be set up at the event to provide information to parents about accessing various resources in the community; Guzman said his goal is for community members to walk away from the event knowing what resources are available to them.

Additionally, the district has added performances from students “to showcase the talents of our kids,” and it has coordinated fundraising opportunities with community partners who donate back to the district’s educational foundation, Guzman said.

This year’s celebration will be the sixth Children’s Day event, and the district anticipates an even bigger turnout than last year, which saw more than 2,500 attendees. T.L. Reed School will host the event this year from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.; it is free and open to all KCUSD students and their families.

KCUSD said that the event will include food trucks, crafts, music, prizes and a ceremony to recognize every single student who passed their English proficiency test this past year. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter