Diana Lopez Luna will graduate from Ventura High School able to read, write and speak fluently in both English and Spanish. She got a head start speaking Spanish at home, but it was the Ventura Unified School District’s Two-Way Immersion (TWI) program that let her perfect her skills in both languages.
Starting in elementary school, TWI students get half of their instruction in English and half in Spanish. “I’m really grateful my parents put me in the program because it was helpful not just to know how to speak Spanish, but also to read it and write it,” she says.
This year, Diana took fourth place in the statewide Spanish Spelling Bee at Azusa Pacific University. She says mastering Spanish spelling is just as tricky as it is in English, but for different reasons. “In English, sometimes the way you say a word isn’t the way you spell it, and in Spanish there are things like accents and double letters, so they both have their challenges.”
Diana also distinguished herself at Ventura High School as a leader in volunteering for the less fortunate. Through the city of Ventura’s Teen Voice program, she helped with campaigns to provide Thanksgiving gift baskets to families in need and hygiene care packages for the homeless. She also helped collect food and supplies for the Canine Adoption and Rescue League in Ventura.
Diana will be the first person in her family to attend college. She plans to start at Ventura College and ultimately transfer to UC Santa Cruz. She credits her English teacher Terri Withers-Schroeder for getting her involved in the AVID program that helps underrepresented students prepare for college. She also thanks her parents who immigrated to the United States to give her a life they never had. “It makes me really proud to see all the hard work they did to give me the opportunities I have now.”