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IRC in Charlottesville Recognizes Refugee Students' Achievements

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The IRC in Charlottesville held its annual student recognition event at the Central Library on Tuesday, June 11.  IRC staff reached out to the city and county schools to solicit nominations for the end of year awards.  English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers submit nominations for students who have shown significant progress, practiced good citizenship or have been role models for their classmates.  Nineteen students were recognized for their achievements this year including significant progress in math or reading, expanding their vocabulary and even learning to read Braille.

Students pose after receiving their awards Photo: Monte Hackney/IRC

“The families and the students appreciate having the time to reflect on the year and be recognized for the progress they’ve made and the positive accomplishments during the school year,” says IRC School Specialist, Monte Hackney.  “It is an opportunity to recognize the collective achievements of the teachers, students, and parents for the past year.”

The IRC contracts with the Virginia Department of Social Services Office of Newcomers Services (ONS) to provide liaison services to help families and schools work together to support refugee students.  “Refugee children’s access to formal education varies widely during their displacement.  Newly-arriving students are eager to learn English, make friends, and catch up to their peers,” says Hackney.

In addition to the awards, students and their families enjoyed a presentation from Angela Critics, Children’s Services Coordinator at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Central Branch.  She informed families of the many summer programs the library offers to the community, including the summer reading challenge, for which worksheets are available in English, Spanish, and now Dari.  Elissa Milanowski, Program Consultant for ONS, also recognized the families for their commitment to their students’ success.

The event was attended by more than 65 people.  Interpreters for Arabic, Dari, Swahili and Kinyarwanda were present to help parents fully participate in the ceremony. Local restaurants Taste of India and Mezeh contributed food to the event.

You can help support refugee students in Charlottesville by donating backpacks and school supplies.  The IRC helps newly-arriving refugee students enroll in school throughout the year so we are always in need of these items.  Check our wishlist for a full listing of items needed and drop-off hours.