Language achievement honored


Last updated 11/7/2023 at 12:56pm

Photo by Jim Cornelius

Olivia Trotter and Mariana Luna were honored for their work achieving English language proficiency at the Sisters School Board meeting November 1. They were each presented with an Avanza Award.

The word avanza in Spanish means to move forward, progress, or to advance.

The Sisters School District celebrated that forward progress at the monthly school board meeting on Wednesday, November 1, honoring Olivia Trotter and Mariana Luna for their demonstration of high levels of proficiency in English listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The students are also successful in their core content classes.

Trotter and Luna each received a certificate and a $100 gift certificate to mark the Avanza Award. Then they, their families, and local supporters celebrated with cake.

The Avanza Award is designed to honor students with any non-English first language who acquire English language skills at a level that allows them to "graduate" from the English language learners program. The students have developed language skills comparable to native speakers.

Trotter is of Norwegian descent and Luna is of Mexican descent.

Community member Wendy Birnbaum noted that each student continues to speak their native language and enjoy the traditions of their culture, even as they master the English language. The students have become truly bilingual.

Bruce and Marleen Rognlien of Sisters are key founding supporters of the Avanza Award, believing that developing English language skills is a key element of future success for children.

Sisters Elementary School Principal Joan Warburg noted that Trotter, a first grader, and Luna, a fifth grader, have achieved proficiency exceptionally quickly, as it typically takes five to seven years of study to achieve proficiency. Both students have officially met the Oregon state criteria to exit the English Learners program.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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