By: Lia Bradley
ELL Specialist at Dickinson High School
We are living in a time of great migration from South American countries to the United States due to the lack of security and economic crisis. Such is the case of Erick Silva’s family, who came to Dickinson in 2022 for a better way of life. Erick grew up in Honduras, where he attended school and where his love of music began.
Erick explains that in Honduras, he was a shy and unmotivated student who didn’t have a lot of friends. School seemed like a boring routine, and he couldn’t wait to get home to be in his room and practice the ukulele. Erick states, “I used to practice in my ukulele 5 to 6 hours a day”. Erick not only spent his time in his music but, without knowing it, also developed his English skills, immersing himself in English movies, videos, and music.
When he arrived at DHS, he was screened for English proficiency and identified as an ELL student, but his score was quite high. Dickinson Public Schools has adopted the immersion method for ELL students, and Erick has flourished. He was immediately mainstreamed into a regular schedule and English class. Currently, he is a candidate for the Gold Seal of Biliteracy as he scored as high as 19 on the English section of the ACT. The Seal of Biliteracy is a recognition given to bilingual students for having met criteria in both English and their home language. The Seal gets placed on their diploma upon graduation.
We also tried incorporating music classes into his schedule since we learned of his love of music. The goal of our immersion program is that students will assimilate into the American culture and community. Such is the case of Erick, here at DHS, he has made many friends who share his love for music and has taken advantage of every opportunity to develop his gift. Mrs. Olson (music teacher) has been instrumental in helping him achieve his potential.
According to Mrs. Olson, here are some of Erick’s accomplishments in the music department: While at DHS, Erick has shown great interest in any opportunity that is ahead of him when it comes to music. At DHS, Erick is a part of the DHS Symphonic Band and plays saxophone; he is in drumline, jazz band, DHS A Cappella Choir, and Symphonic Choir. Since Erick has been here, he has auditioned to be in many different honor festivals. He has also performed solos at the band and choir WDA Music Festivals. This year alone, he has auditioned and made it to the Northern Plains Music Festival, Northwest Music Festival, and UND Honor Choir. At the beginning of January, he auditioned to be in the All-State Choir, and he was selected to be in the All State Mixed Honor Choir.
Erick has not only been a part of Mrs. Olson’s choir programs, but he has also been a part of several of Mr. Goettle's programs. It’s amazing to note that Mr. Goettle taught Erick how to play the saxophone in such a short time. Erick also joined the drumline and the jazz band. Needless to say, both Mrs. Olson and Mr. Goettle have influenced Erick in such a way that he now wants to make a career out of music and is pursuing a music scholarship at various universities.
Erick’s love for music and dedication have met with two excellent instructors who have paved the way for this young man’s dream to come true. A lot of credit is also due to all the teachers and paraprofessionals at DHS who have helped him develop. Erick’s story is an example to all Newcomer EL students that dreams can come true with passion and dedication.