School district seeing influx of students from Honduras

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - About two months ago, Javier* joined Bay District Schools.

"Before the hurricane, we had totally in the district 913 students that English was not their first language. After the hurricane, we've been tracking that weekly and we're up to now 814 so almost 100 students less," Sally Gentili, ESOL Instructional Specialist of Bay District Schools, said.

District officials said 87 of those students have come from Honduras.

"Just since the beginning of the school year, 40 of those have entered this school year, but 27 have come just since Hurricane Michael," Gentili said.

Just as we're familiar with overcoming adversity, Javier has faced some obstacles moving to a new country.

He said, with the help of interpreter Patty Engle, it's been difficult adjusting to a new school.

"We have newcomer programs in some of our schools and that's where we try to get these students and that's where they're just immersed in English language," Gentili said.

Bay District Schools officials said some of their new students have made harrowing journeys to come to our area, however, the district does not have enough resources to help them.

"We never have enough of bilingual paras, in fact, we have several schools right now that have vacancies in that capacity," Gentili said.

Despite this, district employees said there's something we can do to help that doesn't cost anything and is understood universally.

Engle said, "Being kind, a smile would go a long way and that's all they need."

*For privacy purposes and for the purpose of this story, his family and Bay District Schools asked us to use a pseudonym for the child.