Senior student translators hope to continue legacy


Alexis Soriano

Pictured (left to right): Student translators Jerry Viloria, Theia Belle Sophia Ulep, Anna Monica Paguirigan, and Cherry Mae Abuyo

Kimberly Murphy

For years, English Learners Program Coordinator Jeremiah Brown thought about leveraging Waipahu High School students’ and community members’ foreign language skills to improve communication. 

In fall 2021, Brown created the student translator program. “We have many students that speak multiple languages who can do translations to help us better communicate with parents and students,” Brown says. 

Seniors Cherry Mae Abuyo, Theia Belle Sophia Ulep, Jerry Viloria, and Anna Monica Sakura Paguirigan volunteer to translate different materials for the school. So far, they have helped translate report card comments, prom announcements, COVID vaccine announcements, and more for students and families. 

Brown says, “I’d like to focus on projects like [these] where it’s reusable and has a wide impact.”

Abuyo and Ulep translate requests into Tagalog and Ilocano. While they were taking the Seal of Biliteracy test, Brown reached out to them to ask if they were interested in becoming student translators. “I said yes because I wanted to help the community, especially the students and parents,” Ulep says.

Brown receives translation requests, which he posts into a two-column chart for the translators in Google Classroom. The student translators then type their translations in the right column of the chart. After the requests are translated, the messages are proofread and sent out. Parents may receive the translations through flyers, email, or a translated messaging app called Talking Points. Parents interested in receiving Talking Points messages can sign up here. Messages are available in English, Tagalog, Spanish, Samoan and Vietnamese. Messages are sent in Chuukese, Ilokano, and Marshallese when possible. 

Brown and the student translators have many hopes for expanding the program in the future. They hope to provide translations in more languages such as Chuukese, Marshallese, and Samoan, and translate documents for new students such as instructions for setting up Infinite Campus accounts or borrowing school laptops.

Abuyo hopes that students will translate more information about school events: “More students will participate in the events in the school if everyone understood. I know some people don’t really understand because of the language barrier.”

Brown also hopes that student translators may be able to earn volunteer hours, a stipend, or certification in the future.

All of the current student translators are going to graduate this year, so there is a need for new translators. Students interested in becoming translators next year may fill out this form, and parents and community members interested in helping with translations may fill out this form