District now receives emails in respective languages


Sarah Hibberd

The high school began sending out emails in the native languages of parents and students. A new application, Bright Arrow, allows them to translate the messages in Powerschool.

The high school began sending out emails in the native languages of parents and students through a new application in Powerschool that allows them to translate the messages. Although the application made its first appearance in May, students are only recently discovering the change.

“At the end of last year, they added Bright Arrow,” registrar and PEIMS coordinator Laura Hobbs said. “Bright Arrow is the messaging system where we can mass send emails or text messages to students and their parents. It extracts their information that’s in Powerschool and allows us to send out information to the students, teachers, parents or everyone if we wanted to.”

When students enroll in school, they are required to fill out a home language survey. It asks what language is spoken in the house and what language the student speaks most of the time.

“If the one spoken in your home is something different, then we have the capability to click a button and have the email sent in their home language,” Hobbs said. “We don’t always do that, but we have the option to.”

Many students have received emails meant to be translated in their native language. The system automatically translates the messages, however, some of the emails have text inconsistencies or mistranslations. 

“I received an email in Chinese for the first time last week,” senior Michelle Wu said. “It was correct and I was able to read it, but there are just a few inconsistencies where, for example, at the start of the pep walk email, the word cross country was in Chinese. Then at the end, it would just say cross country instead of what the word was in Chinese.” 

Senior Elijah Varghese, whose native language is Malayalam, also received an email regarding the pep walk. Varghese described it as both confusing and impressive.

“Upon initially viewing the email, I thought it was a glitch and my phone had somehow translated the email,” Varghese said. “I was confused because, as far as I knew, we had never provided the district with information of our native language. I was impressed because Malayalam is such a small language that it is often hard to find it, let alone translate it.”

Many students had received an iteration of the pep walk email but in English, making the second email reception a surprise. 

“Upon talking with other people, who I knew spoke other languages, I learned that others had received the email in their native languages as well,” Varghese said. “However, unlike my email, due to the lack of equal words, the emails were not translated correctly. Furthermore, their parents also speak and understand English, hence the lack of concern for interest in translated emails.”