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Aberdeen student makes bi-lingual welcome signs her senior project

Coming soon to Aberdeen – new welcome signs.

The new signs aren’t your typical welcome signs – they have a little something extra on them, thanks to a senior at Aberdeen High School.

“So for my senior project in Aberdeen, we have to do a senior project that is good for the community and it has to be 30 hours,” explained Leonor Serna, who came up with the idea. “For my senior project, I wanted to do something that involved the whole community. Fifty-one percent of Aberdeen is Hispanic and 49 percent is Caucasian. So I wanted to involve the Hispanic population as well as the Caucasian population.”

So she decided to make new welcome signs and have two languages on them. She originally planned on one sign, which would be put on the side of town that didn’t have any welcome signs at all.

After presenting her idea to the city council, they were so enthused, they encouraged her to do two signs – one on each end of the city. So Serna’s project grew.

With the design, coming into Aberdeen, you’ll see “Welcome” and “Bienvenidos.”

Then, as you leave the city, you’ll read, “Thanks for visiting, see you soon.” Below that, “Gracias Por Visitar, Hasta Pronto.”

“What better way to welcome people into Aberdeen? There’s a lot of workers in Aberdeen,” Serna said. “Many VISA workers that come in and work for the farmers there so they are part of the community and they come into Aberdeen so I wanted to make them feel welcome.”

“I felt it was a very good idea,” said Aberdeen mayor Larry Barrett, who is also Serna’s mentor for the project. “I was born and raised in Aberdeen and the Hispanic community has been a real large part of the Aberdeen community. It’s getting larger and larger and when she came up with this idea of the sign, I thought this was probably a very good idea.”

The signs also incorporate some city history into the design.

“It’s going to have the city logo on there which has our water tower, a fish, elk, tractor and potatoes on there,” Serna described. “And it will have the dates 1914, which is the year Aberdeen became a village, and 1941, which is the year it became a city.”

The signs will be 13.5 feet by 9 feet with an illuminated cabinet in the middle that is 5 feet by 5 feet.

Underneath the sign will be hanging plaques. Serna said those are added features. The middle hanging panel would be for the city’s population, which would be removable if it needed to be updated. The remaining two hooks would be to add panels to put “Welcome” in other languages later, if needed or requested.

Barrett said he was shocked at the cost when all was said and done. The original cost for both signs was $26,000 but they were able to cut out several features and size and go to $16,000.

Serna said the Aberdeen Rotary Club has offered to donate some money to help fund the signs and she’s hoping they can make up the rest of the money in community donations. She said not only will it help get the signs made, but it will really be a community project and a community effort. Serna wrote a letter and made a copy of the sign design to take around to residents.

Serna and Barrett said they’re hoping to have the signs in by April. Barrett said if they can’t come up with enough money, they may have to consider going back to one sign. But Serna is hopeful the community will come through.

Donations can be dropped off at the city offices or mailed to:
City of Aberdeen
P.O. Box 190
Aberdeen, Idaho 83210

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