Spanish immersion program moves to ninth grade this fall

by Austin Dart/ausdart20@pceagles.org

Starting with the 2020-21 school year, PCHS will have a Spanish Immersion (SI) program to accommodate the incoming freshmen who have been in the program throughout grade school.

Although taking Spanish 1-4 in high school is helpful for most, incoming freshmen who have been through SI already know the content of these classes. “Students will come into the ninth grade with a higher fluency than you will get in any high school level track,” said vice principal Greg Wojczynski. “This is a way for students to gain fluency in a second language at the same time going through their regular coursework.”

Along with higher fluency come other great benefits, too. “Spanish Immersion is another way that PCHS can prepare students to be college and/or career ready, but more importantly for service in God’s world,” said K-12 SI director Rebecca Gomez. “Spanish Immersion helps to better prepare people to work in God’s creation by allowing them to communicate with a larger number of people than they would be able to reach if they were not bilingual.”

Along with learning a second language, students also gain a broader perspective on the world, according to Gomez.  “(SI) also opens students’ eyes in different ways to the diversity within God’s creation and helps to create in them the global empathy so valuable in our interconnected world,” she said.

Gomez seemed to be the perfect person for this job, having experience as the SI director at the grade school as well as a certificate in Dual Language and Immersion Education. Beyond her technical criteria, she also enjoys the job. “I took this position because immersion education is something that I’m passionate about, and I love working with students and teachers,” said Gomez.

While this is a wonderful opportunity for the school, it carries some hardships as well. “There have been difficulties finding the right staff and in deciding which courses to offer as part of the immersion program,” said Gomez. “I’m so thankful that the high school staff has been willing to collaborate and to be creative so as to offer students the time and intensity that they need in the Spanish language.”

While finding the right staff has been difficult, it was finally done. The high school has hired Maestra Loida Martínez to be the SI teacher, however it is yet another complication to get her to the United States, as she is from Spain.

COVID-19 has further complicated the process, and the school hopes for her arrival before school starts. The administrative team has been working on a Plan B in the event Martínez does not arrive in time.

SI students will not have every class in Spanish, but will have three daily classes being taught in Spanish: two semesters of World History and Spanish Language and Literature, and one semester each of Health and Computer Apps, according to Wojczynski.

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