Dual immersion students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Students at Longfellow Elementary School in Eau Claire celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a parade Friday afternoon.

The students who marched in the parade, that moved indoors due to weather, are part of a special program the school offers.

That program is the dual immersion program, and it’s a new teaching method where the instructor incorporates Spanish into their curricula.

“Today in class, we were talking about how so many people around the world speak languages ​​other than English. And if kids ever want to travel somewhere, they need to be able to communicate,” said Kerry Benedict, who teaches 2nd grade for the school’s dual immersion program.

“It’s been great. The kids seem to love learning another language. They’re very proud that they can do things in two languages. And we have a lot of families from around the area that want to be a part of the program,” said Benedict.

The program is in its fourth year now, starting off with just a kindergarten class and expanding now into 3rd grade.

Carlos Ricard has a son in the program, who he has transferred from a private school.

“We heard about the program years ago… when it became available we were obviously on the list and thankfully we got the thumbs up,” said Ricard.

Principal Sarah Fisher says the school tries to have 12 English speaking and 12 Spanish speaking students per class in the program, and she says there are currently 75 students enrolled in the program total. That is out of the 280 students that attend Longfellow.

The school is always looking for Spanish speaking students to join the program. Since there is a high volume of English speaking students applying for the program, Fisher says there is a different process for selecting them.

“On our district website, there’s a lottery that has its own little site and then there’s an annual lottery. So parents enter. If they’re interested, they enter. And then we do a drawing and list everybody out in order of how they’re drawn,” said Fisher.

“Sometimes I speak English better than Spanish… sometimes I speak Spanish better than English,” said Hector Ramirez, one of the many students enrolled in the dual immersion program.

Mileydi Arita says in Spanish she is still trying to learn English.

And when asked in Spanish what day it was, Carter Goss says in English, “I don’t know? Friday.”

The teachers say its hard work but for them its worth it.

If you are interested in applying for the dual immersion program, click here.

And you can click here for more information on the program.

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