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New dual language school starts

CHAMPAIGN -- Many families are thinking about which school to choose for their soon-to-be kindergarteners.
CHAMPAIGN -- Many families are thinking about which school to choose for their soon-to-be kindergarteners. They'll have a new option next year. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has our Classroom Connection.

The district is starting a dual-language grade school. District leaders say they need more classrooms for their young students. This grade school will give them the chance to fill that need and change the way some students learn.

Grade schools are usually the place to learn ABC's and 123's, but soon, some students will have a whole new language to master. The International Prep Academy will become the twelfth elementary school in Champaign's district. Maria Alanis will be its new principal.

"Our goals are bilingualism, bi-culturalism and bi-literacy; meaning that students can read and write in two languages."

Students are already following a similar model at Robeson and Garden Hills. They're transitioning from mostly-Spanish to mostly-English lessons.

"By third grade, it's 50-50. By fifth grade, it's 80% of instruction in English, 20% in Spanish."

But, this new school will be different. Each student will spend half his or her time learning in each language.

"Our own language and culture is our greatest strength and our greatest contribution to our local community, but also to our global community."

Half the students will be native-English speakers. The other half will come from a Latino background.

"Each student maintains their home language, but adds a second language to be bilingual."

Students from Robeson's kindergarten and 1st grade program will move to the academy. New kindergarteners will start in the fall, so as students grow, so will the school.

"I think it's going to unite this community and empower our community here in Champaign as a whole."

The academy will share the old Carrie Busey building with Kenwood in the fall and the Garden Hills program will continue there. 

For more info about dual language program, click here. For more info about signing up for schools of choice, click here.
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