SOUTH BEND — In collaboration with the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies and the Alliance for Catholic Education, Holy Cross School is launching a Spanish-English immersion program this fall at the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten levels.
The school will host a program open house for the public from 5 to 7 p.m. March 15. During this event, parents and children can explore the new program, enjoy homemade tamales and learn about registration.
Around the country, a growing number of schools are beginning programs of two-way immersion. In the two-way immersion model, children from two distinct languages come together to form a learning community in which each benefits from the others’ linguistic and cultural assets. This approach also has shown significant academic benefits due to children using more of their brain, as well as increased interpersonal skills.
Two academic leaders from the University of Notre Dame are helping Holy Cross School in the launch of the immersion track. Dr. Katy Lichon, of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and English as a New Language Program, specializes in language acquisition; and Dr. Luis Fraga of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame is an expert in the effect of two-way immersion on school communities.
According to Fraga, Holy Cross School is poised to become a regional pioneer in Catholic education.
“What better way to build intercultural communities of respect and understanding consistent with the Gospel and the call of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops? Two-way immersion programs capture the growing diversity of our Catholic communities to build educational opportunities that strengthen our Catholic schools and serve the church for generations to come.”
Each year, the immersion track will add one grade level as the cohorts move through primary school. Holy Cross will continue to offer its current traditional track, which also has recently received significant recognition. At the preschool and pre-kindergarten level, Holy Cross is in the final stages of becoming the first area Catholic school eligible to receive Indiana Early Childhood Development funds. At the kindergarten level, teacher Ashley Parmelee was just recognized with a Light of Learning Award by the Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend.
Moving forward, Principal Angela Budzinski sees the two tracks working well together. “Students in the traditional track will also receive additional Spanish language enrichment,” she noted. “Students in the immersion track will benefit from the strength of Holy Cross’s current curriculum.”
At the March 15 open house, both tracks will be featured. Teachers from a Catholic school in Holland, Mich., with a two-way immersion track will be present.
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