More than 100 kindergarten students at Woodland Primary School in Gages Lake began learning in two languages as part of a new program that started Thursday.
Students who made it into the program through a lottery will receive instruction for half of their days in English and the other half in Spanish. Primary school Principal Stacey Anderson said the children will be in the dual-language program through fifth grade.
"I think that we all value the second language acquisition and we realize that learning about another culture and just making sure that everyone has that second language opportunity was really important to parents in our community, knowing it's such a benefit," Anderson said during a break in a primary school hallway.
Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 joins a smattering of suburban systems with dual-language programs. The list includes Hawthorn Elementary District 73 in Vernon Hills, Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 in Arlington Heights and Elgin Area School District U-46.
At Woodland Primary School, half of the children in the dual-language program are native Spanish speakers and the other half are English speakers. Anderson said 114 of roughly 600 students at the school are enrolled in the inaugural program.
In the classroom, a Spanish-speaking teacher will handle language arts and math. An English-speaking teacher will provide corresponding language arts lessons, along with social studies.
Science units will be shared by Spanish- and English-speaking instructors.
Kindergarten students received directions about proper lunchroom behavior in English and Spanish on their first day of school Thursday.
Reese Divis was among the children excited to be in the program, already demonstrating how she can recite some numbers in Spanish.
Primary schoolteacher Rian Bogdala said she's happy to be part of the dual-language effort.
"It's going to be challenging and very rewarding to see all of our students learn two languages this year," Bogdala said.