East Aurora elementary schools add Spanish, more PE

 
 
Updated 3/4/2019 11:45 PM

Students in East Aurora District 131 elementary schools will have a new class in the fall: Spanish/world language.

The school board voted 6-0 Monday to add the class, which will be taught three times a week, for 30 minutes per session.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Students will also spend more time exercising, as the board increased gym class to three 30-minute sessions a week, up from two. The state has mandated districts offer gym three days a week.

Music education was spared, at least for the 2019-20 school year. The board's curriculum committee had considered cutting that in half, to just one 30-minute session a week.

Music, physical education and the Spanish/world language classes are called "specials" topics.

No changes were made for other specials. Art remains a once-a-week, 60-minute class, and technology a once-a-week 30-minute class.

Eliseo Martinez, a music educator at Bardwell Elementary, told the board that music is important to students. He cited his experience as an East Aurora student, particularly in high school. "Yes, I also took advanced courses in history, language arts, humanities and calculus, but those aren't necessarily the classes that motivated me to come to school every day," he said.

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He said he struggled belong as a poor, third-generation Latino who didn't speak Spanish, was bullied and was figuring out how to deal with being gay, he said.

"The place that I felt most at home was in the fine arts wing, and particularly in my music classes. ... It was those experiences that allowed me to feel a sense of self and prepared me to receive scholarships," he said.

Board member Kenneth Darby described himself as a "big advocate" for music instruction. He cited the addition of a wing for music and fine arts instruction at East Aurora High in 2018.

"Music does a lot for kids, so it is a big benefit for their well-being. I will always be an advocate for music in our district and how it has grown," he said.

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