NEWS Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 880 S. Lemon Avenue
August 26, 2011 Walnut, CA 91789
Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204
New Dual Language Program Begins at Walnut Elementary
Kindergarteners Play “Find the Gingerbread Man”
WALNUT, CA--On the first day of school, Walnut Elementary dual language kindergarten students decorated cute little gingerbread men.
The youngsters in Ms. Carol Lin’s class colored cookie faces and button shirts. But the very next day, the sneaky little gingerbread men ran away - just like in the popular story!
All week, the children searched for the little paper guys around the campus.
Each day during their hunt that also served as a school tour, they met staff members.
And they always asked if the wayward gingerbread men had been spotted.
“No, but I did see a dog,” said custodian Steve Ruvalcava.
“No, but I did see a cow,” said office manager Julie Charlton.
These are just two of the people that will be important during their days and years at the school.
On Friday, August 26, students visited Principal Janet Green’s office. She found all gingerbread men hiding on a shelf and returned them to the delighted youngsters.
They gathered around the school leader admiring their artwork.
“Mine even has eyelashes!” exclaimed one girl.
This year, 48 kindergarten students are participants in the District’s first official cohort dual language program.
Last year, a pilot pre-kindergarten program launched as preview of dual immersion for families.
These kindergarteners are part of the first official group that will study both Mandarin and English – with the goal to become literate in both by the fifth grade.
The program called Global Connections – Creating 21st Century Biliterate/Bicultural Children,” was funded with a $1.2 million, five-year federal Foreign Language Acquisition Program grant.
Students in the full-day program are receiving 50/50 instruction in Mandarin and English, said program specialist Jenny Kwan-Hata.
Many of the students know the language, but they don’t speak it at home, she said.
The district also plans to provide some online support for parents who don’t speak Mandarin so that they can help their children with their schoolwork.
Next week, teachers will begin posting Chinese lessons on-line so that parents can view at home, she said.
The program utilizes technology, with each student getting his or her own Netbook.
“A lot of our parents are really forward thinking,” she said. “They are already looking ahead to 21st century career opportunities.
The program is full for this year and has a small waiting list, she said. And an interest list for the next two years has already formed.
Studies have proven the cognitive benefits of being bilingual and biliterate, she said.
Loyola Marymount University will be evaluating the program, studying data provided as the students advance.
“When they are called as a cohort at the high school graduation, it is going to just be amazing,” she said.
Dual language students are excited to see that Principal Janet Green found the missing gingerbread men.
Principal Janet Green with kindergartener Breanna Bongcaras.