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Language academy summer camps give students glimpse of the world
Tyler Bowling tries to hold on to a marshmallow with chopsticks Monday during a Mandarin Chinese class at the World Language Academy. - photo by Tom Reed

New students of Hall County school system’s first charter school got their first glimpse Monday of the World Language Academy at Chestnut Mountain.

Kindergartners and first-graders gathered at the World Language Academy, located on the site of the old Chestnut Mountain Elementary School, to meet the teachers who soon will teach classes in English and Spanish.

Principal David Moody said the school will open Aug. 7 with kindergartners and first-graders learning in a dual-language environment. He said he expects about 200 of the 400 students enrolled at the academy this fall to attend the voluntary summer camp session.

Moody said the summer camps, which kindergartners and first-graders attended Monday and will attend today, provide students an introduction to the new learning environment they will enter full-time this fall.

Since the school is the county’s first school of choice, the camps also will allow students the opportunity to meet their new classmates, who will come from all across Hall County.

Second- through fifth-graders will attend the academy summer camp Wednesday morning.

"We’re going to play around with the language, sing some songs," Moody said. "The number one goal is to meet staff, see the building and learn some basic language skills. We just want them to feel as comfortable as possible the first day of school."

At the academy, Spanish will not be taught as a second language, but will be integrated into students’ daily lessons, Moody said.

Carrie Woodcock, dual-language coordinator for the academy, said students aren’t the only ones new to the concept.

"We have a new staff, so everyone is coming to a new setting," Woodcock said. "We want students to come in and meet their peers and teachers before they get focused on the academic world. Hopefully, they’ll see this school is going to be a place to learn and a great place to have fun."

While kindergartners and first-graders will delve into the dual-language curriculum this fall, World Language Academy students in second- through fifth-grade will receive two hours of daily Spanish language instruction. Next year, the dual-language program, where students are immersed in both languages, will expand to include kindergartners through second-graders.

By 2012, all academy students will be taught the curriculum according to the Georgia Performance standards in a dual-language program.

Woodcock said a teacher from Hong Kong will be teaching students Mandarin Chinese.

Moody said the school aims to turn out students who can speak two, if not three, languages. He said he believes the dual-language program will give its young students a boost when they enter the professional world.