Photo by Ty Swenson
Holy Family School Principal Frank Cantwell in front of the school located at 9615 20th Ave SW. Starting in September, the West Seattle/White Center school will start a Spanish Language and Latino Culture Program for their students.

Holy Family unveiling Spanish Language and Latino Culture Program for 2012-2013 school year

Holy Family School, where West Seattle and White Center meet, has significant changes to their curriculum starting next school year as a Spanish Language and Latino Culture Program kicks off to split the days: half in English and half in Spanish.

The progam starts next year with the pre-school (three year olds), pre-kindergarten (four year olds) and kindergarten (fiver years old) kids learning reading, writing and math in English along with reading, writing and social studies in Spanish, according to Holy Family Principal Frank Cantwell. Each year the program will expand another grade until all kids, from pre-school to 8th grade are learning in a split language environment.

“Our school is 43 percent Latino,” Cantwell said, “and with the Latino students a lot of them speak Spanish at home, but they do not read or write it at home. If they can learn to read and write Spanish properly then it will transfer over to English easily, so this will be a big help for our Latino population.”

For the school’s non-Latino population, Cantwell sees the new direction as an opportunity to become fluent in a language that will become more and more useful as the makeup of the United States population continues to evolve. As of 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reports the country’s Latino population at 16 percent. The Pew Research Center predicts that population will rise to 29 percent by 2050.

By incorporating Spanish language with Latino culture, Cantwell also hopes to create open-minded students.

“Language kind of bonds people when you think of it, and automatically with language comes culture,” he said. “It will help bond, with the example of our school being 50/50 with Latinos and non-Latinos; I think these kids are going to grow up without prejudice against other faiths, religions and races.”

Into the future, Cantwell believes his students will have a leg up going into high school. He said research has shown children fluent in two languages do better in all-around school performance, including standardized tests.

Starting next year, Cantwell said grades one through four will study academic subjects in English, but an hour each day will be devoted to Spanish language and Latino culture instruction.

Non- parishioners of the Holy Family Church can attend the school, but there is a 30 percent increase in tuition.

Cantwell said he offers tours of the school and a chance for prospective students to join a classroom for the day if parents are interested. For more information, contact the Holy Family Parish School at 206-767-6640 or visit their website.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.