Families like Spanish immersion classes in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Habla espanol? Kindergarteners at Valinda Academy and Los Altos Elementary do.

The tykes are just finishing their first year in the new Spanish immersion program in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. In addition to their ABCs and numbers, these 5-year-olds learned Spanish.

“My son Daniel didn’t speak a word of Spanish when he started,” said parent Daniel Caccam. “And he just won third place in the Spanish spelling bee.”

The proud parent said his son really likes the Spanish immersion class. They’ll continue next year as the school district adds Spanish to a first grade in both schools.

“We use a 90/10 formula, with the class instruction in Spanish 90 percent of the time and 10 percent in English,” explained Valinda Principal Elizabeth Bermejo.

Every year, English is gradually increased until instructional time reaches half English and half Spanish in the fourth through sixth grades.

Sandra Felix’s son, Raymond Anthony Gomez, did even better in the spelling bee, taking second place.

“He loves the Spanish class, now we even watch the news in Spanish,” said the happy mother, who plans to also enroll her 4-year-old daughter Emily in the dual immersion program.

Los Altos Principal Rosie Sinapi thinks so much of the program, that’s she has enrolled her own daughter in the Spanish class.

“The dual language program stimulates a child’s cognitive, social and linguistic development,” Sinapi noted.

The parents’ enthusiasm encouraged school board members Gino Kwok and Jay Chen. Kwok experienced some resistance from parents at first about the Spanish immersion class.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SPANISH.

Help Los Altos Elementary get a community garden grant in Hacienda Heights

Los Altos Elementary wants everyone to vote for them in the Seeds of Change competition on-line at www.seedsofchangegrant.com.

The organic seed company based in Rancho Dominguez donates 1 percent of its net sales toward sustainable organic farming initiatives worldwide. This year, it is awarding $190,000 in grants to community or school gardens.

In its grant application, the Hacienda Heights school said it would like to hold community events in the garden, where it would teach kids and families about healthy eating.

In addition, the school wants to show kids students what sustainability means. They’d show kids how to help the environment by composting and recycling.

The school has started a small garden club. It would like to do even more by adding an outside gate so community members can access the garden. They would add an area for residents to garden during the summer.

To vote for Los Altos Elementary, go to www.seedsofchangegrant.com. The voting period ends on April 21 and you may vote once a day.