A partnership between Hope College and the Holland Christian and Zeeland Public schools will enable high school students in the two systems to continue studies in Spanish that they have been pursuing since kindergarten.
The Spanish Immersion Continuation Program will be available to students at Holland Christian High School and Zeeland High Schools who participated in the K-8 Spanish immersion program at Zeeland Christian School and because of their exceptional language proficiency have topped out of the options available to them at the high schools.
It’s a model that could be expanded in the future to include additional area school systems with Spanish immersion programs.
“We value serving as a resource for the community,” said William Vanderbilt, who is vice president for admissions at Hope. “We’re excited to be partnering with Holland Christian and Zeeland Public to serve their students, and are hopeful that this program can meet others’ needs in the future as well.”
The first 25 students who were in the Zeeland Christian K-8 program, who now attend the Holland Christian or Zeeland Public school systems, will be in the 11th grade next year. Starting with the fall 2016 semester, they will have the option of enrolling in upper-level Spanish classes at the college, receiving college credit as well as high school credit.
“We are honored and thankful to collaborate with Hope College,” said Calvin De Kuiper, superintendent of Zeeland Public Schools. “Strong partnerships are critical to launching a successful new program.”
“Providing a continuation program at Hope College is an amazing opportunity for our Spanish immersion students,” De Kuiper said. “Hope’s faculty and academic coursework will build a solid foundation for learning and post-secondary success.”
"We are thankful that our students can benefit from the knowledgeable faculty and academic coursework at Hope College,” he said. “It is an amazing opportunity and we are honored to be a part of this exciting program."
Dan Meester, superintendent of Holland Christian Schools, noted, “At Holland Christian High School, we are blessed with a population of students who have dedicated themselves to mastering the Spanish language, and we believe those students are equipping themselves to ‘transform the world for Jesus Christ’ in accordance with our mission. The opportunity to continue that learning in a college setting is a real benefit to our students—both while they are in high school and when they pursue their learning after they graduate.”
“Partnering with Hope College made sense for us due to its local campus, its willingness and flexibility to try something new, and the value Hope provides for our students and their families,” Meester said.
Based on the recommendation of their high school guidance counselors and performance on a standardized preliminary exam, the students can choose to enroll in the college’s 400-level Hispanic Linguistics course meeting at Hope on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2 p.m. Although the section has been scheduled just for them, it will feature the same material as another section being held for Hope students in the morning. It will be taught by Dr. Daniel Woolsey, associate professor of Spanish at Hope, who is a specialist in foreign language education and classroom second language acquisition.
Students who do well in the program will have the option of choosing from among several of the college’s upper-level courses that will also meet at 2 p.m. during the spring semester and the following school year, learning alongside the advanced Hope students who will also be enrolled. By the time that they graduate from high school, they could have completed four college courses in Spanish, totaling 16 credits, that will either reflect progress toward a Hope degree or could be transferred to another institution.
“The strength of this program is that in principle they should all be taking 300- and 400-level courses and should be well on their way to a major or minor in Spanish regardless of where they go,” Woolsey said. “What we hope, though, is to encourage these students, even if they’re not majoring in Spanish, to continue to use it in college in internships or whatever else they might do and to realize that their proficiency in the language opens up doors for them in whatever profession they choose to pursue.”