Saugus Chinese program to continue for future students

Saugus High School.

Nearly three months after Saugus High School officials announced an end to the school’s Chinese language program, Principal Vince Ferry stated that the program will now continue for students currently enrolled in the foreign language.

“Because there has been some anxiety about plans for the immediate future, I want to confirm that Saugus High School will offer Mandarin Chinese II, Mandarin Chinese III and AP Chinese Language as foreign language options in the 2018-19 school year,” Ferry wrote in an email to parents last week.

The school also plans to offer Mandarin Chinese III and AP Chinese Language, and potentially additional classes, to students during the following school year to “ensure that all students already in the program have the opportunity to complete their course of study.”

The decision comes shortly after parents of students enrolled in the program rallied together and voiced their concerns about the program’s end at the Feb. 28 William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board meeting.

At the meeting, six speakers spoke before board President Steve Sturgeon announced that the board would work with the Hart district administration to continue the program.

“The district will take action and direction to determine how we can continue this program,” Sturgeon said to parents and students at the Feb. 28 meeting.

Now, the school and district is looking at freshmen interest in the program to determine if it will offer Mandarin 1 in the upcoming school year.

“We are planning to generate an interest list of incoming ninth-grade students who would like to take Mandarin Chinese as their foreign language,” Ferry wrote in his email. “As with any program, this course of study is dependent upon a large enough cohort of students to justify assigning multiple sections to the master schedule.”

With this news, parents and students returned to the following Hart Governing Board meeting Wednesday to plea with the board and the administration to give them time to increase these freshmen enrollment numbers.

“I ask that you give us two years exemption of enrollment numbers to promote the program,” parent Vera Peterson said at the meeting. “Just imagine what a few motivated parents and fired up kids can do if given the chance.”

Others asked the school to hold informational meetings about the program, like the school did for AP Euro History, and for counselors to promote the foreign language during their meetings with students.

One Saugus High School student said she and her fellow students went to Arroyo Seco Junior High School campaigned for the program this week. They found that 150 students were interested in the program and 25 eighth grade students planned to sign up for Mandarin I next year.

“We will continue the Mandarin program for those currently in it for certain and they are currently evaluating and gathering areas of interest for students, freshmen, entering Mandarin 1,” Sturgeon said during the Wednesday board meeting. “I think the students really demonstrate the passion that they have. It is the students’ passion that will increase the likability of the program and interest of the program for their peers.”

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