Honors language programs under budget stress


Cooper Lake

Painting Masks. Chinese honors society takes a day to paint masks as a group bonding exercise during a club meeting.

Johnathan Geare, staff writer

For over 15 years, CCUSD has been providing world language programs and learning opportunities, starting with Spanish in 2003, and later expanding to Chinese and French by 2016. According to Superintendent Cort Monroe, $2.3 million is invested into the program each year, to ensure that from K-12, students have the opportunity to study a language of their choosing.
“I’ve been learning Chinese since kindergarten. It has expanded my knowledge of the world and society more than any other program,” said Xander Simmons, a sophomore who has been in a foreign language class for 10 years.
The honors language classes expand upon previous material to give students a more in depth study of the language.
“[The students] give presentations based on what they want to talk about in Chinese culture,” said Sophia Barnedo, a senior and president of the Chinese Honors society.
The Honors Society offers the added benefit of providing an opportunity for students to get certified. Members achieve the title by spending a certain number of hours on their presentations and activities involving the club.
“In order to get [hours] you can either come in for tutoring, help out after school, or you can give presentations,” said Barnedo.
Despite the $2.3 million invested annually into the program, as the district budget grows tighter, the honors language programs have had to cut corners in order to be able to offer the opportunities they do. Historically, Chinese 5/6 honors students would attend separate meetings for the honors society, but this past year the circumstances have changed.
Barnedo describes how the Chinese club and Honors Society has been personally affected by the budget constraints, “The Honors Society used to be held in [a separate room], but we had to combine them because there is no [Chinese] language department anymore, it’s just Guo Laoshi.”
Classes have had to be combined, too. Guo Laoshi, the honors Chinese teacher on campus, has the new challenge this year of juggling three different honors classes, all at different steps in the long-sequence curriculum, during the same class period.
“In one [class period], we have AP/IB, Chinese 5, and IB Junior. We only have one Chinese teacher this year, [so] we have to combine those levels together.”
When asked how she manages that kind of class, she said: “I give each group different stuff do to. So when this group is given this task, the other groups are receiving instruction… It is difficult.”
Despite rising budget concerns, Chinese classes are still open for enrollment, and the Chinese club can be joined by all students, no matter which foreign language class they take.