Jenison parents queue a day early for Spanish immersion

Jenison, Center for the Arts, Spanish immersion program
Jenison parents camp out in line in front of the Center for the Arts to get their kids into the Spanish immersion program. (March 26, 2017)

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of parents lined up outside Jenison Public Schools on Sunday, prepared to camp out all night to be among the first to register their children for the district’s Spanish immersion program.

In the program, according to the district’s website, native English speakers learn Spanish by starting early and working exclusively in the language across academic subjects.

Parents who waited in the rain Sunday and set up tents to stay overnight say students who learn a second language perform better in other subjects and are better equipped to learn other languages.

“There’s two components to it. Obviously, you’ve got the fluidity in Spanish and being able to speak with a vast portion of the population,” Dr. Eric Hartman, a parent and Jenison school board member, said. “But also the fact that there’s studies known that kids who are developing other parts of their brain, this second language is now going to be easier if they want to learn a third language. (It) not only helps to further grow their brain for music as well as other components, so it’s multifaceted.”

The program is available at Rosewood and Bursley Elementary schools. There is room for only a limited number of students, which is why parents lined up.

Registration starts Monday morning.