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Hays High adding language classes

1/5/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Hays High School students will see few curriculum changes in the 2014-15 school year.

HHS Principal Marty Straub discussed the changes with board of education members in December.

At least one new foreign language class, heritage Spanish speakers, will be added to the curriculum, Straub said, noting he also is considering the addition of Mandarin Chinese language classes.

The heritage Spanish speakers class was offered in the past, then discontinued.

"In hindsight, we really should have kept in heritage Spanish speaking," Straub said. "We'd like to reinstate that."

Heritage Spanish speakers I and II classes will help students increase their Spanish vocabulary and knowledge of the language. The class descriptions will be the same as in the 2011-12 school year curriculum.

"We do need to go back and put that in with the growing Spanish population in the school district," he said.

Straub also is "testing the waters" for classes in Mandarin Chinese.

"It's the second most powerful economic system in the world, (and the) most populous nation in the world," Straub said. "There will be not less communication, but more communication with that country."

The district also might be able to tap into Fort Hays State University's relationship with China.

Straub said he hasn't looked for a Mandarin Chinese teacher yet, and that might be a barrier.

"I hope there's some interest," he said.

There likely would be one or two sections of the class, so even with some planning time, it will be a part-time position.

The school will continue to survey parents to see what students' and parents' interest is.

Art students will see a change in fee collection for the next school year.

Eliminating most art department fees last year was a good move, Straub said.

"What we should have done is ... collect art fees in advance for those things that do go home with students," he said.

Students now must pay the total cost before starting the project.

The other change is moving business economics from social studies to the business department.

As a business class "it's a business credit and social studies credit at the same time" and allows flexibility in students' schedules, Straub said.

BOE member James Leiker thanked Straub "for pushing forward and becoming innovative" with the curriculum.

Straub also told the board, with Superintendent Dean Katt's help finding ways to share costs, some science teachers attended a national conference in Denver.

The district has capable people, "but sometimes you have to go hear the experts," Straub said. "The Internet is a valuable resource, but there is something to being able to talk to another science teacher and learn."

"We can tell the teachers to do something, but if we don't give them the tools, and they understand how to use those tools, it takes a long time to figure it out," Leiker said.