Just in from Seattle Public Schools – Chief Sealth is now an International High School, the first one in the district. That matches it with Denny International Middle School, with whom it will share a campus starting in 2011. Coincidentally, we were just over at the construction site (shown above – renovating Sealth/building a new Denny) for a hardhat tour this morning; that story’s still in the works but this news can’t wait. Read on for the official district announcement:
Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D., has announced the designation of Chief Sealth High School as the district’s first international high school, completing a K-12 international program pathway in West Seattle that reinforces Seattle Public Schools’ commitment to international education.
In 2009, Concord Elementary and Denny Middle – both in the same attendance area as Chief Sealth – received International School designations. Now all three schools will offer major components of an international education, such as language immersion at the elementary and middle school levels, academic excellence in all content areas, world language proficiency and global perspectives incorporated into each class.
“Adding Chief Sealth to the international program pathway gives us a predictable feeder pattern in West Seattle that ensures students can be immersed in international education from kindergarten through their senior year of high school,” said Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. “The continued expansion of international programs is one of the strategies we are using to ensure that every school is a quality school and that we provide Excellence for All.”
The international education program integrates global perspectives into daily learning, with an emphasis on multicultural literature, world economics, global health and arts, music, dance and drama from around the world. Students will also learn about a variety of cultures and countries using an international social studies curriculum that explores current challenges and issues facing the world community. The mission of the international education program is to educate and prepare all students with the cultural competence and skills to achieve in a global community and economy.
Chief Sealth already offers the highly regarded, rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) program, a demanding college preparatory series of international education courses and exams for juniors and seniors. The program, which is also offered at Ingraham High School, follows a two-year ninth- and tenth-grade comprehensive program that incorporates the best elements of college preparatory programs from a number of countries.
The international focus, coupled with the IB curriculum, promotes international understanding and world citizenship, which is reflected in Chief Sealth’s rich cultural diversity, where 1,049 students speak more than 25 languages. The school already offers world language classes including Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, and student exchange programs to China and Guatemala.
“The International School designation will provide all students at Sealth with a global perspective that will benefit everyone, including those planning to complete the International Baccalaureate program,” said Chief Sealth Principal John Boyd. The IB Diploma program will now include a two-year, ninth- and tenth-grade comprehensive program that incorporates the best elements of college preparatory programs from a number of countries, Boyd said.
This designation coincides with Sealth’s return to its original building, which is being remodeled and is set to open in September for the 2010-2011 school year. As part of the designation, the school will officially take the name Chief Sealth International High School, and the change will be reflected in the remodeled school’s surroundings. “The old courtyards of the permanent school are being completely renovated, with each centered on one of the three languages we currently teach – Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin,” Boyd said. The $125 million project that will provide a remodeled facility for Chief Sealth and a new facility for Denny Middle School is funded by the 2007 voter-approved Building Excellence III (BEX III) bond. The project includes shared facilities to support the international program, such as language labs, a common area for community events, and space for teacher collaboration.
Of the other two schools in the K-12 pathway, Concord Elementary offers a dual immersion Spanish program at Kindergarten and first grade. Reading, writing and math are taught in a Spanish immersion environment. Other subjects are taught in English. Denny Middle School, meanwhile, offers dual language for Spanish/English program, Spanish classes for heritage and native speakers of Spanish, an enhanced Spanish class for beginning Spanish speakers, and Mandarin Chinese classes. Arabic language classes are a possible offering.
“Research shows that language immersion and other world language programs promote academic achievement for English Language Learners as well as English-speaking students,” Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson said. “Students with a global perspective have a better understanding of the world around them, the language skills to communicate across cultural boundaries, and a deeper knowledge of the connections that link our community to those of the world at large. These skills help our students and our country to thrive in an increasingly global society.”
Seattle Public Schools began its strong commitment to international education in 2000 with the launch of the John Stanford International School. With the addition of Chief Sealth High School, the District now offers six international school programs. John Stanford and Hamilton International Middle School offer language immersion in Japanese and Spanish; and Beacon Hill International School offers Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English immersion programs. The school district is committed to expanding those international school programs to include a full K-12 pathway similar to what the West Seattle program now offers, although exact feeder patterns have not yet been determined.