Danville Express

Newsfront - February 16, 2007

Chinese will prepare students for global economy

Change in population warrants new course

by Jordan M. Doronila

Trustees approved a bundle of new high school courses in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District at their meeting Feb. 6.

Chinese Mandarin, kickboxing, power walking and water polo will be offered at all district high schools starting next school year.

"This is an Asian language that will prepare our students for a global economy," said Denise Hibbard, principal of the soon-to-be opened Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, about offering Mandarin.

"It's exciting," said district spokesman Terry Koehne.

Chinese Mandarin, levels one, two and three, will be open to students in grades nine through 12. Kickboxing, power walking and water polo will be open to students in grades 10-12.

Prior to this approval, there was no high school Chinese language course offered in the district. Parents in the San Ramon Valley requested instructors to add Mandarin to their language course offerings.

Koehne said Hibbard pushed for a Mandarin course because of the local population's changing demographics.

"It fills a need," he said.

University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) both require foreign languages for admission; both university systems require two years of language study, however, UC recommends three years.

Currently, Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Sign Language are offered at the high schools, Hibbard said. The Mandarin curriculum will be open to all students.

Approximately 80 students will move from Spanish and French to Chinese, wrote school administrators in course proposals.

Plans call for one instructor at each high school to teach Chinese, plus textbooks, language laboratory software and workbooks.

Kickboxing was proposed by Monte Vista High School staff. Students will receive physical education or an elective credit for taking this class, which is a total body workout that combines martial arts, dance and boxing.

Course objectives include the following: being able to safely engage in kickboxing and self defense movements; understanding the importance of when, why and how to use these techniques; and preventing violence before it happens. School staff estimated 40-50 students would enroll in kickboxing.

Power walking is designed to help students gain increased cardiovascular endurance and leaner, stronger and healthier bodies. It also increases flexibility. Approximately 40 to 50 students are expected to take power walking.

Waterpolo students will receive physical education or an elective credit. They will learn motor skills, movement patterns, tactics and increased physical activity.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com

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