Monday, September 22, 2014

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Queen of Spain Visits Manhattan Elementary School

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In celebration of a partnership with city schools that teach in both English and Spanish, one Manhattan school got a royal visit. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Girls wore crowns. A boy gave a deep, respectful bow. First graders danced to a Disney princess song in Spanish.

The schools chancellor called it a dream come true.

"I wish my parents were here to see how far I've come. I don't think being chancellor would have impressed them but this would have," said Fariña.

It was a celebration fit for a Queen in this case the new Queen of Spain, Her Majesty Letizia, who came to Washington Heights Monday to visit PS 103 Dos Puentes Elementary School.
A special moment for the Chancellor, who happens to be the child of Spanish immigrants.

"Very few things get me as excited but having a queen from the country of my parents' birth was really very powerful today," Fariña said.

Letizia came to celebrate the inclusion of several city schools in a consortium called the International Spanish Academies.

The partnership is mostly symbolic. The Spanish consulate says it will offer the schools support, though not financially.

The schools say they spoke with the Queen about making connection deeper over time, including perhaps a teacher exchange.

"I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for our school and our students, especially in this neighborhood, and the mix of students that we get and really just to give more and more emphasis to the value of the Spanish language through out our school," said Dos Puentes Elementary School Principal Victoria Hunt.

Dos Puentes is a new school. As of now, it just has kindergarten and first grade classes, though it will eventually go through fifth grade.

Every class is a dual language class, which means every other day the whole school switches between teaching and learning in English and teaching and learning in Spanish.

We are finding that in NYC, in the last two years in particular, more and more parents are asking for dual language and these are parents whose children only speak English.

Fariña says she expects to open 40 more dual language programs over the next few years, with classes in French, Arabic, Mandarin and, of course, Spanish.

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