Sign up now for Spanish immersion summer camp

May 18, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

This summer Issaquah-area families have the opportunity to enroll children ages 3-10 in a Spanish immersion summer camp sponsored by Spanish School House, a preschool/kindergarten based in Texas, thanks to the persistence of Diana Gonzalez, an Issaquah Highlands resident.

“Being Mexican, if I don’t do something, my tradition will stop with me,” she said. “I realized I needed to do something to pass my culture on to my kids, since we don’t have it here. Unlike in Texas, where I grew up, we don’t have the richness of Mexican culture here.”

Gonzalez first tried to send her two children, Sofia, 5, and Ava, 3, to Mexico to stay with relatives for two months, but was told Mexico City was too dangerous. She also tried to fly them to stay with Texas relatives, but her husband reminded her that being from the Northwest, their children probably wouldn’t deal well with a Texas summer.

So, she contacted the founders of Spanish School House and asked them to start a program here, which she’ll direct.

“If you would have asked us a year ago if we’d be starting a program out of Texas, we would have said absolutely not,” said the school’s co-founder Vicki Williams. “But we had five or six people from this area call us in the same time frame and we decided if we were going to expand, why not here.”

The company, founded by Williams and Monica Ramirez, has 12 schools in Texas and began about 10 years ago.

“Having a second and third language, like Spanish, isn’t a disadvantage,” Ramirez said. “It used to be a luxury, but it is quickly becoming a need in this world. In fact, around the world, it is common for children to learn several languages. But in the U.S., it isn’t. The U.S. has to catch up.”

There are 21 countries in the world where Spanish is the national language, Williams added, which is a lot of people.

The school’s directors employ only native Spanish speakers, so the tradition of the Spanish-speaking cultures come with them and the schools are fully aligned with the state of Texas education standards, Williams said.

“Our students graduate fluent in Spanish and English and they are not only prepared for kindergarten or first grade, but we’ve checked with parents, and they are excelling in their classes,” she said.

The summer camps are broken down into four one-week sessions. Students can attend for one week or all four.

Students will learn Spanish phrases and vocabulary, including colors, physical movement, greetings and music.

“It’s meant to be really fun,” Williams said. “That is how kids learn, by having fun and playing. It doesn’t matter what language it’s in, they learn the same concepts.”

The summer camps are open to all children in the greater Issaquah area. All students will receive a short-sleeved shirt with their admission.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

If you go

Spanish Summer Camp

  • 9 a.m. – noon, 4Mondays through Thursdays
  • Start dates: June 28, July 12, July 19 and July 26
  • Blakely Hall
  • 2550 N.E. Park Drive
  • Cost: $145 per week
  • www.spanishschoolhouse.com or 518-0039
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