A local high school with a distinctly international flavor is well into its inaugural year, an experiment of sorts that’s immersing students in curriculum useful in a global marketplace. Here’s more from Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams.
It’s the first of its kind in the Houston School District, a new international high school on the campus of an existing high school. The International High School at Sharpstown opened in August with 100 ninth-grade students, all with interests in foreign languages and curriculum based on international interests. This is principal Chang Yu.
“We’re preparing our kids to be more marketable, to get ready for the challenges of the new millennium because as the world shrinks in regards to science and technology, they’ve got to be more diverse, they’ve got to be more understanding and they’ve got to be more up to date with current events because everything’s impacting that happens across the ocean. It’s not just about us. It’s about the whole world in general.”
At the school’s formal dedication recently, students showcased just one of the skills they’ve learned at the International School, playing a foreign instrument. Students are also required to take a foreign language every year. Mauro Douohouo says he wants to learn as many languages as he can.
“My parents told me about it and I started reading the catalogue and I said, it’s a small school in international studies. I like to learn languages. I speak three languages, French, English and Spanish and I want to learn a new language. I’m learning it right now, which is Chinese.”
Kodi Carter says she’s looking forward to international field trips and learning about other cultures.
“The fact that I’ll get to hopefully travel and learn outside of the classrom like they say, it’s a good thing. My dad, he’s a little iffy on me going out of the country without him, but that’s alright. It’s going to give me the chance to learn new things and meet new people, and that’s what I like.”
Students have already learned phrases in Chinese and will be required to complete an internship with an international focus before they graduate. Former Houston City Councilman and chair of the Asian Advising Committee for HISD Gordon Quan says many students welcome a new challenge.
“A lot of studies show that high school students don’t see a relevance in high school, that they’re bored with high school. I think this a way to engage students at where they are to really challenge them and to make learning interesting and fun and I hope that that will be a beginning for more schools of this nature in Houston.”
HISD Board Member Greg Meyers says the district plans to add a class a year and grow the school slowly.
“Next year we’re going to add a 100 in a sophomore class and we’ll just continue progressing that way, so we do envision about 400 kids moving forward in this academy. As we move forward, we’ll see if we can expand that as well, but 400 seems to be the magic number for now.”
The International High School at Sharpstown is funded through district funds and local grants from the Asia Society and Houston A+ Challenge.