DENVER (CBS4) – We’re still months away from summer vacation for students, but the deadline is fast approaching for parents to apply for their kids’ schools. This fall there’s a new first-of-its kind charter Denver public school: French American School of Denver.
“It’s so exciting when I hear French. Both my mother and I both light up because it’s another person that you can relate to and help assimilate into our culture,” Chelsea Thomas said.
Growing up in Denver, Thomas didn’t meet a lot of French speakers, but she hopes in the future that will change.
“It’s certainly advantageous to speak French in business. I’ve worked for a French law firm and having that really opened doors,” she said.
One of Denver’s sister cities is actually Brest, located in France’s Brittany region, but until now public schools have concentrated towards Spanish and Chinese immersion.
“It’s completely free, the only other option is a $20,000 option,” Angela Strange said.
Strange is one of the co-founders and vice board chair for the French American School of Denver. She is excited to give students another public option in the Denver Public Schools system.
“Children in France start school around age 3, and they start English at the same time, so they are well adept in English by the time they are in junior high or high school.”
A second language may not only offer a competitive advantage, but the school will offer a rigorous curriculum based on the French model and the Colorado Common Core standards.
“Our students will learn to read in French first and that skill transfers to English,” Tara Bardeen told CBS4.
Bardeen is also a co-founder and board member.
“One of the powerful things of immersion education is it will create a community construct where kids live these languages and absorb them in a very natural way,” she said.
There will also be an emphasis on discovering the world, plus a lot of repetition and memorization, a hallmark of the French education.
“The French curriculum is extremely rigorous and it forced me to be prepared, which I think helped in college and law school and helped to get my master. It helped all along the way,” Thomas said.
It will be a challenge for many who enroll, but one that comes with “beaucoup d’opportunités.”
Currently kindergarten classes are filling up fast. Students do not need to be proficient at French to enroll, instruction aides will be available to help them catch up. School Choice applications close Feb. 18. The school will be located at 2280 East 16th Avenue.