The international school Le Monde celebrates its grand opening | Local News

NORMAN — For more than two years, a group of parents, staff and teachers have worked to establish Le Monde International School, a public French and Spanish immersion charter school in Norman.

Last week, Le Monde celebrated its grand opening, about a month after classes began, with a ribbon cutting and chilli fundraiser. The school currently has Kindergarten to Grade 4 classes in French and Kindergarten to Grade 1 in Spanish, serving a total of 130 students.

But for the school’s executive director, Lance Seeright, Thursday’s event was the starting line, not the finish.

“We still have a long way to go,” he said. “We want to create not only bilingual students, but bilingual students, so that they can not only speak [two languages], but they can write and read them fluently. We want our students, when they leave us, to be in a good position academically and personally.”

Students performed songs in French and Spanish, and people ranging from staff members to architects to a representative from the French Embassy in Houston were recognized at the ceremony. Board Chair Loida Salmond thanked various individuals and organizations involved in establishing the school, including the Walton Family Foundation, which awarded Le Monde a public charter seed grant of $325,000, and attorney Bill Hickman, who represented the school before the state. school board.

“We position our students to learn the life skills needed to become successful adults,” she said. “The academic benefits of being bilingual have been scientifically proven time and time again.”

The lengthy process of starting a charter school from scratch required approval from the state board of education after the public schools in Normandy refused to sponsor the public charter school. School Board Vice President Jody Britt first engaged in discussions with other parents about starting a language immersion school after the French program closed at Reagan Elementary due to funding cuts .

“It’s amazing to think we’ve come this far,” Britt said. “Tonight was a big party, but the really rewarding part is walking down the halls, seeing the students’ projects on the walls, hearing them speak French and Spanish. It’s amazing to have made that possible.”

Finding teachers was easier than expected, Britt said, but she stressed the importance of building up a pool of staff, as the school plans to add grades every year through eighth grade. . As with all new schools, there will be hiccups along the way, Seeright and Britt acknowledged. The World has already overcome a potential problem.

“The kids chose their own mascot, and it came down to pickles or panthers,” Britt said. “Thank God the Panthers won.”