Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 8:36 pm | Fair 49º

Orcutt Academy Adds Chinese Enrichment to Expand Student Horizons

K-8 campus, high school integrate Mandarin Chinese language and culture into weekly lessons

Instructor Xiaoyan Orozco has begun teaching Orcutt Academy K-8 students Chinese culture, music and language during an enrichment class offered each Friday.
Instructor Xiaoyan Orozco has begun teaching Orcutt Academy K-8 students Chinese culture, music and language during an enrichment class offered each Friday.  (Joe Dana photo / Orcutt Union School District)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

All Orcutt Academy Charter students have the opportunity to experience Chinese culture and language beginning this month, as parents and staff place a greater emphasis on global learning.

The academy’s K-8 Casmalia campus began offering Friday enrichment classes last week with funding from the school’s PTSA.

Orcutt Academy High School just began its second semester with a Mandarin Chinese language course.

While classes at both campuses will include cultural lessons, high schoolers are getting more language learning five days a week and K-8 students are learning more songs, culture and basic greetings once a week, said Joe Dana, director of charter programs at the Orcutt Union School District.

“What we’re doing at the K-8 campus is more of an enrichment approach,” Dana said. “This is a priority for our parents. One of the tenants of the Orcutt Academy is cultural understanding.”

China native Xiaoyan Orozco teaches all of the classes, coming up with sing-song chants for the younger students who seem eager to learn but don’t have long attention spans.

“They also do basic conversation in Chinese,” she said. “I think it’s very important.”

Casmalia PTSA president Rebecca Fanshier said parents decided to put their funds this year toward learning Chinese, similar to past years when the organization paid to offer a Spanish instructor.

Feedback from her fourth- and second-grader led Fanshier to believe parents made the right choice.

“They actually loved it,” she told Noozhawk this week. “They learned how to say ‘hello’.

“Being the global world we are, we’re not isolated,” Fanshier continued. “We’re not a country on our own. We want our kids to have a better understanding. We only have 81 students and 50 families, but we seem to accomplish quite a bit.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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