FONTANA, CA- An eager group of students cheered alongside Fontana Unified officials on Aug. 4 as a ceremonial ribbon was cut to celebrate the first day of the new Dolores Huerta International Academy, a $30 million campus that provides dual-language and pre-International magnet programs for 350 learners.
The academy, named for civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta, will serve students in kindergarten through third grade in 2016-17, and add fourth grade in 2017-18 and fifth grade in 2018-19.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the highly anticipated opening featured school and District officials, community members, parents, and students dressed in blue and white school colors.
“This school is truly a dream come true,” Principal Maribel Lopez-Tyus said. “It is the result of what we can accomplish as a community when we come together and demand the best for our children. This is an exciting time for Fontana.”
High demand for enrollment led Fontana Unified officials to select students through a random drawing that included 600 applicants.
The academy’s vision was a collaborative effort, with a council of 15 to 20 parents helping to develop the school’s beliefs, logo and vision, which is “Academic excellence and global compassion through innovative and multilingual education.” The academy’s international flair will be on display in the school’s foyer later this year when flags from multiple countries will hang to acknowledge the diverse heritage of the students.
The academy’s dual-language classrooms include a mix of native English and Spanish speakers so students can learn from each another.
Dual-language students receive 90 percent of their instruction in Spanish and 10 percent in English in kindergarten and first grade. As they progress through the grades, the percentage of English instruction grows until lessons balance equally between English and Spanish in fifth grade.
The Pre-International program will provide K-5 students with a challenging course of study to prepare them for enrollment in high school IB programs, which feature college-level coursework. Fontana Unified offers an IB program at Jurupa Hills High School.
“The international program here at the academy will put our students on an advanced track to achieving their academic goals,” FUSD Co-Interim Superintendent Randal Bassett said. “The bright and talented students of this school are our true dignitaries. They will be building our future.”