Anchorage School District Offers Students Alternative Programs
Language immersion, varied learning systems offered
ANCHORAGE - At Sand Lake Elementary, it’s not just ABCs and 123s you’ll hear in the classrooms. More than 300 students there are also proficient in Japanese.
“I'll go to other places and see people just talking in English and I'll think, 'Oh, that's funny,' because I speak Japanese half the day,” said 5th grade student Owen Kelly.
Seven Japanese teachers as well as several interns from Japan help student learn more than just the language.
“I'm very passionate about introducing my language and culture. My passion is also teaching language as well so I really enjoy teaching here at Sand Lake Elementary School,” said teacher Izumi Matsushita.
Sand Lake is one of a handful of schools in Anchorage with language immersion programs that offer kids a different way of learning.
“I think the Anchorage School District is so unique in that they do offer a lot of opportunities for parents and choices for parents and the ability and advantages it offers for our community,” said Sand Lake Principal Lisa Huffman.
Alternative programs aren’t easy to get into. Through the ASD lottery only 50 students get into the Japanese program. Aquarian Charter is another sought-after school that accepts 60 kindergarteners then fills other grade levels if there are openings.
“I hope every family first, chooses and supports their neighborhood schools and considers that option, tries it, tours it. We have great schools; every school I've been in is a great school,” said Aquarian Principal Lucas Saltzman.
On Thursday, parents got a chance to chat with Saltzman to see what makes Aquarian different from other schools.
“We don't use Houghton Mifflin which is what neighborhood schools use. We use a compilation of different balanced literacy pieces,” he explained as parents toured an empty kindergarten classroom.
Currently ASD has 4,273 students enrolled in alternative programs and 2,417 at charter schools. Parents said it’s nice to have too many options.
“I think it's extremely crucial for Anchorage as such a diverse city that we can appease to as many different types of people and interests as possible,” said Francesca Busick.
With the lottery system, there’s no guarantee a student will get into his or her first choice school but teachers say with the quality of faculty around Anchorage, kids are guaranteed to get a great education.
Parents will get a chance to check out different ASD programs and schools at the Alternative Programs Fair on Saturday, February 9. It will be at the ASD Education Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lottery applications are due March 21.