Since opening seven years ago in a converted sports training center near Newark, Las Americas ASPIRA has become a magnet for parents who want their children to speak Spanish and English.
More than seven hundred K-8 students now attend the school, whose focus is dual language immersion with the goal of having all students bilingual by third grade. Classes are taught in either English or Spanish, so students need to be fluent in both to keep up with their studies.
On Friday ASPIRA christened its sparkling new auditorium, part of a $11.5 million renovation, by celebrating the 296,341 reading minutes that students logged over the summer. Their hard work won ASPIRA top honors for Delaware in a nationwide contest sponsored by Scholastic Inc.
The top third grade reader was Whitney DeCubellis, who loves the Wayside School series and Harry Potter books. Her favorite part of reading is that you “learn more words you didn’t know,’’ she said.
Taking the stage Friday in front of her classmates was intimidating, she said, but the adulation she received was more than worth the initial trepidation.
“I was scared at first but then I was happy,’’ DeCubellis said.
Fellow third grader Arianna Llerena, whose favorite book is “Remarkable”, said she was also a little nervous to receive her award but became “excited” once she heard the clapping and cheering.
Principal Margie Lopez Waite couldn’t be prouder of her pupils.
“Reading has definitely been a big focus for our curriculum,’’ she said. “We definitely feel that if we can encourage them to have a passion for reading it opens up all the other pathways.”
Lopez Waite said the school’s literacy team hosted reading activities over the summer at local libraries.
“It’s not as if the students disappeared and went their separate ways,’’ she said. “We found opportunities to actually bring them back together.”