The Houston Independent School District Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to approve plans for the district’s first-ever Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School.
The school is set to open its doors in the fall of 2015, with two pre-kindergarten and two kindergarten classes. A new grade level would be added each year as the students progress through the fifth grade.
Interested families can begin applying on Friday.
“Houston is one of the world’s leading energy capitals, and it has strong economic ties to the Middle East,” said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier. “Those factors combine to create a significant demand in our city for Arabic language fluency — and we want to meet that demand.”
In HISD, Arabic is the second-most common foreign language spoken at home. A cross-functional team tasked with studying the district’s language data determined the school would focus on Modern Standard Arabic.
Research shows that students who learn new languages reap long-term academic and social benefits. Studying a foreign language improves students’ analytical skills and enhances their memory and creativity. It also helps students gain a more profound understanding of their own culture and develop a more positive attitude toward other cultures. Speaking more than one language also make students more valuable in the workforce.
The Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School will be located at 812 W. 28th Street, a site that formerly housed Holden Elementary School and the Energy Institute High School. Some renovation work — such as upgrades to lighting, technology, restrooms and the heating and cooling system — will be required.
HISD has a track record for establishing highly successful dual language immersion schools. In addition to two full-campus Spanish language schools, the district also offers a Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School, which opened at full capacity in 2012. By its second year, it had four applicants for every available spot.
For more information or to apply for the Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School, go online to www.HoustonISD.org/schoolchoice.