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English and Spanish spoken, taught at central Idaho school every day

Alturas Elementary is a dual-language English-Spanish learning school in Hailey, Idaho.

HAILEY, Idaho — Schools all over Idaho are now back in session. Oneschool celebrating the linguistic and cultural diversity in their classrooms every day can be found in Hailey, Idaho.

"We have Mexican students, Peruvian students, Salvadorian students, Ecuadorian students, and this year we will have an Italian student. So, we just celebrate everybody's culture," said Deiysi Paredes-Monjaras, a first-grade teacher.

Alturas Elementary focuses on dual-language learning for all students.

"Alturas' mission is to create students who can gain academic achievement be bilingual or multilingual and have an appreciation for the culture," said Maria Pina, a fourth-grade teacher.

According to a University of Idaho study, 18% of all Idaho students in public K-12 schools are Hispanic or Latinx. In Hailey, they make up 31% of the population. Of the 31%, most speak Spanish as their primary language.

"This year in particular, we've had an influx of immigrants moving into our community and, as of a few weeks, we've had 29 new students register who are new to the country,” Paredes-Monjaras said.

To help serve that population and enrich those who aren’t, get the best of both worlds.

"They learn how to read write and speak in both languages and so they will become proficient by the end of their high school careers. It's pretty amazing what they are able to do,” Paredes-Monjaras said.

Pina said having access to teachers who look like them also helps students feel welcome and are more likely to succeed.

"I can identify, growing up with two languages and the struggles they go through and being able to meet them at their level and that they can learn this language and they are fully supported and loved,” Pina said.

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