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Minnechaug 'committed' to keeping Mandarin Chinese part of school curriculum

Date: 6/4/2012

June 4, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — Mandarin Chinese will continue to be an option for Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS) students looking to take a foreign language.

MRHS principal Stephen Hale confirmed to Reminder Publications that courses in the Chinese dialect would be part of the curriculum for the 2012-2013 school year.

"We are committed to it and we are currently exploring creative ways to expand the program," he said. "It will be a part of Minnechaug next year and we advertised in the paper recently for a full time teacher."

The position was posted on May 22 and applications will be accepted until June 7.

Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea first announced the inclusion of Mandarin into the school's curriculum as part of a May 12, 2011 budget hearing.

At that hearing, O'Shea announced HWRSD's plan to eliminate French as a foreign language option and stated that a non-Western language would take its place. O'Shea explained that interest in the language at MRHS has declined, with the number of students taking French dwindling from 173 to 99 from 2005 to 2011.

Hale then announced in December 2011 that an Introduction to Mandarin course would be offered in the spring semester of the 2011-2012 school year.

However, the existence of the Mandarin program was in jeopardy just as it was getting off the ground as Hale noted in his portion of the May MRHS parent newsletter.

Hale explained in the letter that any student interested in taking the Mandarin 1 or Introduction to Mandarin courses had to register for the class by May 11.

"We have not had an overwhelming response thus far. If by Friday, May 11, we do not have enough interested students, we will not be able to offer these courses next year," Hale wrote.

Mandarin is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world with 845 million native speakers and more than 1 billion total speakers, according to, citing recent census information.

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