On Tuesday, Gov. Markell visited the Townsend Early Childhood Center to help celebrate the conclusion of the first year of the Spanish language program.

Dual-language programs may not be a new idea, but they are a fast-growing trend in Delaware. Championed by Gov. Jack Markell, a growing number of school districts have added these programs to prepare students for success in the global job market.

Among the first to offer the program was the Appoquinimink School District.

In the fall of 2015, the district launched its first Spanish immersion class with 118 kindergarten students in four classrooms. This coming fall, these children will graduate to a dual-language first grade classroom at one of two participating elementary schools (Silver Lake or Townsend) and a new class of kindergartners will begin the program at the Townsend Early Childhood Center. Voluntary enrollment for that second class is now nearly full.

The dual language program begins in kindergarten, and will eventually extend through middle school, with students taking advanced placement tests in ninth grade, then studying at a college level through the rest of high school. Right now, they can take classes in Spanish, but other languages may be added over time.

On Tuesday, Gov. Markell visited the Townsend Early Childhood Center to help celebrate the conclusion of the program’s first year. He was joined by Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky, Ed.D, State Representatives Kevin Hensley and Jeff Spiegelman, Townsend Mayor Jermaine Hatton and an audience of more than 100 parents, staff and school board members.

Together, they enjoyed a 30-minute presentation by the kindergartners and their teachers who entertained with songs and “Morning Circle” activities conducted entirely in Spanish. At the conclusion of the program, the children presented the governor with a t-shirt that read, “Spanish Immersion Ambassador” and a photo collage.