Kings embracing more diversity
With the start of the 2015-2016 school year, Kings is obviously growing and becoming more diverse. More than ever before, students are immigrating from different countries and joining our community and schools.
Kings High School alone has added five new students from five different countries. This growth largely mirrors that of the country as a whole.
With the opportunities that come with moving to a new country and specifically, joining the Kings community, there are also a lot of struggles for the students, their families and even the Kings staff.
One of the three ESL teachers in Kings, Rhonda Allen-Harman, works with the estimated 150 non-English-speaking students in the district. She talked about one struggle the teachers face with diversity, and specifically the multitude of language barriers.
“A lot of times other kids who are already here, and are proficient in English and also speak the native language, they are helpful,” said Allen-Harman. “We use other students, the other teachers and sometimes we just have to deal with Google translate.”
Starting a new school is always hard. Imagine not only leaving the town you grew up in, but the country. Juste Kirieliute, a Kings sophomore who moved from Lithuania said, “Being in another country and being away from my friends and family was really hard.”
Classes can be very difficult when you cannot understand English.
“I had to learn English which was really hard in class,” said Kirieliute.
A lot of new students have a really hard time not only making friends, but with their grades as well. With Kirieliute, it took almost five years in our schools struggling to keep up because of the language barriers. She’s now an Honor’s student at Kings.
Not only was the education hard, but being treated poorly by kids who may not understand the differences in other cultures.
“At school kids would steal my things and search through my stuff,” Kirieliute said. “Since I didn’t speak English I couldn’t stick up for myself even when teachers got involved.”
Although school was a challenge, Kirieliute’s neighbors were always very helpful and kind to their family which made strong friendships and taught them a lot about living in the United States.
The growth in diversity in the Kings community is an opportunity for all community members to learn something new. There is always a story about how and why new students have joined Kings.
by Emily Charneski and Laura Madden