Guibsi Morales wants to make her living in tourism. Since Leadership High School aims to prepare students for management work, that would seem to be the perfect place for her education.
But because the Mexican immigrant is still learning English, she was placed in Arts & Cultural Studies High School when Manual High School split in three in August. So were all of Manual’s English learners, because there weren’t enough bilingual teachers to serve them equally throughout the building. The result is what some students are calling an unnecessarily segregated campus, with Arts & Cultural Studies serving as more of an English academy for Hispanic students than an arts school.
‘To divide up the English Language Acquisition students among the three schools, they would be really diluted and I’m not sure they would get the attention they need,’ said Kathy Bougher, the bilingual coordinator for Arts & Cultural Studies and thus for all of Manual.
Morales has mixed feelings about the fact that, unlike her English-speaking peers, she didn’t get to decide which school to join.
‘I think this year is better because we are in the floor with bilingual people and we don’t speak English very well. That helps us for communicating,’ she said.
On the other hand, she said, English would come quicker to her if she could mix more with English-speaking students.
The language issue was among complaints that led some Manual students to stage a walkout in December. Millennium Quest principal Estevan Duran said the walkout was fueled mainly by rumors that the Manual Thunderbolts sports teams would be broken up and that each school would hold its own graduation ceremony.
Most students calmed down after learning those rumors were false, Duran said. But others remain concerned that the breakup is dividing the Manual community more than uniting it, said student organizer Kym Horton, a junior.