ST. CLOUD - The original group of kindergarteners who enrolled in the St. Cloud area school district immersion program in 2007 are nearly entering high school.

Since the 2007-08 school year, District 742 has offered Chinese language classrooms at Madison Elementary and Spanish language classrooms at Clearview Elementary. In a language immersion program, teachers communicate only in Spanish/Chinese while teaching students.

Sue Linn-Hasbrouck, the coordinator of immersion and world languages with the district, says officials are looking to continue the programs into high school.

"What we're proposing is to continue with immersion language arts and how that will look for Spanish and Chinese will develop based on the needs of the students."

An Immersion Planning Committee is planning to make a set of recommendations to the school board on Thursday night. First, the committee recommends the district offer a Chinese immersion language arts class that will be offered in the 9th grade and subsequent years. All other core content would be delivered to students in English. The language arts class would give students a chance to fine tune their language skills.

For Spanish, the committee recommends the immersion students be placed in the Spanish world language classes already being offered. All other core content would be delivered in english.

Of the 18 kids who enrolled in the immersion program in 2007, seven are still in the program in the 8th grade. Linn-Hasbrouck says it's not uncommon for some parents to transition their kids out of the program after the elementary years due to other course options at the middle school level. She adds that families have typically been very happy with the immersion programs.

"In my opinion we've had two very successful immersion programs and I think word has spread among families that this is a unique educational experience and offering."

The programs have grown significantly, with 44 kindergarten students enrolling this year, compared to 17 that enrolled in 2007.