Oxford High School Principal David Madden, updated the Board of School Directors on the progress of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at the high school.

"We are pretty proud of the ESL program," Madden said. "There are 35 students enrolled, but there is a concern that one-third of those students withdrew for at least ten days, around Christmas time, to go back to Mexico."

A major concern for Madden is the difficulty communicating with the parents of the students in the program. The majority of the parents are not fluent in English, so in order to communicate, a translator is needed. Aside from the communication barrier with the parents, Madden is also concerned with the fact that although the students are conversational in English, they are not fluent and have trouble in their other classes and in communicating with other teachers.

"The students also feel there is some harassment from the American students," Madden said.

While there are many issues and concerns for Madden, the progress of the program is pleasing.

"We are hiring as many bilingual employees as possible, there are currently six at the school," Madden said. "We are celebrating diversity and acknowledged Hispanic Heritage month, much like we celebrate Black History month in February."

According to Madden, the ESL instructor and a Spanish instructor in the high school have gone to local churches, stores, homes, and other locations to invite parents to an informational meeting. Thirty-two parents and many students attended the session and expressed interest in the program.

At that meeting, the need for more bilingual communication between parents and school officials, as well as a desire for extra help for the students were discussed.

"The end result of that meeting, was 30 kids have asked for homework help," Madden said.

Madden and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Raymond Fisher collaborated to put together an after school program for the ESL students. It will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Both a bilingual and math teacher will be present at the sessions. According to Madden and Fisher, 17 of the 32 students showed up for extra help.

"We're in our infancy stage and I think this is a good start," Madden said.

Fisher said they do a biweekly assessment of students through their teachers.

"Every two weeks, we are finding out the progress in the local students," Fisher said. "Three times a year we test to get the data."

A 120,000 EAD grant for at risk secondary education funds the program.

"35 people in approximately 1,200 is just a drop in a bucket, but we are addressing it," Madden said. "It makes me proud because all the students in the building matter to me."

The program will not end when the school year ends, it will continue throughout the summer.

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