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Survey shows District 161 parents favor adding Mandarin classes

How do you say “Welcome to Flossmoor District 161” in Mandarin?

Future students may be able to translate that expression if the district adds the Chinese language to the curriculum.

No decision has yet been made by the board of education, but district administration continues to take the steps needed to add Mandarin to the current foreign-language offerings of Spanish and French. The latest was taken at the March 13 school board meeting.

Director of Learning and Instruction Amabel Crawford shared results of a recent parent survey revealing interest in the idea.


At the junior high level, 109 parents said their student would be interested in the course, a positive response rate of 72.2 percent, while 42 parents replied “no” to the idea. Parents of elementary students were asked about interest in their student “having exposure to Mandarin.” They replied favorably to the idea by 78.6 percent with 121 saying “yes” and 33 replying “no.” 

“There is so much interest,” Crawford told the board. “However, this would be a challenging position to fill.”

Crawford said the administration is studying options including offering Mandarin after school hours with parents covering the cost. Another possibility is allowing junior high students to take the course at Homewood-Flossmoor High School where the subject is currently offered.

District officials will also study whether adding Mandarin would have an effect on current offerings of Spanish and French.

In other business, the board approved a previous recommendation to engage Kee Construction for summer life safety work for a total of $960,741. The board also approved the expenditure of $1,118,567 to Crowther Roofing and Sheet Metal for roof replacement at Parker Junior High School.

Two successful boys basketball teams at Parker were recognized by the board for their outstanding seasons.

The seventh-grade boys basketball team finished in the top eight at the state finals, first place in the South Suburban Junior High School Association North Conference and had an overall record of 15-4. Team members included Luis Acevedo, Jalen Bumphis, Jeffon Dudley, Tyson Harvey, Chase James, Daniel Johnson, David Kenebrew, Jr., Adrian Lewis, Chakaris London, II, Christian Meeks, Derek Partee, Cedrick Stanback and Jyles Walton.

Parker’s eighth-grade boys basketball squad finished in second place in the Illinois Elementary School Association state tournament while compiling a season’s record of 19-3. Recognized by the board were players Victor Cooksey, Colin Harris, Kenyon Haynes, Darnell Jones II, Cedric Mitchell, William Pauling, Kenton Pryor, Chad Readey, Daniel Reed and Tai Walters Whitaker.

The board also honored Noelle Dolan, a fourth-grade student at Western Avenue School. Noelle recently placed fourth out of 34 participants at the South Cook Spelling Bee.

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