Holland Christian’s mission is to equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.

We believe that the Spanish immersion program gives our students the tools to live fully into this mission. By learning a second language, students have the ability to grow in empathy and understanding, furthering their ability to learn from others, and love others well for God’s glory.

We have named ourselves La Familia because our desire is that our students feel they are part of a family here at Holland Christian. We celebrate the opportunity that they have to learn a second language and want to support them as they continue to develop their language skills in order to be better equipped to engage with others in our local and global communities.

Questions about our program? Contact our Director of Spanish Secondary Continuing Immersion, Anna Slenk, at aslenk@hollandchristian.org.

/ PROGRAM OVERVIEW & COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Who can enroll?

  • Students who have completed a K-8 Spanish Immersion Program
  • Native and Heritage speakers
  • Students who have scored in advanced levels on a recognized proficiency test (STAMP, AAPPL, OPI)

What we offer:

  • A program designed to give more flexibility in student schedules
  • Content courses and electives designed for Spanish Immersion students
  • Three course options per semester (minimum two courses required for program participants)
  • AP Spanish Language and Literature and alternative Language Proficiency Testing
  • Michigan Seal of Biliteracy Application Submission
  • Hope College Partnership for Dual Enrollment classes

What can you expect from our students?

  • Students will be both bilingual and biliterate, performing on or above grade level in both languages.
  • Students will achieve a high level of proficiency (Advanced mid to Advanced high) by their senior year.
  • Students will demonstrate positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors, and cultural competency.

What makes our program stand out?

We have developed a program that gives increased opportunity and flexibility for student schedules. By rotating courses, offering content area courses, and giving three course options each semester, we are able to ensure that more students are able to take performing arts electives and AP classes, all while still fitting two Spanish courses into their schedule each semester. Program participation requires two courses per semester; however, because we know that students need more time in the target language to maintain and advance their proficiency, students have the option to take up to three courses each semester.

What courses are offered?

The following courses in the table below are taught at Holland Christian High School through the Spanish Secondary Continuing Immersion Program. The optional Hope College Cohort is for those students who score a 4 or 5 on the Spanish AP exam their sophomore year, and then are invited to apply for the Hope College cohort, which gives them an opportunity to earn up to 16 college credits. These Hope College courses focus on linguistics, intensive grammar study, and Latin American and Spanish history and literature. As part of the cohort, families receive discounted Dual Enrollment tuition at Hope College.

Rotating Courses SI Electives
Grade Level Courses offered each year 20/21 School Year 21/22 School Year 21/22 School Year
9th grade English 1 in Spanish (year long) US History (year long) Western Civ, Bible 1 Translation & Interpretation, Performing Arts
10th grade AP Spanish (year long) US History (year long) Western Civ, Bible 1 Translation & Interpretation, Performing Arts
11th grade Hope Cohort (optional) World Cultures, Communications Government, Ethnic Lit Translation & Interpretation, Performing Arts
12th grade Senior Seminar or Hope Cohort (optional) World Cultures, Communications Government, Ethnic Lit Translation & Interpretation, Performing Arts

/ Frequently asked questions

How do we get involved in our community?

We believe that it is important for students to have authentic language experience, and we have access to an amazing Hispanic community locally. As part of our program, students are connected with individuals and professionals in our local community to give students the opportunity to learn from those in our greater community, all while using their second language. In addition, they have the opportunity to do internships as seniors that allow them to use their Spanish in professional settings.

How will being in the SI program affect my schedule?

Our program design allows for greater flexibility in student schedules. Some core Language Arts and Social Studies required courses are offered in Spanish each year, giving students space in their schedule for electives such as band or choir. By offering three courses per semester, students will still be able to take two courses in Spanish per semester, even if they decide to opt out of a Spanish Immersion content area course for an AP equivalent.

What travel opportunities are there?

Holland Christian has a partnership with Faces & Our Cultures, a student exchange program connecting students from Guatemala with Holland Christian students. Holland Christian students have the opportunity to host Guatemalan students during the school year as well as visit Guatemala in the summer.

What if my child does not want to continue in immersion?

If your child does not want to participate in the full immersion program, there are still opportunities for him or her. By taking the Freshman Spanish Language Arts class, they can prepare to take AP Spanish their sophomore year. In addition, they are always permitted to join in Spanish Immersion elective classes to stay in the language.

What is the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy?

Students who place intermediate high or higher on a standardized proficiency test and take a sufficient number of courses in the target language qualify for the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy. Holland Christian facilitates AAPPL and AP language testing, both of which are approved proficiency tests. We assist seniors in the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy Application process.

What support for college planning to you give?

We understand that each college and university is unique. Therefore we guide students through college decisions, explaining the details regarding proficiency testing and credit transfer for AP scores and Hope College course credits.

/ Our Team

Meet our amazing Spanish Secondary Continuing Immersion staff members! Each is uniquely gifted with the background and education to work with our high school Spanish Immersion students.

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Mrs. Deb Feenstra, Principal

Deb has served for over 30 years in education and has vast experience in both administration and Spanish language immersion. She and her family, including her husband and two daughters, spent six years as RCA missionaries in Mexico, living and learning with the Mayan people in Chiapas, Mexico.

She is passionate about language education, as well as creating a Christian community where each student and staff member is equally valued, accepted, and celebrated for the person that God has created them to be as they grow both spiritually and academically.

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Mr. Chris Jacobs

After graduating from Holland Christian High School, Chris studied social studies and Spanish and studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, originally with plans of moving there permanently to teach after graduation. Chris received his education degree from Grand Valley State University with a major in social studies and a minor in Spanish.

Aside from Spanish and history, he enjoys playing music, kayaking, traveling, and building guitars. He is excited to help students grow not only in knowledge, but in a deep, real, and authentic relationship with their Savior.

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Mrs. Noelle Solis

Noelle graduated from Calvin College in 2009 with a K-12 Spanish and Secondary English and Education degree, and then taught ESL in Mexico for four years. While in Mexico, she completed a Master’s in TESOL through Biola University. In 2013, she moved to Costa Rica, where she taught IB high school IB English literature and language arts for six years to Costa Rican students in an immersion program.

When she’s not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Javier, and their 19-month-old daughter, Abigail, besides reading, traveling, drinking coffee, and being outdoors.

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Mrs. Anna Slenk, Program Director

Anna graduated from North Park University (Chicago, IL) with a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies and Creative Writing in 2006. In 2016, she finished her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a certificate in Dual Language and Immersion Education.

In 2016, after living in Costa Rica for almost ten years, Anna moved back to West Michigan with her husband, Andrés Castro, a software engineer. Together they have three young boys: Levi, Oliver, and Wesley. While in Costa Rica, Anna helped start and lead El Puente, a bilingual Christian school in a small beach town on the Pacific Coast. She still works with the school from a distance in an administrative position.