CINCINNATI -- After standing empty for a decade, the former North Fairmount Elementary will reopen its doors this fall as LEAP Academy, a Spanish magnet school.
"We talk so much about technology and social media, but being able to speak another language is a 21st century skill," Principal Priya Sonty said.
It took a $1.3 million makeover to transform North Fairmount into LEAP Academy, which will welcome an inaugural class of around 100 pre-K through third grade students who come from both English- and Spanish-speaking households. Regardless of where they start, Sonty said, the school's goal is for all of these students to graduate with literacy in both languages.
Although core instruction at LEAP will be in English, students will receive 45 minutes of Spanish-language instruction every day and find Latin American culture integrated into all subjects.
According to a release from Cincinnati Public Schools, exposing students to non-native languages earlier helps them learn faster and be better-prepared for language proficiency tests later in life.
Sonty didn't have that advantage. She learned Spanish as an adult, and she's excited to see what her students are capable of.
"I learned the language just as many of my students will: Totally fresh and not coming in with any of that background knowledge," she said.
The school plans to add additional grades up to sixth in coming years.