Guest editorial: Save Mandarin Program in Park City |

Guest editorial: Save Mandarin Program in Park City

Save Mandarin program in Park City

Lauren Griganavicius
Treasure Mountain Junior High eighth-grader

Utah is the leader in Dual Language Immersion (DLI) and secondary language learning programs in the United States. Utah currently offers DLI and secondary language programs in the public school system in six different languages. Park City School District has successfully implemented 3, Spanish and French in (DLI) and Mandarin. Spanish is the top secondary language in the state of Utah, Mandarin second and French is third.

The Mandarin Learning Program in PCSD started in 2002, when David Knell became the first teacher in the state of Utah to start teaching Mandarin at the high school level. He retired in June of 2021. The Mandarin program has transitioned to Dr. Kerong Wu. However, we were recently informed that advanced Chinese classes beyond Chinese 3 would be cancelled for the 2022/2023 school year. This was due to low enrollment numbers, but they are at similar enrollment numbers, if not greater than the 2021/2022 school year by 1 student I believe. And now I was told Dr. Wu has resigned and the school district has not been able to find a replacement. So, on the 20th anniversary of this incredible program, the Mandarin learning program has been cancelled! With the incoming students and existing Mandarin learners that has to be over 70 students impacted.

The opportunities our students will have by learning Mandarin are endless as China is developing rapidly and is expected to surpass the U.S. economy in this decade. China has already passed the United States in patent applications starting in 2020 and are leading in some technologies like 5G. Mandarin has become one of the most important languages in international business.

As an 8th grader in Chinese 1, we were discussing longer term possibilities like AP Mandarin and the school was looking to expand the program into a full-time position, as the teaching position is currently part-time. Why can’t this position be made full-time and plan to start Chinese 1 at lower grade levels like it has been done in the past and maybe Chinese DLI long term?

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking Chinese 1 with Dr. Wu this year and I know other students and parents who are also pleased with the program. This is also personal to me, as an Asian American, Dr. Wu is the first Asian teacher I have had in my 4 years in the Park City School District and experiencing some more diversity and inclusion should be important to all of us. If we cannot find another teacher, and if we have not already offered Dr. Wu a full-time role to stay, maybe we should.

We are Parkites, we solve problems, we graduate top students, we support our schools, we change the equation, we develop Olympic athletes but we don’t leave students out in the cold and cancel programs like this. I am not aware of any formal communication to the impacted parents/students nor the community about the school district’s decision to cancel the program. I first learned of this cancelation thru a friend in Chinese class. Why weren’t we asked for input? Asked for ideas to help keep this program going? If you feel this is an important program to save please contact the district leadership and demand a meeting, and our family at

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