Scenic Park Elementary School

Scenic Park Elementary School

Serves students in Kindergarten and Grade 1, with the goal of becoming a K–grade 12 program

Scenic Park Elementary School, in beautiful Anchorage, Alaska, hosts the state’s first-ever Chinese immersion program. Scenic Park is a K–5 elementary school in the Anchorage School District with a student population of approximately 425. Scenic Park has both a neighborhood program and a Chinese immersion program. Although the school had a FLES program for 8 years, in the fall of 2016, Scenic Park welcomed 42 students in kindergarten into a 50/50 Chinese immersion program. The Anchorage School District (ASD) has offered immersion education since 1988, beginning with Japanese. ASD also has the nation’s first K–12 Russian immersion program. ASD is extremely excited to add Mandarin Chinese to the list of immersion offerings.

In the fall of 2017, Scenic Park will host a Chinese immersion program in both kindergarten and first grade, and they will add a grade level each year, until the K–12 continuum has been completed.  

This 7-minute video was presented at a STARTALK conference, showing how STARTALK paved the way for the creation of the Chinese immersion program.

Program Description

Scenic Park’s Chinese immersion program, like all immersion programs in ASD, is a partial immersion program. Each grade level has a two-person teaching team: The Chinese teacher teaches science, social studies, and Chinese language arts; the English Partner teacher teaches math and English language arts. “Specials,” such as art, music, health, and PE, are taught in English. However, Scenic Park is fortunate to have a Chinese-speaking music teacher and art teacher. While the program is still very new, the long-range plan is to teach art and music in Chinese, incorporating traditional Chinese art and music, while also teaching the district-adopted art and music curricula.

All kindergarten classrooms in the Anchorage School District have a teaching assistant. This holds true in the Chinese immersion program as well. We are fortunate to have a Chinese-speaking teaching assistant in our kindergarten classroom, to provide additional support and serve as another authentic language model for the students.

Scenic Park is the only immersion program in Alaska that maintains a FLES program in the neighborhood side of the school, so that all 425 students in grades K–5 spend a portion of their week learning about Chinese language and culture.

For the past 7 years, Scenic Park has been fortunate to receive a federally funded STARTALK grant, which has financially supported a Chinese summer camp for 80 students in grades 1–8. The Chinese language teachers in both the middle school and high school, which are in the same neighborhood, work together with the elementary school staff and participate in the camp. The camp is open to any student in the ASD. Historically, this grant has partially funded an after school Chinese program for Scenic Park students, and beginning in 2016, also funds a week-long “boot camp” for incoming kindergarten immersion program students, to prepare them for their introduction to school as well as to a whole new language.  


In addition to the STARTALK program, which has, over time, provided funding for resources and materials that can also be utilized in the immersion program, several other community partnerships have been established. ASD and Scenic Park have an official “school-business” partnership with the Confucius Institute (CI) at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). The CI provides materials, resources, and TA support. This year Scenic Park hopes to become an official “Confucius Classroom.” Additionally, a partnership exists with the Alaska Chinese Association, sponsor of the local annual Chinese New Year Festival. The neighboring middle and high schools, which will eventually be the continuation schools for the Chinese immersion program, also offer Chinese. These two schools work collaboratively with Scenic Park, as well as UAA, to provide a solid K–16 Chinese community in East Anchorage. 

Program Contacts

Jennifer Schmitz
Scenic Park Elementary

Brandon Locke
Director, World Languages
Anchorage School District

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