COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus City Schools is celebrating bilingual learning and teaching with the opening of a one-of-a-kind renovated middle school.

The district calls World Language Middle School the next step for students who are part of the district’s three immersion schools, which focus on teaching and learning, specifically, Spanish or French, along with English.

It’s a new school for students who aim to be bilingual.

“I am truly appreciative for the opportunity to attend a school that is designed for me and language-loving students like myself,” said incoming seventh-grader Isla Corbin.

The district is opening its World Language Middle School this year specifically to continue the work of the three immersion elementary schools.

For parent Emma Corbin, this is key for her children to continue learning and speaking French.

“Get to keep it going and strengthen it even further,” she said. “It means that all that we’ve dedicated in the elementary years, the commitment to bilingualism, is going to pay off even more.”

The school is also for students who are learning English.

“We also have our ESL (English as a Second Language) families that are coming to this program,” said school principal Sandra Santos. “We have many Spanish-speaking families. We are leading the seal of biliteracy.”

Columbus City Schools Board Member Michael Cole said the new school is made possible thanks to a $30 million school restructuring plan.

“This is a great opportunity for our youngsters again to have their own space, not necessarily have to share with high school students, and kind of find that balance and figure out their way in a high school environment, but be right here, designated with resources that are strictly for them,” Cole said.

The new school will allow students to continue with their language studies, which in the past, wasn’t an option until they reached high school.

Emma Corbin said after a year of virtual and hybrid learning thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school is a welcomed opportunity.

“It’s so difficult, in those middle years, to be able to understand the extra rigor, the extra time, the extra effort you have to be able to put in independently,” she said. “For her to be in a building where she’s going to be surrounded by educators that are there to guide her and support her, it just means the world to me.”

The World Language Middle School will have about 300 middle school students for its first year in session.

The school is located at the site of the former Dominion Middle School, which moved to Arcadia Avenue last year.