BY BRENDA DOMINICK
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Roaming the halls of Cedar Crest Academy, you might hear echoes of little voices saying in unison, “rojo-red, rojo-red, blanco-white, blanco-white.”
Students as young as junior kindergarten age are learning foreign languages at the school on Dixie Highway.
“When the brain is young, you create that pathway,” said Bette Moen, founder. “They may stop taking Chinese in middle school and not choose to keep it going. Then, in high school, test out of their second language. Then, all of the sudden think, ‘I want to go back, I want to pick that up again.’”
Picking up a language is much easier for children because their brain pathways are growing and more flexible, Moen said.
Activities in their language classes can change six to eight times within the hour.
“My French and Spanish students have language four hours a week, whereas my Chinese and German only have about 1 ½ to 2 hours per week, about half as much,” she said.
Moen asked students what they thought the value was to speaking multiple languages.
“You could go to a Chinese college, and fill out the paperwork to get in,” Alexandra said.
“When you can speak someone’s language, you better understand their state of life,” said middle schooler Giselle.
“You can see others’ cultures and how they live, differently than you, rich or poor,” said Henry, another middle school student.
“I think when children are highly connected to the purpose in learning, they will learn more and they will learn it better.,” Moen said. “So, we’re always giving them feedback.”
Children should learn a language for brain development, cultural tolerance, and curiosity, she said.
Children are naturally curious and it’s good to keep that curiosity alive, such as with a new language, she said.
“This morning in the class I was in, she had the smartboard up with numbers and they had their text with them because they have textbooks,” she said. “Then, after that was over, she played this game with a stuffed bee. She threw it to them, and they caught it, and repeated the numbers that she was saying. So, at the end, what she was doing with that (and I asked her), she said, ‘I’m correcting their pronunciation so that it’s cleaner.’”
Teachers also use the game to lower the kids’ level of stress for speaking purposes, to lighten their spirit, and to listen to their pronunciations for her to correct them.
Not only are languages taught at Cedar Crest, but also different cultures. Dress up activities and vocabulary parades in Spanish are included, as well as music lessons and field trips.
“Food is not uncommon,” said Moen. “In the spring when strawberries are ripe, we always make French crepes. It is a really great experience. Middle school students are going to Mexicantown in Detroit and also to see Diego Rivera display at DIA because some of them have never seen it.”
With a 12 to 1 teacher-student ratio, students get individualized curricula, with a connection and support from their teachers and other staff.
Half Day Junior Kindergarten students attend school from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; Full Day Junior Kindergarten students attend 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; Early Childhood students attend 7:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Kindergarten- Grade 8 students attend 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The average annual tuition is between $7,834 to $14,371, depending on grade level. Parents may choose up to four different payment option plans or apply for financial aid, which is available through Cedar Crest Educational Foundation. Cedar Crest’s Financial Aid Program is managed through The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
There are 190 students total enrolled at Cedar Crest Academy and Cedar Crest Early Childhood Center. Cedar Crest Academy & Early Childhood Center will hold an Open House on Saturday, Nov. 3. Parents and children can visit with teachers and participate in activities from 1-3 p.m. Guests can also tour campus classrooms, gymnasium and studios for student learning in Preschool through Grade 8.
Founded in 1984 on 15 acres, Cedar Crest is surrounded by coniferous forest and borders the Clinton River Watershed via Bridge Lake in North Oakland County. Bette Moen is the founder and her daughter Tracy Moen is the director of Cedar Crest Academy, bringing more than 30 years of teaching experience to the academy.
Cedar Crest Academy provides Preschool (Cedar Crest Early Childhood Center) and Kindergarten Prep for students aged 2 ½ to 5 years old. The school offers accelerated academics, foreign language instruction, art and music specials and physical education (including strength training, yoga, and fitness) which are part of every school day. Cedar Crest Academy Timbers play soccer, volleyball, and basketball and participate in track and field.
The facility also offers outdoor adventure camps in the summer which include swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and crafts. For more information or to schedule a tour at Cedar Crest Academy, visit www.cedarcrestacademy.com or call 248- 625-7270.
BY BRENDA DOMINICK