With all of the holiday festivities ahead, it’s easy for parents to forget that it’s also the height of the school application season. It’s time to consider where your child will attend school next fall.
Every school in the area offers tours, and we highly recommend that parents take them. Lakes International Language Academy encourages parents looking for an academically rigorous and globally focused program to visit our expanding preK-12 campuses in Forest Lake — we have exciting new facilities and much to share about our language immersion and International Baccalaureate schools.
A tour at LILA also allows parents to learn about our unique learning experience and ask questions. One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “How much does it cost?” The answer: “LILA is a public charter school, so we charge no tuition, just like all other public schools.” Truly, there’s no tuition at LILA for kindergarten through grade 12 — even though a comparable education on the East Coast based on an International Baccalaureate curriculum or language immersion would cost about $40,000 a year!
In addition to no tuition, just as you would expect at a traditional public school, all LILA teachers are licensed. We meet all of the Minnesota state standards, too. However, as a charter school, we limit our class sizes. We plan for 25 students in each of our kindergarten Spanish and Chinese immersion classes, led by one teacher and one language ambassador — a recent university teaching graduate and native-language speaker from abroad. This means a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:13 — and lots of opportunity for individualized attention!
At our Upper School for grades 6-12, our class size averages between 21 and 24 students from year to year — one of the lowest in the north metro. Upper School students do not need to have a language-immersion background or any experience with world languages at all. We offer classes in English in addition to immersion continuation options for Chinese and Spanish.
Notably, Minnesota students can enroll at LILA Upper School or Lower School from any district. Friends and relatives from inside or outside the Forest Lake area may attend LILA. We currently attract students from 20 districts around the metro.
Because of the limited seats and high demand for our International Baccalaureate curriculum and proven language instruction, LILA requires parents to apply to enroll their student in our schools. The application is available online at our website, www.MyLILA.org, and should be submitted by Jan. 14 to be included in the enrollment lottery on Jan. 15. The enrollment lottery is just that — we randomly select names until each seat is filled. Once the available seats are filled, we start the waiting list. Most years, we’ve been able to accept everyone who applied by Jan. 14.
As parents consider educational options this season, we like to remind people to carefully think about their values, their hopes and dreams for their child, and their expectations about academic experiences. Look for the school that fits best — we have several outstanding choices in the Forest Lake area.
LILA’s mission is “to prepare tomorrow’s critical thinkers and global citizens through language acquisition and inquiry-driven study.” That mission resonates with parents who value education and its role in society; parents who hope and dream their child will be ready for 21st century careers with the knowledge, open-mindedness, and flexible thinking those jobs will demand; and parents who expect their children to develop character as well as curiosity and compassion as part of their educational experience — excited to explore the world’s places and cultures and put their language skills to work.
Wherever parents choose to apply, my best advice is to submit the application and paperwork early. Do it today! Speaking from experience, every year we’ve had parents who missed the deadline for the Jan. 15 lottery and their child must move to the waiting list. Isn’t it better to start the new year with the enrollment decision made? I think so!
I hope parents celebrate the upcoming festive season with great joy — the kind of joy that comes from knowing they’ve turned in their child’s enrollment application early to their school of choice. Good luck and the happiest of holidays!
Shannon Peterson is the interim executive director of Lakes International Language Academy.