BY SYDNEY WIDELL —
Students studying foreign language will soon have an opportunity to be recognized for their accomplishments. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction just approved Shorewood High School as a participant in the Global Education Achievement Certificate (GEAC), a new program designed to recognize students who excel in areas of global studies and actively participate in activities with an international focus.
“This is the first year they’re offering schools the opportunity to apply. We were just approved,” said Evan Schmidt, French teacher. SHS is one of the first schools to be accepted into the GEAC program.
“It’s an excellent addition to the opportunities offered here at Shorewood,” said Eric Gietzen, English teacher.
The GEAC is designed to encourage students to pursue global studies and become more aware of the world around them.
“It is a great opportunity to explore other cultures,” said Gietzen.
To receive the honor, students must meet GAEC standards in four areas.
“[This program] recognizes students who have strong interests in everything international, from language to history to authors to art to painters to artists,” said Schmidt. “We have sports teams for athletes, an amazing theatre program, but we don’t really have anything that acknowledges students [interested in] global affairs.”
Academically, GEAC recipients must take four years of a foreign language and must also have four credits from non-language courses with an international focus. At Shorewood, these might include African, European or Asian Studies, Classical and Modern Literature and AP Art History. Students must pass these required classes with a B or above to maintain eligibility.
Secondly, students must reflect on eight artifacts of a global nature, four being books. A GEAC coordinator will assess these reflections.
Students must also demonstrate active participation in clubs and events that have a global component. At Shorewood, involvement in AFS, Amnesty International, Guatemala Club, Model UN or Youth Haiti are acceptable ways to fulfill this requirement.
Lastly, students are asked to give back to their community through 20 hours of service work with an international nature.
All students who fulfill these criteria can be presented the certificate, including current seniors, and all classes taken can be used retroactively.
The award will be administered during graduation, along with the participant’s diploma. In addition, every year one teacher who has demonstrated exemplary instruction in an area of global studies will be selected for statewide recognition.
Teachers, like Gietzen, who are familiar with GEAC, are supportive of the program.
“It [will] challenge students to look outside of their own worldviews, which is important, but also outside of other points in history … and those diverse perspectives are exactly what high school students need to not only build a foundation as US citizens, but as global citizens,” said Gietzen.
“Any time you can make those cross-curricular connections is great,” said Sarah Millia, Spanish teacher.
“Anything that makes people take a broader perspective on their world [is good],” said Debra Schwinn, social studies teacher.
The GEAC has also been receiving good reviews from state entities, and has heralded international attention.
The program originated at Plymouth High School, in Plymouth, and was further improved and standardized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.