When All Souls World Language School in Alhambra held its June 7 graduation, four 13-year-old eighth-graders were ready for promotion.

That in itself was quite a feat.

The Catholic school that began in 1921 as an integral part of the community was forced to close in 2010 for attendance and financial restraints. But in an attempt to reflect the diversity of the city it represented, it soon reopened as part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Catholic Schools’ Dual Language Immersion program.

It was also the first to have a pair of dual language programs — Mandarin and Spanish — be part of the curriculum.

“We’re the phoenix rising from the ashes,” said Vivian Vasquez-Hernandez, the school’s director of enrichment and after-school program as well as a graduate of the All Souls Catholic School in 1995.

Children from families identifying as Catholic represent 75 percent of the 320 students enrolled for the 2019-20 school session. While almost half (46 percent) are of Hispanic and Latino heritage, nearly one in three (29 percent) are multiracial, with 18 percent as Asian or Pacific Islander.

As a result of the multilanguage immersion, students who specialize in one of two languages “really are exposed to a third language in daily prayers and Masses and all sorts of activities, so all of that is celebrated,” said Vasquez-Hernandez.

Benjamin Velasquez, also an alum of the school in 2006 who currently works in the front office, added: “It is fun to give tours to families and see the parents comment about how the classrooms are so diverse, particularly families with Asian backgrounds in a Spanish classroom. That’s what they like to see.”

Full story at Angelus News.