Penn Hills freshman starts petition urging district to add higher-level language course
Penn Hills High School students are circulating a petition to bring back high-level German language classes cut last year.
“When we signed up for German in eighth grade, we were promised a spot when we got to high school,” said Ryland Amato, a freshman who started the petition drive.
Today, German II — with enrollment of about 45 students — is the highest level taught at Penn Hills. Budget cuts eliminated one of the teaching positions that allowed the district to offer German III last year.
“Unfortunately, we had to curtail some of the curriculum,” said Renel Williams, the district's director of learning and assessment.
The state mandates that schools have at least one foreign language class that students have the option to take for four years. Spanish is offered to meet that requirement at Penn Hills. Four teachers teach those classes, including an Advanced Placement course.
Amato doesn't think that's fair.
“If you have enough students signing up for it, you should have it,” he said, adding that 40 of the students taking German now want to advance to level III.
According to the petition, students were surprised to learn they cannot proceed beyond the second-year level.
Williams said she looked into providing cyber classes as a solution for next year, but they aren't available.
“If we can find a way meet the request, we will do what we can,” she said about the petition drive.
President Erin Vecchio said the school board is “trying our best” to reinstate the class as an option for students, but provided no other details to comfort Amato.
“I'm hoping that Mrs. Vecchio will find a way to get it done,” Amato said.
Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Freelance writer Christine Manganas contributed.