Spanish Immersion graduation students

Lancaster Mennonite’s Spanish Immersion program began 12 years ago with a pilot class of first graders. These students spent their days in the immersion model with teachers who used the entire school day to instruct them in another language so that students would become bilingual in Spanish.

Though the program has changed and been strengthened over time, it has consistently developed Spanish language competency through its use in all educational content rather than including language as an additional content area of study. In Kindergarten through 5th grade, all academic subjects are taught in Spanish rather than separately teaching the language itself. In 3rd through 5th grade, students have a daily English class that focuses on strengthening writing and spelling. Then, throughout 6th to 8th grade, students switch to the maintenance phase and have two daily classes in Spanish and the rest in English. 

In High School, immersion students can take AP Spanish classes to continue their Spanish experience. By the time they complete the immersion program, students reach native-like proficiency in Spanish, while developing increased cultural awareness. Learn more about Spanish Immersion – click here.

This spring, six students from the original first grade class are preparing to graduate from LM. It’s an exciting accomplishment for this growing program! We caught up with each of them to hear their takeaways and memories from Spanish Immersion. 

Where are they now?

Abby Brubaker, 12th grader

The most valuable part of being in the Spanish Immersion program was being exposed to other cultures, and their cultural practices, as well as retaining and improving my Spanish. My ability to speak, write, and read fluently in Spanish will open more job opportunities for me and help me to be a more valuable global citizen. 

  • La parte más valiosa de mi tiempo en el programa de SI fue mi exposición a muchas culturas y sus prácticas culturales, y también una manera en que pude conservar y mejorar mi español. Mi capacidad de hablar, escribir, y leer con fluidez en español abrirá más oportunidades en el lugar de trabajo y me ayudará a ser un ciudadano global más valioso. 


Alana Stoltzfus, 12th grader 

The Spanish Immersion program provided me with many fond memories, but overall I enjoyed connecting with a small group of people while being able to learn another language. Getting a chance to learn about a variety of cultures and ways of life is something that I will definitely take with me from this program. 

  • El programa inmersión me dió muchos buenos recuerdos, pero en general disfruté conectando con un pequeño grupo de personas y aprendiendo otra lengua.Tener la oportunidad de aprender sobre diferentes culturas y formas de vida es algo que me llevaré de este programa.


Caleb Metzler, 12th grader 

My fondest memories are of the parties that we had to learn about different cultures. One thing I’ll take with me from Spanish Immersion is definitely the Spanish language itself and being a more considerate global citizen as an adult. 

  • Un recuerdo divertido que tengo de mis años de inmersión es de las fiestas en que aprendí de otras culturas. Una cosa que voy a llevar conmigo del programa de SI es el idioma español en sí mismo y ser un ciudadano global más considerado como adulto.



Dylan Porter, 12th grader

In the program we worked with friends to complete many projects in class to learn about Spanish-speaking countries. I’m excited that I can talk to people who speak a different language, especially when traveling to other countries. 

  • En el programa trabajamos con amigos para completar muchos proyectos en clase para aprender sobre los países que hablan español. Estoy emocionado de poder hablar con personas que hablan un idioma diferente, especialmente cuando viajo a otros países.



Davin Esbenshade, 12th grader 

Something fun that we did in the program was creating a world map in middle school to show accurate country sizes. It was valuable getting to learn a new language and experiencing the many cultures that utilize that language, and I’ll take with me the gift of being able to talk with more people in their own language.

  • Algo divertido que hicimos en el programa fue crear un mapa del mundo en la escuela secundaria para mostrar los tamaños exactos de los países. Fue valioso tener la oportunidad de aprender un nuevo idioma y conocer todas las culturas que utilizan ese idioma, y me llevaré el regalo de hablar con más personas en su propio idioma. 


Emma Wilson, 12th grader 

Spanish Immersion (SI) helped me learn about other cultures and have that awareness from a young age. I also enjoyed reading a lot of books in Spanish. Because of this program, I have a more global mindset and connect with a greater variety of people. 

  • Spanish Immersion (SI) me ayudó a aprender sobre otras culturas y tener esa conciencia desde una edad temprana. También disfruté leyendo muchos libros en español. Este programa me ayudó a tener una actitud más global y me ayudó a conectar con una mayor variedad de personas


Going Forward

LM seeks to ‘Build Bridges of Peace’ and to ‘Cultivate Global Citizens’, and there is no better way to accomplish these goals than to nurture cultural understanding and develop students that are bilingual. Other benefits to the program include building empathy and social skills, broader career opportunities, and strengthened problem solving and critical thinking skills. 

Jenn Esbenshade“It’s exciting to see the long term positive effects for these 12th grade students as they prepare to start the next chapter in their lives, and we look forward to the next twelve years of Spanish Immersion!”, Jenn Esbenshade, Curriculum and Spanish Immersion Director.

Immersion programs are the fastest growing and most effective type of world language instruction currently available. Placements in the Lancaster Mennonite program as a kindergartener are very popular, and families are often placed on a waitlist. Visit our website to learn more about the Spanish Immersion Program.