Peretti Scholars: Creation and Development of Conversational Spanish Program

Project location: UNITED STATES, Boston
Project start date: September 2016 - Project end date: October 2018
Project number: 2015-019
Beneficiary: Boston College High School

In the United States educational system, the way in which students learn second languages does not adequately prepare them to participate in, and contribute to, an increasingly globalized society.  While they learn the technical structures of language, they are not equipped with the skills and abilities to engage in conversation (according to some stats, only 14 percent of US students are bilingual compared to 80 percent of European students).  BC High and the Hyde Center for Global Education propose a new language track for students that focuses on the development of conversational, refined language skills - skills that prepare students to embrace all that travel, culture, global relationships and global enterprise have to offer - skills that make students more complete people. 

The Nando Peretti Foundation, awarded a grant for this project to offer a program, starting from eighth grade and continuing through high school, which focuses on the development and mastery of conversational Spanish language skills.  Students enrolled in the Peretti Conversational Spanish Program will join a cohort of students who have chosen to engage in a path of global citizenship and will be recognized as having done so at graduation.  "Peretti Scholars," will not only elect to enroll in a conversational Spanish track during the academic year, but will also engage in a series of summer programs that will focus on experiential learning opportunities through academic study, community service at the local level and virtual partnerships  - all 100 percent in Spanish. During their junior year, students will participate in an academic immersion program with Jesuit schools in Barcelona, Spain. The network of Jesuit education in Spain is already a willing partner in this initiative. We anticipate this program to begin in Spanish, but eventually to expand to Chinese and French (funded separately).

BC High recognizes that its students need to be more adequately prepared to succeed and effectively contribute to an increasingly globalized society.  By creating this program, BC High will be able to supplement and compliment the modern language program by providing the space, program and necessary resources to prepare BC High students to be certifiably conversational in Spanish. 

The Peretti Spanish Program will begin in academic year 2016-2017 with the inaugural class of approximately 20 students.  This cohort of students will enroll in a four year conversational Spanish program and will be required to complete a six week intensive summer seminar, a service project based in a multicultural local community, and spend six weeks in Barcelona through an academic exchange program designed specifically to meet the needs of this proposed program.   The academic program during the school year will call for the implementation of a brand new curriculum that will be designed and created with a new methodology of teaching Spanish.  This new curriculum will be designed for each year of the four-year program. Each year after 2016, a new class will start in eighth grade with the established course work and complimentary summer programs throughout four years.  Peretti Scholars will participate in the Advanced Placement Spanish Language course during their final year of high school.

Throughout the program, students will be continuously evaluated by a licensed language certification agency (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) to ensure compliance with program goals.

The first class of Peretti Scholars will begin in September 2016, although the creation of the program curriculum and complimentary summer programs will begin immediately.  For each of the first four years of this program, a new program will be launched until the first four-year cycle is complete.  New cohorts of Peretti Scholars will be added each year.


Academic Year

Project Task




·         Curriculum Development

·         Marketing

·         Barcelona Program Relationship Agreement

·         Program Enrollment


·         Inaugural cohort of Peretti Scholars

·         Inaugural summer program


·         1st cohort moves to year 2, 2nd cohort begins

·         1st year of ACTFL certification begins


·         1st two cohorts move to years 2 and 3

·         Inaugural summer of multicultural community service

·         2nd round of ACTFL certification begins

·         3rd cohort begins


·         1st three cohorts advance

·         4th cohort begins

·         1st cohort culminates program by participating in full immersion exchange program in Barcelona, Spain


Practically speaking, Peretti Scholars will graduate high school as fluent conversational speakers of the Spanish language; an accomplishment that is unfortunately rare in most US high school systems.  Equally important, their own self-perception as global citizens will be validated by their acquirement of skills that allow them to contribute to an increasingly globalized society.  Their volunteer work in multicultural local communities will help them to understand, and act accordingly, that global education truly begins in local communities. As leaders in the worldwide network of Jesuit education, we anticipate that the successful results of our program will automatically be held it up as a model for other Jesuit, and even non-Jesuit schools, to follow.  The scope and impact of our program has incredible potential to reach far beyond the initial cohort of Peretti Scholars at BC High.
think global, act local
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