BHUSD Board Considers Hebrew Lessons for Middle Schoolers

Students at Beverly Vista Middle School now have the opportunity to enroll in an elective Hebrew language class. Over the past few weeks, school staff have surveyed middle and elementary school students and families to gage interest in Hebrew classes. At the Feb. 28 Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy presented the findings.

“Everything that we do is always on student interest,” Bregy said. “That’s what makes programs successful.” While board members were supportive of the initiative, they cautioned staff against rushing to create a new language program without thorough examination. Since administrators are looking to potentially roll out the program starting in the 2024-25 school year, middle schoolers can take advantage of an afterschool option in the meantime. 

According to Bregy, 41 seventh and eighth grade students have signed up for the new after school Hebrew language enrichment course, which meets twice a week at the high school campus from March 7 through April 21. The district is using funds from an extended learning opportunities grant to finance the course. Students will learn how to read and write the Hebrew alphabet, and advance their listening, speaking, reading, and writing language skills. The class also includes discussion of Israeli culture and traditions.

At the elementary level, 85 fifth and sixth graders responded to a survey indicating that they would be interested in taking a Hebrew language class, knowing it would take the place of another elective. 

“We’re excited about that number,” Dr. Bregy said. “That could be three sections of Hebrew.”

On the agenda as a discussion item only, the cabinet also reviewed adding Foreign Language in the Elementary School. “We’re kind of late in the planning for the additions to foreign language,” Bregy said, recommending that a design committee be formed to study the matter. With six different specialized areas of study currently offered to elementary students, “this would be bringing another one, and so something’s going to have to go,” Bregy noted. “I want to make sure that we take some time looking at the implications of such a decision.”

Board President Noah Margo raised concerns about maintaining the quality of education, adding “I don’t want to sacrifice that just to add one more thing to the menu. We have to put reading and writing and mathematics first.”

“I understand that we’re pulling our kids out of these K-5 classes for a lot of these special activities, and we can’t pull them out any more than we’re already pulling them out,” Margo said. “So, something’s got to give if that happens.”

While the board didn’t discuss the item at its Feb. 28 meeting, the search for a new Beverly Hills High School principal remains ongoing. While three candidates were advanced to a second round of interviews, Bregy did not make a recommendation to the board for the position. However, the board did approve a resolution releasing certificated employees, allowing the high school to return to a one-principal model.