The culture and languages of the Far East could be coming to the classrooms of Haverhill High School by next September.
Superintendent James Scully said he and Haverhill High Principal Bernard Nangle are working to bring Asian cultural studies and Mandarin language classes to the high school for the next school year.
Scully announced the high school's plans following a discussion at a School Committee meeting raised by committee member Paul Magliocchetti on the importance of bringing eastern languages to the high school and, eventually to the middle schools.
"Things are moving away from the Western European culture we were all raised in," Magliocchetti said. "We are very much a global economy."
Scully agreed with Magliocchetti's assessment of the changing market and the need for the school district to adapt for the sake of students.
"I want to give them every edge," Scully said.
Nangle said two Haverhill High teachers have expressed an interest in teaching the courses so far: Ellen Mullane, an art and history teacher, and Na Lu, a physics teacher hired this year.
Lu expressed an interest teaching the Mandarin language earlier this year during her interview with the district, but the district wouldn't have had enough to time to develop a curriculum before the school year began, Nangle said.
"We plan to add it as an afternoon activity next year," Nangle said. "But if there is enough student interest, we will add it to our world language program as a regular offering."
Lu, who taught English while living in China, said she looks forward to teaching her native language.
"I can definitely see the potential," she said. "It'll be very interesting to have Mandarin classes."
Lu said learning Mandarin is difficult due to the language's reliance upon voice inflection, but said students could understand if they showed enough dedication.
"As long as they have passion, language is a skill everyone can learn," she said.
Mullane's proposed course, tentatively titled "Asian Studies," would combine studies of eastern history, art and cultural traditions. Nangle said the school will poll students later this year to determine their interest in the class.
"Haverhill High offers the most extensive curriculum in the Merrimack Valley and continues to add to our vast elective offerings to keep our students engaged," he said. "I admire both of these young ladies in offering both of these course and stepping out of their comfort zone of their expertise and training to instruct our students."
Besides Mandarin courses, Magliocchetti added he'd like to see the district eventually add languages spoken in Brazil, Russia and India.
"They're becoming an economic force," he said. "We have to move with the times."
Magliocchetti said he would also be in favor of dropping or adding languages to adapt with students' needs and demands.
Haverhill High offers courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Ancient Greek.