Tomah High School will offer a Global Education Achievement Certificate to students studying foreign language and world culture beginning next year.

The certificate will be available to students who complete requirements, including four years of a foreign language, participation in International Club and completion of a community service project.

“They have to broaden their horizons outside of school,” said Michael Bartz, the head of the foreign language department at the high school.

The school instituted the program to honor foreign language students’ achievements and help draw more students to foreign language studies.

“It’s what we are doing already. We wanted a way to celebrate that success,” said Bartz.

The largest requirement for the certificate is a 20-hour community service project.

“It’s not volunteering. It’s much more involved than that,” Bartz said.

Students must complete a project connected to a global community or issue that is pre-approved by Bartz.

“They can work with me; they can work with other foundations and organizations in the area,” Bartz said.

Bartz suggested students ask organizations like the Remembering Jesse Parker Foundation or Tomah Rotary Club for ideas and direction for the project.

To receive the certificate, students are required to meet coursework requirements, including four credits of a foreign language and four credits from a list of 10 classes.

Students will read a book a year and write a one-page reflection essay on how the book altered their perspective.

“It’s books that deal with global issues or themes,” Bartz said.

Bartz has worked with the high school librarian to put together a list of 180 books for students to choose from.

Students must also view one piece of foreign media, such as a book, film or play, and write a reflection essay.

Certificate requirements also include school-sponsored activities, like four years of International Club and participation in some sort of foreign language immersion activity.

“They could go to Germany with me. They could go to Costa Rica,” Bartz said.

Students could also host a foreign exchange student or be a foreign exchange student.

“Once they complete that, we have a way to honor that achievement,” Bartz said.

Students will receive the certificate and a note on their transcript and be entitled to wear “Global” cords while they walk across the stage at graduation.

The certificate will be offered to students who complete the requirements in their four years of high school, beginning with the Class of 2015.

This year’s juniors will have the requirement to participate in International Club all four years waived.

“They will have to go back and complete those reflections,” Bartz said.

The certificate will give students a chance to stand out on college and scholarship applications.

“I think a lot of that is what colleges are looking for and employers, as well,” Bartz said.

The work required for the certificate will give students a chance to learn and grow on a more personal level.

“It’s going to give students the chance to work on those leadership responsibilities, leadership qualities and roles,” Bartz said.

The community service project will help show students what they are capable of, according to Bartz.

“There’s a value of them knowing they had an opportunity to change the world,” Bartz said.

For more information, email Bartz at michaelbartz@tomah.k12.wi.us.

Jourdan Vian is a columnist and reporter covering local government in the city of La Crosse. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

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