ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – An Anchorage elementary school has launched a language immersion program in Yup’ik for a kindergarten class.

Alaska Public Media reports Lorina Warren teaches her kindergarten class at College Gate Elementary in only the Yup’ik language for about half the day.

The Anchorage School District has language immersion programs in German, Spanish and Japanese, but it lacked an Alaska Native language program until this year.

School Principal Darrell Berntsen says the best way to ensure a language doesn’t die is by teaching children how to speak it. He says the time was right to teach a Native language in an Anchorage school.

Through the program, the district aims for the students to be fluent in the language by the time they graduate from high school.

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