A group of students at Carrboro High School have taken the initiative to teach foreign languages to students at Culbreth Middle School.

For about a year now, Carrboro High School senior Lee Mook and some other student volunteers have been teaching classes every Thursday at Culbreth Middle School.

The classes are held between the drowsy hours of 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. Carrboro High School Junior Maddie MacMillan is one of the volunteer teachers. She admits she’s not a “morning person,” but she’s happy to be there, regardless.

“It’s so much fun going to Culbreth every morning,” she says. “The amount of motivation that the Culbreth students have is outstanding. I’m blown away by every single day.”

MacMillan will be taking over the leadership of the Language for Youth program next year after Mook, its creator, graduates. And there’s talk of expanding it to other schools.

Mook says he got the idea for the program when he noticed the small number of students enrolled in Chinese-language classes at Carrboro High. That puzzled him.

“It started as just an idea I had to go to Culbreth Middle School and teach Chinese language,” he says. “From studying Chinese for a couple of years, I’d seen that it was a very, very important thing in the world, and that it would continue to be important.”

Mook credits Culbreth Middle School Principal Beverly Rudolph for being so receptive to his idea.

“Middle schoolers don’t have the opportunity to take Chinese classes,” he says, “and so the first time they’re getting the chance to do it is in high school.”

What started as one Chinese-language class has snowballed into around 50 students learning Spanish French, Chinese, Japanese and German from teachers that are just a couple of years older than themselves.

Academically & Intellectually Gifted Specialist Helen Motta of Culbreth Middle School has also been instrumental in the program’s success. For one thing, she helped out with advertising the program to potential students and teachers.

After that, she says, the program sells itself:

“Once they started coming, they keep coming, because the classes are fun, and they learn a lot.”