A North Carolina school has become a national model for its bilingual curriculum that offers students of different origins an education in both English and Spanish.

When the eighth-grade students at Charlotte's Collinswood Language Academy finish their classes next month they will be the first group to complete one of the most innovative programs for bilingual education in the United States.

"If they'd let me choose my school, this would be ideal," Dr. Wayne Thomas, well-known researcher of bilingual education and professor emeritus of George Mason University, told Efe.

Thomas and education consultant Virginia Collier recently visited Collinswood and were highly impressed by the academic level of the students.

"We have observed many schools with curricula in two languages in 20 years of experience, and this is definitely one of the best," Collier said.

One of the classrooms the experts visited was Liliana Forero's, where eighth-graders discuss - in Spanish - the reasons why students drop out of high school.

Students of both Hispanic and Anglo origins expressed their ideas clearly and commented on the material provided by the teacher.

Collinswood preschool students are immersed most of the time in Spanish, and spend just 45 minutes a day in English.

In grades 1-5, students receive 50 percent of their normal classes like math, social studies and reading in Spanish, and the other 50 percent learning English and sciences in that language.

Students in grades 6-8 continue receiving mathematics, social studies and Spanish classes in that language, and science and most of the electives in English.

So it is that Antonella Rendon, of Ecuadorian parents, and classmate Jordan Meeks, express themselves easily in both languages.

Principal Nicolette Grant noted the "incredible benefits of learning in two languages" that have led to such honors as the Spanish Education Ministry's International Spanish Academy School of the Year award. EFE