Owen Honeycutt recently amazed an audience and the mayor of his town when he asked in fluent Mandarin Chinese, "I study Chinese right now and was wondering if you think it will be useful to me in the future here in Denver?"
Honeycutt, a student at Denver International School, in Denver, Colo., is the son of Michelle Honeycutt. His great-grandparents are Pearline Smith of Campbellsville and the late Robert L. Smith.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper did not hesitate in his answer - once the question was translated for him - "Yes, Chinese is one of the fastest growing languages in the world and it will be extremely useful to speak and understand Chinese in the future."
Hickenlooper had been speaking about the importance of becoming "multicultural citizens" at the kick-off celebration of the 30th anniversary year of the school.
During the celebration of multilingual education, Hickenlooper joined school executive director Adam Sexton, parents, students and consulate representatives from Mexico, Costa Rica and Canada at the first of what will be a year of anniversary events at the school and throughout the community.
Parents and guests were impressed by fourth grade students using their learned language to welcome them and direct them to their seats. Many of these students only speak English in the home.
Hickenlooper stressed that with travel and business the world is a much smaller place today.
"Giving your child the gift of a second language is one of the greatest gifts parents can give."