LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Spanish is just one of four foreign languages offered at Logan High School, and it is an important one.

“The population of native Spanish speakers in this country is growing rapidly,” said Logan High School Sophomore Sophie Hilker, “so I thought this would be a useful skill to have.”

Hilker has been taking Spanish since middle school.

“It's really fascinating to me to be able to communicate in two completely different languages,” said Hilker.

Her Spanish teacher says Sophie's future boss may find this skill fascinating, as well.

“A lot of employers or jobs... they are actually paid more to use their foreign language skills,” said Rhonda McGowan, Logan High School global coordinator.

Ms. McGowan has been teaching Spanish for 22 years. She knows the benefits of learning a second language.

“Students that learn a foreign language really have many opportunities available to them once they graduate,” said McGowan. “Not only from high school, but from college; many doors open for them.”

And the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction hopes the new Global Education Achievement Certificate will help open even more doors.

“They really wanted to encourage global competence in students at the state of Wisconsin,” said Sandy Brauer, supervisor of world languages and social studies for the School District of La Crosse. “They were hearing from businesses and institutes of higher education how important it was. And they really wanted a way to validate that kids really knew global competence and that they were skilled in it.”

Brauer  was on the task force that developed this certificate. When the D.P.I. announced the program this fall, the La Crosse District applied immediately.

“Kids really need these skills,” said Brauer. “I really believe it's not just a nice to know, but it's really to the point where it's necessary to know in order to be successful in our global economy.”

Students applying for the certificate will need to complete four years of a foreign language, 20 hours of global community service, and specific courses that are global in nature.

“So the focus throughout the whole semester course or the year-long course is global,” said McGowan. “Anything from global issues to world humanities or world history.”

There are already 40 Logan High School students who are on track for the Certificate. Sophie is one of them.

“It's a really cool opportunity that I can get credit and get recognition for doing all this work that I would have done anyways, because I have that fascination with world culture and world language,” said Hilker.

And in today's global economy, her fascination could really pay off.