School board members want to turn Frank Porter Graham Elementary School into a magnet school.
About 200 people showed up and most pleaded with the Chapel Hill Carrboro Schools board to keep a Mandarin language program intact.
Students and staff are worried about what will happen if school officials convert it from a neighborhood school to a magnet to accommodate a Spanish dual program.
Some call it a risky experiment.
"Why would you even consider changing something that is clearly working in favor of something that may not work at all," said Frank Porter Graham staff member Tiffany Harrish.
The plan would dismantle a Mandarin language program. Several in the audience wore red to defend the Chinese program, including several immigrant families from Burma.
"The program gives the children an opportunity to compete in the 21st century," said concerned parent George Zuo.
Zuo and Jacky Zhu said their kids would have to go to a different school, which would tear their community apart.
"We have no problem with dual language," said Zhu, "but we just don't want our school, our situation to be just interrupted and to our family, our community that walk to our school to be just pushed all over the district.
A final decision on the issue will not be made until June.