GPCSD expands its French immersion program
The Grande Prairie Catholic School Division and District (GPCSD) will expand its French immersion program to another school this fall.
O’Brien Lake West and École St-Gérard will be single-track French immersion schools in the GPCSD.
Previously, only St-Gérard School offered the program, from pre-kindergarten to grade 7.
The program will be available next year in both schools from pre-kindergarten to grade 8 and will be extended to grade 9 during the 2023-2024 school year.
French immersion benefits students by honoring Canada’s second language and bringing French culture and heritage to students, said GPCSD Superintendent Jessie Shirley.
“Learning a second language, especially during childhood, fosters creativity and actually improves math problem-solving skills,” she said.
“It certainly fosters a sense of compassion when dealing with diverse cultures, so the benefits are endless.”
École St-Gérard currently welcomes approximately 800 immersion students from pre-kindergarten to grade 7.
Shirley says the division plans to see about 1,000 K-9 French immersion students in the 2023-24 school year.
The board decided that having two schools instead of just expanding St-Gérard School would benefit the students.
“It will definitely benefit the teaching and learning inside these buildings and make them more community and family oriented if we can reduce the size,” Shirley said.
One advantage of the GPCSD immersion program is that it is single-track.
“We are proud that our immersion program is a single-track program, which means that every student in the building is involved in immersion,” explained Shirley.
“Anyone considering enrolling their child in immersion will not only receive a top quality education, but the parenting community is also thriving in the immersion community.
“I really think it gives us a sense of community, bringing family and school together.”
She explained that the program is designed for English-speaking families and that parents do not need to speak French to enroll their children in the immersion program.
Registration will open on March 3 and the GPCSD will announce specific limits in the coming weeks, so that parents know which immersion establishment their child will attend.
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