Students learning in French at Rossland’s Ecole des Sept-Sommets won’t have to leave town to continue their education next fall.
The school has announced it will be expanding in September to include Grade 8 and 9 curriculum.
“I think it’s wonderful,” says Marie-Josée Beaulieu, the school’s principal. “If it’s something the parents wish, and we can serve our community better, it’s only good for the kids and their families. So we’re very happy.”
Beaulieu says the decision was made in late November by the trustees of School District 93, the administration that governs ESS.
The push to expand the school came last year, after lobbying by parents of students graduating from Grade 7.
“We had a group of parents who went to the parents advisory council and asked for Grade 8 and 9 to be opened at the school, for their children to further their education in French as their first language,” she says.
Beaulieu said the parents and children wanted to continue at ESS.
“Unfortunately it was a bit late to offer it this year, but they went through with a survey to our school community, and through our PAC and trustee and he went back to our board office in Richmond,” she explained.
Beaulieu says the decision was made easier by the fact the school has empty classrooms in its building, so the expansion won’t require any major capital investments. While one new staff person may be hired, she says existing staff will also contribute to delivering the curriculum.
“We have lots of staff qualified to teach high-school grades,” she says. “We hope to offer something that will look a lot more like a high school, with various teachers.”
She says ESS will be able to offer a complete high school curriculum in French for students, including science, math, arts, social studies, and other courses.
The initial intake won’t be large: six students are attending Grade 7 now, and 11 are in Grade 6. She expects a handful of graduated students may return from other schools to attend Grade 9, but if not, they’ll offer that grade the following year.
Those numbers should grow as more students move up the system.
About 80 students now attend ESS, from junior kindergarten to Grade 7.
Beaulieu says the school is now accepting registrations for students to attend Grade 8 and 9 next September, and any parents who want their children to attend should let the school know now.