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Grande Prairie Catholic Schools French Immersion program expanding to O’Brien Lake West

Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools will expand the number of schools the French Immersion program will run in starting in September 2022.

The move will see both the soon-to-be-opened O’Brien Lake West Catholic School and École St-Gérard become French Immersion facilities, starting with Pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 in 2022-2023 and Pre-kindergarten to Grade 9 in 2023-2024.

Superintendent Dr. Jessie Shirley the demand for the French Immersion program has for the need to split up the program as best they can. She says they don’t want to put Pre K-Grade 9 in a facility that is larger than either of the two high schools in the division.

“We’ve had so much support over the years, and we are seeing the rewards of that now with the Pre K-Grande 9 expected to be around 1,000 students, or slightly higher than that,” she says.

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“The current St. Gerards is busting at the seams, so we are so happy to kind of divide that community into two schools that will honestly just be better for teaching and learning.”

Dr. Shirley says opening two immersion facilities schools is a great accomplishment, which couldn’t have been realized without the help of families promoting the value of the program.

“We have wonderful parent support, and of course, the French immersion program is designed for families whose first language is English,” she says.

“It’s a wonderful way to offer your child a bilingual education without worrying about the fact you don’t speak French at home,”

While the Graned Prairie and Area Catholic Schools board has made an initial decision on boundaries for St. Gerard, they will be looking to evaluate how they plan on splitting up the boundaries for both schools in fairly short order.

“We now have to take that boundary and examine it closely and decide,” she says.

“We will have a release in terms of boundaries in the very near future because registration is happening March 2nd, so we want families to know what schools they will be going to.”

Currently, the boundary for St. Gerard French Immersion spans from Highway 43 in the north, down to Highway 667 in the south, and stretches from 100 Street to the eastern border of Grande Prairie.

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