Area students are currently enjoying spring break and most likely appreciate the time off but, after renovating and moving into their new premises in the former MacLean Elementary, the staff of Rossland’s école des Sept-Sommets are probably appreciating the down time as much as the kids.
“It’s been really good, a bit hectic mid-school year but things are going well,” said Marie-Josée Beaulieu, Directice (French for principal) of the francophone school.
“For us moving into a larger school has made a real difference. When we were in the annex one of the classrooms was in a hallway but now it’s looking good. The paint is done, everything is fixed, it’s like a new school for us.”
The new, larger, facility has even allowed for growth that would have been impossible in their former space across the street in the former MacLean School Annex building.
“We’ve got a real gym, large classes, we’re looking at expanding now that we have space,” said Beaulieu.
“Our enrolment is up a little bit from the 45 students we had last year. We’re hoping at some point to maybe offer Grade 7 and Grade 8 classes, electives, organized sports.”
The history that the elementary school building has in the community is not lost on its new tenants.
“Our school has been in the community for some time now and everything has been very positive, the community has welcomed us,” Pierre Claveau, the director of public relations for the francophone school district, said from Vancouver.
“We know we are on sacred ground in this new school and we appreciate the opportunity. My duty is to make sure it is a community school, we believe we need to be part of the collective. In September it will be a brand new year and we want to welcome the community to our school.”
Even with enrolment up almost 20 per cent over last year the student body isn’t enough to completely fill the new space and the school is hoping to lease some of the unused space in the building, which would help to offset the costs.
The looming threat of a province wide teacher’s strike has the staff at the école as uneasy as it does the rest of the schools in the area.
“Our teachers are members of the B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF),” Beaulieu said. “People think it’s a private school but we’re part of the B.C. public school system. A strike would affect us like it would affect any school.”
With the new facility Beaulieu is hoping to keep the school growing, expanding what they can offer to students and even drawing students from a wider area.
“Hopefully the program keeps growing. If we have more students we could offer more varied services,” she said.
“We’d like to have students not just from Rossland. Right now we have a couple from Warfield but none from Trail but it could be organized if we can make a transportation deal with School District 20.”