Chloe Sirges took a step into the dark and then a few great people turned on the lights.
More than one year ago 12-year-old Sirges left the familiarity of primary school at Webster Elementary in Warfield and began Grade 7 at Twin Rivers Elementary in Castlegar.
But it wasn’t the unfamiliarity of a new school that challenged Sirges, it was how her education and social life was changed.
Sirges began the long journey north to Castlegar to enroll in a French immersion school, something that isn’t offered in her hometown of Trail—and she is only one of two students in the program’s enrolment of 60 from Trail.
“The time and organization is a bit of a pain,” she said. “It would be hard (to commute) for someone with parents who both work full time.”
Sirges might not have to make the long commute to school with her mother for long. Later this month when School District 20 (Kootenay Columbia) begins the process of gathering response on starting a similar program in the southern end of the district in Greater Trail.
The first meeting—Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Webster School library—will be the first of four information meetings to gather response on the possible expansion of the late French immersion program.
And judging from Sirges’ response from the first year at a French immersion school, it is a decision she won’t regret.
She said she could go on forever about why other kids should attend French immersion, but to sum it up (and she wrote this 20 times in a row in her agenda): LFI ROCKS.
“I love the teachers, the program is great; it’s not just about learning French out of a book, you actually use it,” she said.
French is great to learn because Canada is bilingual and learning French gives you a leg-up when you apply for a job over other applicants, Sirges added.
SD20 director of instruction Bill Ford said the district needs the feedback from the four meetings to gauge interest in setting up the program somewhere in Greater Trail.
“I’m hoping that work will be done either by Christmas or first thing in the new year,” he said on the prospect of a new program in the area.
The evenings include parent information sessions, a question and answer period, and a teacher, parent and kid panel discussion from people who are already part of a French immersion program in the district.
Through the sessions, Ford said parents will learn the benefits for students, what French immersion would mean for a young person, what the board of education needs to see to make it happen, as well as what the next steps would be.
Subsequent meetings would be held in Fruitvale (Oct. 23, 7 p.m., in the elementary school library), Rossland (Oct. 30, 7 p.m., MacLean Elementary School library) and in Trail (Nov. 6, 7 p.m., Glenmerry Elementary School library).
If you are unable to attend, but are interested in learning more or in sharing your thoughts, contact Bill Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-368-2230.