It might have been overshadowed by the opening of Begbie View Elementary, but for the students, parents and staff at Ecole des Glaciers, Revelstoke’s new French school, there was just as much excitement in class on Thursday.
“I’m really excited but really confident and super happy for this project because we’ve been waiting for a couple years,” said Julie Martel, the school’s lone teacher.
Ecole des Glaciers opened on Thursday with 10 students from kindergarten to grade two registered – less than expected – but still enough. They, along with their parents, and staff from the Francophone School Board of B.C., were in a celebratory mood for the opening.
“I’m very, very proud as superintendent of schools that this happening,” said Mario Cyr, the superintendent of the Francophone School Board. “I’m confident it will grow and the whole community will be proud of it.”
The school is the board’s 37th in the province. They brought out cake, coffee, fruit and juice for the opening.
Radio Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC sent a reporter to Revelstoke to cover the opening of Ecole des Glaciers.
For the parents, the opening marked the culmination of years of work to establish a French school in Revelstoke. After years of dashed hopes, they finally gained enough interest in the community for the school to open.
Pierre Claveau, the spokesperson for the school board, said he expects the school will grow to 40–50 students within the next five years.
“There’s an, ‘If you build it, they will come factor,'” he said. In future years more grades will be added as the school grows.
Martel was part of the group of parents trying to get the school established and she has two sons in the class. She taught high school in Quebec before moving to Canmore, Alta. There, she taught a similarly small French school in a majority Anglophone community. That school grew from 25 students to more than 100 in her six years there.
She will be assisted in her teaching duties by Marieve Poirier-Payette.
The new school is located in a spare classroom inside Arrow Heights Elementary. Martel said she will look at ways of collaborating with the other school on projects.
“We’ll learn from them and they’ll learn from us,” she said.