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French Immersion Archives

History of French Immersion in Red Deer Public Schools

Beginning at Grandview

In 1980-81, an Early French Immersion Program was implemented at the kindergarten level in Red Deer. The program was under the auspices of the French Canadian Association of Red Deer. In 1981-82, the RDPSD assumed responsibility for the program and extended it to Grade 2. In the Fall of 1983-84, the program was extended to Grade 3.

After a review of the program, the Board determined that the program would be extended to Grade 6 (elementary schools were K-6 at that time), and adopted the recommendation to select a junior high school to accommodate French Immersion students as they moved to Grade 7 at Central Junior High School. Only one high school existed in the public division, so it was understood that French Immersion would eventually move to LTCHS.

Move to Mountview

The French Immersion program moved to École Mountview School in 1985, when the decision was made to continue the program to Grade 6. The number of registrants in the program grew quite dramatically, from the 16 students in the first Immersion class, so that at one point there were two Immersion classes for every one English class at Mountview. Mountview continues to offer a dual track English-French Immersion program.

Expansion to Fairview, North of the River

In the fall of 1986-87, the French Immersion Program expanded to include a second elementary school program which was housed at Fairview Elementary. The French Immersion Program continued to grow in this new setting and before long it was difficult for the buses to manoeuver as there was only one road leading to and from the school. Traffic congestion was a serious problem. Fortunately Oriole Park School was b eing renovated and enlarged. It could accommodate the French Immersion Program and its anticipated growth, as well as provide better access for traffic. In 1990 the northside program moved to Oriole Park.

Expansion to Oriole Park

École Oriole Park School opened as a nine room school in the fall of 1964, serving the new subdivision of the same name. Several years of continuous growth in the neighborhood, however, created a need for added space. Consequently two new classrooms were added in 1971 and four more in 1972. More renovations occurred during 1990-91, with the addition of eleven new classrooms, and a substantially enlarged library and gymnasium. At the same time, a major modernization of the existing school was also completed. The new classroom space enabled the school to add the RDPSD's French Immersion program, for the north side of Red Deer, as well as for several neighborhoods south of the river. The north side program had been housed for a brief time at Fairview Elementary but moved to Oriole Park in 1990. The additional space allowed the program to grow. The dual track school then offered both English and French Immersion Programs.

French Immersion at École Intermediaire Central Middle School

Rob Porkka was first teacher of the first class of 12 grade 7 students in the Fall of 1986. The program kept growing year after year. In 1989, a Late Immersion (starting in Grade 7) was started. It was maintained for 2 years and then abandoned. In 1995, a Late Immersion program was introduced again after it became a middle school. The students begin in Grade 6. The first group graduated in 2002.

Extension to Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School

The first French Immersion class graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in 1993. There were only 10 students who achieved this goal, but it was an excellent percentage considering there were only 16 who began in kindergarten. Each year has seen that number grow. In 1998, the lead group of late French Immersion students graduated in the spring of 2002. Larger numbers have allowed expanded course offerings. The first groups received instruction in French Language Arts and Social Studies from two teachers. Todays students are offered Physical Education, Math, Biology, Physics, CALM and Information Processing.

Expansion to Barrie Wilson Elementary, East Red Deer

A third dual track French Immersion Elementary school opened September 2014. Barrie Wilson is a K-5 dual track school with both a French Immersion and a regular English program serving approximately 500 students.

Ecole Barrie Wilson is built on a foundation that supports students in working hard to fulfill their potential and to experience growth and success.

École Barrie Wilson School focuses on developing 21st century student competencies through a Project Based Learning (PBL) approach as outlined in Inspiring Education. The school is outfitted with new technology which students will be expected to access on a daily basis. Student growth and success will be supported by a Positive Behaviour & Intervention Supports (PBIS) framework in order to create a positive school culture.  

French Immersion - Newspaper 1997

French Immersion - Newspaper 2001

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