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Late French immersion in question

About a dozen parents lined up Tuesday to register their kids for Whistler’s first French immersion program, but whether the program goes ahead was still being discussed as Pique went to press Wednesday.



The French immersion program, which is scheduled to start in the fall, requires 30 students. School board officials would not say Wednesday how many students registered.

"We live in a country with two official languages and we need to offer our children the opportunity to be fluent in both languages," said parent Irene Wood, who waited for about 25 minutes Tuesday morning to register her Grade 6 daughter.

The Howe Sound School Board passed a recommendation at their last board meeting to offer a registration program for Grade 5/6 late French immersion, in Whistler. The decision followed months of investigation into immersion by parents and school officials.

Preliminary findings suggested that most parents wanted immersion started in Kindergarten/Grade 1. But the board decided to back late immersion because of concerns that an early program, which could grow to as much as 40 per cent of the school population over time, would be too disruptive to the existing elementary programs.

The findings also suggested that there was not enough interest among parents to start a late immersion program, which needs 30 students to be feasible.

Previously school superintendent Dr. Rick Erickson said the school district might consider supporting late immersion even if there are not enough students initially. Part of that strategy is also to allow parents of students going into Grade 6 to register for late immersion, which normally starts in Grade 5.

The school board was to look at the registration numbers at its meeting Wednesday and decide whether or not to go forward with immersion.

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