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Parents filling French class

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 23/05) - Enough Yellowknife parents have expressed interest in a new early French immersion program at J.H. Sissons to ensure that it starts in September of 2005.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 board members voted to try French immersion at the kindergarten level at a meeting February 21.

Mel Pardy, assistant superintendent of education at Yk No. 1, says enough for two classrooms would be "a pleasant surprise."

Parents can register right up to the first day of school. Kindergarten registration has been open at the district since late February.

The kindergarten to Grade 5 school currently offers middle French immersion. Kids then continue on to William McDonald school for Grade 6-8 French programs.

Kindergarten French immersion students may find themselves in a split K/Grade 1 class next year as well.

A series of sample mornings for parents still on the fence about a choice for their young ones is proving popular.

Twenty-six parents have signed up for the sessions, where parents join their children to sit in on five sample half-days in the classroom with a teacher. They will run from April to May at J.H. Sissons school.

"Parents have a lot of different concerns about what it's (early French immersion) going to look like. They want to see how the child is going to react in a French environment," Pardy says.

Given the controversy raised by parents and teachers over changes to the current French programming, Pardy says the interest is heartening.

The sample sessions are so packed that the district is already thinking about offering more.

"If the numbers grow any bigger than they are right now, we may have to expand the sessions," says Pardy.

Parents will then have until the fall to decide if French immersion is a good fit for their kids.