A combining of the city’s two junior highs into one won’t be the only change students of the new Corner Brook Intermediate will see come September.
The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is introducing a late French immersion program at the school.
About 27 Grade 7 students, enough for one class, have signed up to study in French.
The class will learn the same curriculum as their peers in the English program, the only difference is that some subjects will be taught in French.
It’s a program that George Keeping, assistant director of programs for the western region, said is common on the east coast. It’s just the first time for the western region.
Until now only early French immersion has been offered on the west coast starting in kindergarten at C.C. Loughlin in Corner Brook and Stephenville Primary in Stephenville.
“This year when the two schools came together the two principals at the time wanted to explore that (late French immersion) as an option for us,” said Keeping.
“The reason we’re moving forward with it is the program works for children. It’s later, but you do have three years to go through and get the skills that you need.”
Keeping said there can be a lot of anxiety for parents when it comes to putting their children in early French immersion at kindergarten.
“And it’s kind of like a second chance,” he said of the program starting in junior high.
In Grades 7 and 8 a minimum of 75 per cent of instruction will be provided in French in French language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health and religion.
In Grade 9 the amount drops to 30 per cent in French language arts, science, social studies and religion.
By Grade 9 early and late French immersion students study about the same percentage of French.
In high school the minimum is also 30 per cent of instruction in French.
Keeping said as the late French immersion students move into high school they will be meshed with the early French immersion students.
To prepare for the program the board is currently advertising for a full-time late French immersion teacher for the junior high.
It’s also held meetings with parents and the program specialists from western and eastern so that parents would get an understanding of how the program runs.
“So that they would be going into it knowing all the facts that they need,” said Keeping.
“In the sessions that we had parents were told that the first little while it’s going to be difficult for children,” he said.
“And they were told, you’ve just got to stay with it, because it’s tough initially. And as you move through it, it becomes easier and easier,” he said.
“You know you’re changing. You’re going into a new language in junior high, but the program has been successful. Students do well with it.”