New Brunswick

Immersion cuts hit a sour note with diva

An international opera star is lending her voice to the fight over early French immersion in New Brunswick.

An international opera star is lending her voice to the fight over early French immersion in New Brunswick.

About 300 students and parents welcomed soprano Measha Brueggergosman into a Grade 5 classroom at the Park Street Elementary School in Fredericton on Friday.

An alumna of the school, Brueggergosman, 30, helped launched a new music program, but her message wasn't just about the arts in education.

"It's quite amazing to be able to come back and sing with these kids and know, at least for the time being, there's still French immersion here," Brueggergosman said.

Brueggergosman went through the French immersion program, which is slated to be eliminated in September, at Park Street Elementary School.

French immersion and music are the two elements of her early education that shaped who she is today, said the singer.

Brueggergosman was at the school promoting a new "music in math" program that is meant to help engage students engage with learning through the arts.

The cross-subject instruction keeps students engaged, said Education Minister Kelly Lamrock.

"What you're seeing today is that you can use music and art to create a more engaging classroom that's also teaching math skill, literary skills, so the kids are far more engaged than sitting still in a chair," Lamrock said.

Pushed back to Grade 5

The new program comes as part of the province's efforts to inject more resources into music, art and physical education. The lengthened class times that will be provided to the subjects come partly because of the province's elimination of its early French immersion program.

Beginning in September, parents will no longer be able to register their children into the early French immersion program in English schools. The core French program, which required all students to take French as a mandatory single class subject, has also been pushed back until Grade 5.

Brueggergosman applauded the program but said it shouldn't come at the expense of teaching children a second language.

"If you can add arts programs and know that's an effective way to teach children, it's a no-brainer that early immersion shouldn't be cut," Brueggergosman said.

Parents shouldn't give up on their fight to keep the French immersion program in New Brunswick's English schools, Brueggergosman said.

"It doesn't need to be cut, and the people who have the power are the voters, and they need to take that power back," Brueggergosman said.