More French students than ever on P.E.I.
'We have 944 kids, there's no reason why we couldn't have 2,000'
Enrolment at French schools in P.E.I. is at an all time high.
There are 944 students in the six Island schools, and they continue to accept new students.
"In the last few years we've had quite a substantial nice increase in P.E.I. considering we're so small," said Anne Bernard-Bourgeois, the superintendent of the French school board.
"I think what we're seeing is the general interest in the general population of people wanting to explore French language education."
There are 112 kindergarten students starting school this year, almost double what it was three years ago.
Bernard-Bourgeois said part of the increase can be attributed to rezoning changes to the English schools in Charlottetown, and from newcomer families looking to learn a third language.
Bigger schools provide more opportunities, said Noah Blaquiere, a Grade 12 student at École François-Buote.
"We're growing in the school but not only that we're able to do more activities for the community, and for our school ourselves, more sports teams, bigger music classes, bigger classes more teachers, more options," he said.
Biggest graduating class
More students also leads to new firsts for the French schools.
"There's been a lot more elementary kids coming and my class will actually be the biggest graduating class ever from this school," said Julie Van Leeuwen, a Grade 12 student at École François-Buote.
The schools originally opened for families who had charter rights to a French education.
Now the schools market themselves to the general population.
The board, however, said it's about more than numbers — it's about keeping a culture and language.
"We have 944 kids, there's no reason why we couldn't have 2,000," Bernard-Bourgeois said.
"It's important for us to see our population of francophones in P.E.I. is not stagnating or going down, it's actually on the rise."
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With files from Laura Meader