Conseil scolaire francophone: helping build a bilingual community

When l'école secondaire Jules-Verne opened its doors in 2008, most of the classrooms were empty.

"We had about 187 high school students at the time," says Claude Martin, principal of Jules-Verne. "Most of the classrooms were filled with students from the elementary school, l'école Rose-des-Vents. Now we have around 320 students in the high school."

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Both Jules-Verne and Rose-des-Vents, along with another elementary school in the Killarney area, l'école Anne-Hébert, are part of the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF), or the Francophone School District 93. The CSF is part of the public education system in B.C. and offers education in French to francophone children in a number of communities around the province.

"One of our challenges," notes M. Martin, "is making sure that the elementary school students from Rose-des-Ventsand Anne-Hébertcontinue their education with us as they move into high school. Parents love the elementary side but when the kids reach high school, they worry that an education in French will affect their chances of attending an Anglophone university."

On the contrary, students graduating from Jules-Verne are fluently bilingual.

"It's a huge advantage," M. Martin says. "Every March, we're visited by someone from the government to meet our grade 12 students to offer them employment. Being bilingual is a real asset."

Jules-Verne also offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program, with core courses such as math, science, history and art taught completely in French.

"But there's a strong English language component," says M. Martin. "We make sure that when our students graduate, they have two first languages."

For more information about l'école secondaire Jules-Verne or the CSF, please check the school's website at http://julesverne.csf.bc.ca, call 604.731.8378 or email claude_martin@csf.bc.ca. CSF can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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