Starting to think about schools for the fall? If your family has a French connection, consider École La Prairie! It’s one of 19 schools teaching in French as a first language in Central and Northern Alberta, all part of the Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord.
- French first, English too: Students at École La Prairie receive Francophone instruction in school and extracurricular activities, right from kindergarten. “About half of our kindergarten students speak very little French at the beginning of the year, and our kindergarten teachers use hand gestures, pictures and other tools to help students understand and feel comfortable. In higher grades, we offer English as a Second Language classes to students who need extra support to polish their English grammar,” Principal Jean Doyon says. “Our Grade 12 students complete the same English Language Arts exam as every student across Alberta, and we consistently perform as well or better than Anglophone schools. Students graduate fluent in both languages.” Francophone graduates have skills that set them up for personal and professional success throughout the country and around the world.
- Cultural connection: Students learn all aspects of the provincial education program, and more. “As a Francophone school, we, along with guidance and input from the school board, the Conseil Scolaire Centre-Nord, build up cultural and French identity through music, presentations, and varied programming. By choosing École La Prairie, families are contributing to the vitality of the Francophone community in the province,” Principal Doyon says. The school reflects the diversity of the French community in Alberta, preparing students to be global citizens with comprehensive cultural education.
- Bilingual support for parents: Over half of the families who attend École La Prairie include one parent who doesn’t speak French, so you’re not alone! If you’d like extra support, École La Prairie is happy to help — they can even partner you with another family for translation help.
- Tight-knit community: École La Prairie has about 150 students from kindergarten to Grade 12, giving the school a family atmosphere. “Students take care of each other — older kids who take the same bus as younger ones will carry them on their backs or help zip up their coats. We have mentorship programs to encourage that community,” Principal Doyon says. Smaller class sizes means teachers get to know their students’ personal and academic needs, and take the time to customize support. “Sometimes students are tempted to transfer to a bigger high school for their final years, but the ones who stay recognize that they get better academic support here.”
- Music, sports and outdoor education: Even with a small student body, École La Prairie offers extensive extracurriculars. The band and sports teams compete in festivals and tournaments across Alberta, and classes take advantage of Kin Kanyon Park for hikes and science education. Students also have the opportunity to participate in French-only events like the Francophone Games or French Mock Parliament.
- All day kindergarten: École La Prairie offers full-day kindergarten, at no extra charge to parents. It’s a great resource for families, and especially useful for kids who need extra help picking up French. There’s before and after school care for students of all ages, too.
- Free bus transport beyond Red Deer: École La Prairie serves Red Deer and communities within 50 kilometres of the city, and there’s no extra cost for the school bus.
To be eligible for French-language education, students need to meet one of the following conditions:
- One or both parents learned French as their first language, and still understand it.
- One or both parents received their primary school education in French as a first language.
- At least one sibling received (or is receiving) their primary or secondary school education in French as a first language.
If you need help determining your eligibility, Principal Doyon and the school staff are happy to help. Visit lp.centrenord.ab.ca to learn more, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. To ask questions or book a tour, call 403-343-0060 or email email@example.com.