Victoria parents camp overnight to get kids into French immersion

At least 40 parents lined up at Lansdowne Middle School where there are less than 30 spots available

How far would you go to secure a second-language education for your child?

Some parents were willing to brave the elements and camped out in tents outside Lansdowne Middle School Sunday night in hopes of guaranteeing their child a first-come, first-serve spot in the school’s late entry French immersion (LFI) program.

After the Greater Victoria School District dropped the program from Central Middle School, dozens of parents attempted to get their kids a coveted spot as they enter grade six – the final opportunity to enter the program.

French classes at Cedar Hill Middle School were set to be disbanded as well, but the program was renewed for one more year after parents showed concern about the sudden cancellation.

RELATED: School district reconsiders late French for Cedar Hill, but Central is out

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The school accepts less than 30 students to the program each year and by 8 a.m Monday morning, there were over 40 parents in line.

“In a bilingual country, it seems unfair that not everyone can have a [French education],” said parent Caitlin Davies.

Davies considers herself one of the lucky ones. Her daughter is already in the LFI program, giving her son priority in getting a spot as he enters sixth grade this fall.

At least 41 parents were in line for the program, which accepts less than 30 each year. (Nina Grossman/Black Press)

“I’m in a very fortunate position, but as I see a lot of my friends and neighbours and colleagues with children entering grade six — now because of the District’s decisions — it changes things,” Davies said. “A woman right behind me had a two-month old baby, she got them all up and got them over here…at 7 a.m. and that’s still not good enough…that child will likely not get what she was hoping for.”

Lansdowne Middle School vice principal Hilary Braid-Skolski said the lineup of parents was expected, and they saw roughly the same number as they did last year.

“The dedication of families was really impressive. There were people camping out overnight,” she said. “The first person got here at midnight. You can imagine their dedication to be doing that in the middle of January.”

“It’s sort of the last opportunity to do immersion,” she added. “[Parents] are trying to give their kids an opportunity at learning a second language.”

RELATED: Lottery system coming to SD62 for French immersion, nature kindergarten registration

RELATED: Kindergarten registration for SD61 starts on Monday


 

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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