“Le Lac du Bois est un programme d?immersion linguistique et culturelle qui n?a pas son pareil au monde.” That’s where M. and her classmate’s are for the weekend. She was really excited, and I hope she’s having a great time. I tried to get to take the digital camera, but I guess she’s afraid of breaking. Hope to get her over that…I think see took a film camera.
If you want, click on READ MORE below to read the article that recently appeared in the St. Paul paper.
Posted on Wed, Feb. 25, 2004
Continuez, s’il vous plait
BY JOHN WELBES
The parents who pioneered St. Paul’s popular L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion elementary school hoped that someday the program would continue into junior high.
So they were pleasantly surprised to find out recently that the first group of graduating sixth-graders won’t have to bid adieu to advanced language instruction next year. A new district program will let L’Etoile du Nord students continue their intensive language work at Highland Park Junior High.
“By sixth grade we know they’re proficient” in French, said Fatima Lawson, L’Etoile du Nord’s principal. “We want them to maintain it.”
Students from St. Paul’s Adams Spanish Immersion school already can continue on to a junior high program at Highland Park, a process called articulation. The French program will follow a similar model but differ in which courses are offered.
At Highland Park, students would take literature and social studies in French, in addition to continued French language courses, Lawson said. Math, science and other courses would be taught in English. In the Spanish immersion junior high program, math and science courses are available in Spanish.
About 13 students ? nearly all the French Immersion sixth-graders ? plan to attend Highland Park’s program, including Megan Tarnow’s son, Keefe.
“I don’t think that any of us anticipated that they would articulate because there aren’t many of them,” she said.
This year’s sixth-graders weren’t the first group to start kindergarten at L’Etoile du Nord, but they’re the first to stay with the program through all the primary grades. The program started at Highland Park Elementary and had a difficult time finding a home before moving into the former St. Andrew’s Catholic School in the fall of 2002.
“We were the early adopters,” Tarnow said. “I’m just glad there will be a continuation of French,” she added. “It wouldn’t make any sense to put these kids in a typical junior high French class.”
The St. Paul district is currently looking for ways to balance a $12 million budget deficit for next school year, but the expense of expanding the French immersion program was kept in check. Current staff at Highland Park who teach French will provide the lessons, Lawson said.
The district searched for a junior high to house the continuation of the program last fall, she added. The field was narrowed to Highland Park or Washington Technology Magnet. Highland got the nod because of its staffing and available space.
While overall elementary enrollment in the St. Paul public schools is on a downward trend, the French immersion program is quickly outgrowing its current space. L’Etoile du Nord has 73 kindergarteners and 70 first-graders, compared to smaller groups of 51 in second grade and 37 in third.
Demand is strong for slots in next year’s kindergarten class as well, Lawson said. Classrooms in L’Etoile du Nord’s current home are already packed and the district is discussing what the program will need if it keeps growing at its current pace.
“Definitely, we’d need more space,” she said.
John Welbes covers the St. Paul school district. He can be reached at email@example.com