McDowell students say, “Bonjour!” to new program

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French Immersion teachers, Roxanne Gauthier (left) and Céline Maisonneuve, with community-purchased books.

Scott Campbell



French Immersion teachers, Roxanne Gauthier (left) and Céline Maisonneuve, with community-purchased books.

Scott Campbell

SHAWVILLE – With the start of the 2013-14 school calendar, the new French Immersion program has been a welcomed addition at McDowell Elementary School. According to Deb Ellison, grade-3 teacher and staff assistant, there are a total of 38 children enrolled in the 100% French-language instruction for Kindergarten and grade 1. English instruction continues to be offered to these grades as well.
Including the French language program in the school’s curriculum was a major factor in keeping the students located in the building on Centre Street, and not moving them to Pontiac High School. Increasing the school’s enrolment was also cited. “Enrolment has actually increased,” said Ellison. Last year there were a total of 229 students, with 12 in Pre-K; this year there are 246 students, 21 in Pre-K.
French Immersion teachers, Roxanne Gauthier and Céline Maisonneuve, have started getting the children into a routine. “They are motivated,” said Gauthier.
The plan is to add a grade level of French Immersion with every new school year; next year will have grade 2 as well as the K-1. Students from grade 3 to grade 6 will be taught English and Math classes both in the English language, while all other classes will be taught in French.