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Nov 26, 2008  |  Vote 0    0

Final phase of construction starts on Barrhaven French Catholic school

École élémentaire catholique Jean-Robert-Gauthier beginning to transform into secondary school

Ottawa East News

Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française du Centre-Est broke ground on the last phase of construction leading to the completion of a new Barrhaven French Catholic secondary school on Nov. 19.

The new school would bring an end to the long bus trips for current students in Barrhaven who must be bused to Collège catholique Franco-Ouest in Bells Corners or to École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité in the Alta Vista area.

“Our students from the Barrhaven area are being bused to Nepean right now,” said Roxanne Deevey, director of communications for the school board.

Both of the existing schools are currently overcrowded and needing relief. For example, Franco-Ouest already has 14 portables to accommodate students and if the new secondary school were not built, it would need to expand to 32 portables by 2014.

Deevey said that the new school will also help the school board retain students they are currently losing to French immersion programs at the English secondary schools in the area.

“Yes we do suspect that we are losing students presently to the French immersion programs in some of the other English language high schools because our French language high schools are over populated or they’re just too far away,” she said. “We’re hoping to recoup some of those students.”

The school is set to open its doors to Grades 7 and 8 in 2009 and through to Grade 12 in 2010. Currently the school École élémentaire catholique Jean-Robert-Gauthier operates out of the present building. Once the extension is built, those students will be moved to a new elementary school.

Once all the grades are incorporated in 2010, the board expects about 632 students to enrol with that number growing to about 906 by 2018.

When completed, the school will include nine intermediate and eight secondary classrooms, science and computer labs and visual arts rooms.

Aside from classrooms, the school will also contain a cafeteria, library, pastoral services, a chapel and a student credit union.

While the school will not be able offer the same facilities as the new public secondary school in the Longfields-Davidson Heights area, Deevey hopes students and parents can get past that to realize the quality of the programming offered at its school.

“It’s very difficult for French language schools to compete with English language schools in terms of facilities often because our potential clientele is never as extensive as it would be for an English language secondary school just because we’re talking about a minority community,” she said. “We do think we’ll be able to compensate in other ways in terms of the quality of our programs. Our students do very well on provincial tests. We’re hoping our parents will notice that.”

She said the school will offer a full range of programs upon opening its doors, including specialized programs. Such programs will be decided on following the official opening of the school.

jennifer.young@nepeanthisweek.com

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