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Parents and students tour new francophone school

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2014 10:28 am

Sister and brother Nicollette and Matthew Aranjo check out the science lab during an open house of the newly opened Ecole Francophone d'Airdrie on April 24.
Sister and brother Nicollette and Matthew Aranjo check out the science lab during an open house of the newly opened Ecole Francophone d'Airdrie on April 24.
Matt Durnan/Rocky View Publishing

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There was an air of excitement buzzing throughout the halls of the newly opened Ecole Francophone d’Airdrie on April 24.

In many ways it was like the first day of school, as Principal Martin Camirand hosted an open house for parents and students to tour the new $12-million building in Ravenswood.

“It’s been a long time that we’ve been waiting for this school to open,” said Camirand.

“It’s a chance for these kids to finally have a normal school with everything under one roof like a cafeteria and a gym.”

For the past year, students have been taking up residence at Genesis Place Recreation Centre and its portables. The school was squeezed into a space of around 4,000 square feet.

The newly opened school is nearly 14,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 400 students.

Camirand said he expects a student body of about 325 next school year, ranging from kindergarten up to Grade 11. At its capacity the school will house students up to Grade 12.

Ecole Francophone d’Airdrie has a 25-person staff that includes teachers and administrators that will grow as the student population grows.

The students were bustling with excitement on April 24 as they led their parents through the school’s hallways and in and out of classrooms.

Grade 4 student Donovan Gaudreault wasn’t saddened by having to leave the confines of portables at Genesis Place.

“It’s way better here, the classrooms are so much bigger and now I don’t have to take buses anymore,” he said.

Gaudreault’s mother Dawn shared in her son’s excitement and was glad Donovan would be getting his education in a quality facility.

“All the services and resources he needs are all in one place,” said Dawn.

“With everything here it’s a better chance for him to focus and learn.”

The school boasts a music room, assembly area, a project room and a state-of-the-art science room.

James Aranjo along with his wife Yajaira, and two children, Grade 3 student Nicollette and Grade 7 student Matthew, spent time in the science lab during the open house.

“It’s a wonderful school with some top-notch equipment and learning tools,” said Aranjo. “It’s a lot of the smaller things you notice here too; things like the water fountains and sinks in the bathrooms are all at the proper height for the kids.”

The layout of the school appealed to Matthew, as the school is essentially divided into two halves, with junior high and high school students on one side and elementary students on the other.

“It’s nice to have multiple hallways and the school is kind of in sections,” he said. “We don’t have to share bathrooms with the younger kids anymore either, they can be a bit messy.”

More space for students means more space for teachers as well, and the school’s Community Liaison Officer Joelle Croteau-Willard commended the staff.

“To describe the previous environment as tight quarters would be a large understatement,” said Croteau-Willard.

“The administration and teaching staff has had an incredible amount of feats to overcome to get here and as a school, they have truly triumphed time and time again over the adversity they have faced.”


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