French Immersion plan for LSS to be phased in over two years

Ladysmith Secondary School will need between 30 and 40 students to be viable

A Grade 8 – 9 French Immersion program at Ladysmith Secondary School will need between 30 and 40 students to be viable Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District superintendent John Blain told the Chronicle Wednesday, Dec. 16. And the program will be implemented over two years.

The school district has surveyed parents and students to determine the level of support for a program. A Dec. 8 letter gave them until Dec. 17 to indicate their interest.

“If your child is entering French Immersion Grade 8 or 9 in September 2016, and/or currently in Grade 8 at LSS and attended French Immersion in Grade 7, he/she may indicate interest for Grade 8 or 9 French Immersion at LSS,” the letter said.

The letter said that in “response to a number of expressions of interest from parents” Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District “is looking at the possibility of offering French Immersion for students in Grades 8 and 9 at Ladysmith Secondary School in September of 2016.”

Blain clarified, however, that the intention of the district is to offer only Grade 8 French Immersion in 2016 and Grades 8 and 9 in 2017. There won’t be a Grade 9 FI class in 2016 because students in the southern part of the district have missed Grade 8.

The ‘core group’ of students entering the LSS program would come from Ecole North Oyster, which became a French Immersion elementary school after Ecole Davis Road was closed in June, 2014.

Students at LSS, who want to continue in French Immersion after Grade 9, would have to attend at another campus, likely Nanaimo Secondary School. It would be “highly unlikely” LSS could attract the ‘critical mass’ of students needed to support French Immersion beyond Grade 9, Blain said.

The district hopes offering Grade 8 and 9 French Immersion at LSS will bolster registrations at Ecole North Oyster, because it makes it easier for students to continue in the program after Grade 7. “I would hope it’s one step closer for them, because it gives them two more years,” Blain said.

The district is also hoping the program will help maintain enrollments at LSS, which is expecting a decline as students return to Cedar Secondary School, which will be reopening in Sept. 2016 after the Board reversed a decision to convert it into an elementary school.