The CPF Burns Lake Chapter has created a pamphlet with the format for the letter of intent, some information around the French immersion program as well as interview snippets of alumni of the program. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

The CPF Burns Lake Chapter has created a pamphlet with the format for the letter of intent, some information around the French immersion program as well as interview snippets of alumni of the program. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Several Burns Lake parents trying to save French Immersion

Hoping to get letters of intent to support their efforts to keep the program

The Canadian Parents for French (CPF) Burns Lake Chapter has been making some noise about the importance of the French Immersion program to garner more support from the community to ensure the program stays next year.

On April 20, 2020, a report regarding the French Immersion programs’ review in School District 91 (SD91) was released by the Board of Education of the school district. This review was conducted by AZ Cooper Consulting and submitted to the board after in-person interviews with parents, teachers, students and the union to determine the sustainability of having french immersion programs in the schools in the school district.

The report which detailed enrolments, budget, staffing and curriculum concerns as well as concerns over diversity within the French Immersion (FI) programs at William Konkin Elementary (WKE) in Burns Lake, WL McLeod Elementary School in Vanderhoof and Nechako Valley Secondary School (NVSS) in Vanderhoof recommended eliminating the FI program at WKE.

Later, during a board meeting held on May 2020, the board unanimously voted to table any decisions on the William Konkin Elementary (WKE) school’s French Immersion (FI) program until Spring 2021.

The parents of students currently enrolled in the french immersion program have been rallying to keep the program in place. Elizabeth Berlin, the President of the Burns Lake CPF chapter had given a presentation to the board, listing all the benefits of having the program.

“Our primary effort right now is to get letters of intent right now in to the school district, which is what that big ad in the paper has been about lately. If we get these letters, we will be able to show the school district that several students will be enrolling and showing those enrollment numbers could help with the decision,” said Berlin.

The letters of intent will include the parent’s name confirming that he/she would be enrolling their child in French Immersion at WKE for the upcoming school year. These letters would then have to be sent to the school district Superintendent Manu Madhok and also need to be CC’d to to be entered into a draw for $3 to $50 Burns Lake Chamber bucks that would be drawn at the end of the school year.

“We are also trying to promote the program, we are trying to tell the community that it is here and we want to keep it and share some of the positives of it. So with that in mind, we started a Facebook group called Canadian Parents for French Burns Lake Chapter and we are interviewing alumni, or graduates of this program, having them share how French Immersion affected them and helped them in their lives. So we have those interviews on that page and certainly anyone is welcome to follow that along,” she added.

Berlin also said that the group would be making a presentation to the board.

“The plan is to go back to the board, make a presentation of the work that we are doing, demonstrating that the program is sustainable, and hopefully we have had a number of letters come in by then,” she said.

The group is hoping to have the presentation take place in February.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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