© Maureen Coulter/The Guardian
Paula Biggar, left, minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy, hands the key to the school and community to Elizabeth Blake and Nathalie Arsenault. Members of the community were invited to the grand opening celebration at École François-Buote and the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean March 30 to see the extensive renovations and expansion that took place over a three year period.
A French school in Charlottetown has expanded and gone through extensive renovations to help accommodate their growing number of students.
École François-Buote and the Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean held a grand opening March 15 to show the 54,000 square feet of new and renovated space at their school and community centre.
Members of the community, students, staff and government officials were in attendance for the event.
The French school now features more classrooms including a new high school wing, additional space for an early childhood centre, a music room, science lab, a trades technology section for technical education along with an expansion of the gymnasium and cafeteria.
“We had no storage, we had no office spaces,” said Elizabeth Blake, principal at École François-Buote. “The VP (vice-principal), the principal and the secretary were sharing a classroom waiting for renovations to happen.”
The three-phase renovation started in 2012 and finished in late 2015 with a $10 million budget from the provincial and federal government.
“We are a very academic school…now we can offer all of it- the whole package,” said Blake.
The kindergarten to Grade 12 school, which opened in 1991, has doubled in students over the past 25 years. There are currently more than 300 students who go to the school.
Blake said she would like to see that number double again in the coming years.
The school’s biggest issue is retaining students, especially those in high school, and Blake feels these new changes will help students want to stay.
“Some of them would stay because French education was truly important to them but a few of them, they were going to bigger and better…they were thinking ‘I’m going to go to a high school that offers this’," said Blake. “Now we offer it, so now they don’t need to go.”