David Saint-Jacques Secondary School aims to open its doors to francophone students in Mar. 2020, the first of its kind in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.
The school’s first semester was in Sept. of 2019 as a part of Elementary School L’Harmonie, in Waterloo, teaching approximately 48 students in Grade 7 and 8.
When the school transitions to its new building in Mar. this year, it’s expected to add Grade 9 through 12 by 2021 and have the student population grow by 30 per cent each year after that according to Laurent Brisebois, the director of David Saint-Jacques.
Brisebois describes the students to be very excited and proud to make the transition into the new school building.
Along with the various educational resources, it will include a full-sized gym, computer science lab, robotics lab, art room, music room, and a virtual reality system for teaching.
IB programs will also be available to the students to enrich both academic and personal achievement.
With these resources, the school will allow the students to grow intellectually while freely embodying their francophone identity.
Brisebois highlights that the “vision is to really build 21st century learners. So, in terms of being good citizens, being involved in [their] community, in terms of being aware of what’s out there, and using tools to improve the world around [them].”
Not only will the students be encouraged to thrive in academics but, also to explore what is out in their community and contribute to it using their francophone identity as an added bonus.
“It’s hard to find francophone connections, sometimes, in the community,” Brisebois adds
However, whenever resources are found in the community, Brisebois said the school strives to embrace and use those connections for the education of students.
Parents also play a role in creating those connections with universities or other workplaces that are able to embody the French language.
Parental involvement has also played a role in creating a family-oriented environment within the school.
The requirement for a student to have at least one French-speaking parent makes this very easy to have parent volunteers involved with field trips, fundraising, school dances, and bake sales, all while still upholding francophone integrity.
Furthermore, Brisebois reports there has been no difficulty in finding fluent French teachers to maintain constant French language to the ear of those in the school.
Once the school opens, it will be having an Open House on Mar. 30, open to both students, their families, and the community as a means to promote the school accompanied by traditional Quebecois food and music.
With the event, David Saint-Jacques plans to publicize to the surrounding community what the school has to offer.
The secondary school also plans to reach out and allow the community to use its soccer field and benches in what Brisebois said will be an attempt to create more unity with the community surrounding the school building.
The new building is expected to provide more space for the students where the francophone culture is continually nurtured in all that they do.
In this way, KW’s young francophones will have a place for themselves, marking a major milestone for the community.