"There's a misconception," says Laurent Brisebois, principal of l'école André-Piolat in North Vancouver, "that an education in French doesn't prepare kids for university."
Ecole André-Piolat is part of a network of 40 French language schools in B.C. administered by the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF). Founded in 1990, the school offers an education in French to children of French-speaking parents or those whose siblings have been educated in French.
"In 2015," says M. Brisebois, "our school was ranked fifth in B.C. by the Fraser Institute, and this year we are likely to rank in the top three. We offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program in French and encourage our students to graduate with high school certificates in both French and English."
According to M. Brisebois, students at André-Piolat often go on to study at universities such as McGill or Concordia in Montreal, or the bilingual program at Simon Fraser University.
"Our students have no difficulty being accepted to a university with two languages and an IB program," explains M. Brisebois. "A second language opens up opportunities for students—it's one more tool in their toolbox for succeeding in life."
For the French community on the North Shore, André-Piolat fills a need for a place to meet and socialize outside of school.
"Outside of school activities," says M. Brisebois, "we offer a place for the French community to come together. We have a great Parents' Advisory Committee (PAC) and we have very strong support from our community for all of our social and school events.
At the same time, we're all bilingual so we're also a part of the broader North Shore community."
In 2016, André-Piolat had 425 students, up from 382 in the previous year. For the school year 2017-2018, the school has registered 458 students.
"A lot of school boards are experiencing decreasing enrolment," M. Brisebois says, "but we're growing every year."
For more information about l'école André-Piolat or the CSF and enrolment requirements, check the school's website at http://andrepiolat.csf.bc.ca , call 604.980.6040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. CSF can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.