New English primary school opening for Lanaudière and Laurentians
The Lanaudière region of Quebec will have a brand new English-language elementary school for the 2024 school year, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board announced last week.
The school — which will be built in Saint-Lin-Laurentides about 60 kilometres north of Montreal — will serve 384 students for the regions of Lanaudière and the Laurentians.
Adam Gordon, chair of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Parents' Committee, said he is delighted with the news.
"It shows that English-language education is very much alive and thriving and that people want it to continue to exist and need it," said Gordon.
"This is a major point of pride, and it shows that our population is continuing to grow and that there is demand for English education, despite what our government might try to convince others."
Paolo Galati, chair of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, described the project as "exciting."
According to Galati, the school will help accommodate the growing demand for English schooling in the Lanaudière and Laurentian regions, and it will also reduce the overcrowding in four of the regions' other English elementary schools.
The two regions have seen a major population boom in recent years and are the fastest growing regions in the province since 2018.
Close to home
Children eligible for English school in the region often have to travel long distances from their homes to schools, but the new school should help with that, said Galati.
Gordon agreed. "These kids who will be serviced by this new school, some of them are taking as many as two or three different school buses a day just to get to school and spending an hour plus in transportation," he said.
Having a school close to home will make it much easier for parents with young children to be actively engaged in activities like fundraisers or pizza days, said Gordon.
More than a school
The $27-million project will include 16 classrooms, eight collaboration rooms, two sensory rooms, a double gymnasium, a library, a playground and daycare services, according to the school board.
"Our capacity to deal with special-needs kids will be better than a lot of schools that were built years and years ago," said Gordon, adding that many schools are in poor physical condition.
But for Quebecers fighting to safeguard services for the province's English communities, the new school will be more than a place to learn.
"A school for the English-speaking community is more than just a centre for education …especially when you leave the island of Montreal," said Katherine Korakakis, president of Quebec's English Parents' Committee Association.
"They become places where the community comes together where you can have … a place to have extra curricular activities or potlucks or meetings with parents to fundraise."
Vanessa Savella, executive director of English Community Organization of Lanaudière (ECOL) — a non-profit organization that promotes health and well-being of Lanaudière's English-speaking community — described the school as a new opportunity.
A new school means more activities and workshops to protect that community's mental health, she said.
One program Savella would like to bring to the school focuses on building positive social skills in children and helping them manage their anger.
"It's a whole new ball game," she said.