Hours before the sun rose on Monday morning, parents were lining up outside of École Harrison.
It was open registration day for the 2013-14 kindergarten class at Brandon’s only single-track French immersion school. With a limited number of spaces, parents wanted to make sure their child didn’t miss out.
Andrew Seitz arrived at the school around 4:40 a.m., where there were already two other parents waiting. As time went on, the number of people in line increased to more than 20.
“It was cold, everybody was wearing ski suits,” Seitz said. “But it was well worth doing to invest in my son’s education.”
Seitz attended the information meeting last month, and is hopeful his son Tommy, 4, will be able to begin his schooling at École Harrison next fall.
“I was very impressed by the school following the presentation,” he said. “We find it brings a new way of learning to youngsters in a very positive environment.”
By the time principal Craig Laluk arrived shortly after 8 a.m., he estimates the lineup included between 20 to 30 people.
“It’s great to see that kind of demand,” Laluk said. “It’s good that we can continue to be popular for families, it’s a great option for kids … they’ve been achieving very nicely in French immersion. I just wish we could take them all.”
The office began taking registrations at 8:30 a.m. Parents won’t know whether their child has a spot until late March or early April.
“There’s a number of things that have to happen. The school division needs to finalize its budget, we need to be given our staffing allocations from senior admin for next year and start crafting our instructional plan,” Laluk said.
Registrations are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Families with children already attending the school have priority and had the opportunity to register at an earlier date.
“We feel it’s prudent to … take care of families and not separate siblings,” Laluk said.
The number of kindergarten spots for the 2013-14 year is not yet known, but Laluk said it is likely to be similar to the current number of 42.
“We come up with that number in consultation with senior administration,” he said, adding they will also be factoring in the provincial mandate to limit class sizes to 20 students for kindergarten to Grade 3 classrooms by 2017.
The single-track French immersion school was established in September 2010. All assemblies, announcements and hallway conversations are in French, which provides students with authentic real-life experiences with the language.
Currently in its third year, the program’s popularity has continued to grow. Over the years, some families have been turned away because the much sought-after kindergarten spots fill up quickly.
Most are still able to get into the École New Era School dual-track French immersion program, which incorporates French and English programs.