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Students excited to see their French-language school in Tignish expanding

The library at École Pierre-Chiasson has been converted to a classroom to accommodate a growing student population. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The library at École Pierre-Chiasson has been converted to a classroom to accommodate a growing student population. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada - image credit)

There has been big growth in the number of students at École Pierre-Chiasson in western Prince Edward Island, and now the school is in the middle of an expansion to accommodate them.

"We have no room. Our school is very small for the amount of people that's in it, so I'm really excited," says Grade 9 student Nevaeh Dutcher.

"I'm sometimes in the class with the Grade 10s or the Grade 8s, so it'll be good for us all to be separated since there's different age groups and we're learning different things."

Since 2014, enrolment at the Tignish-area school has gone from 66 to 115 students. Grade 9 student Sofie Arsenault has watched it happen.

There will be more than twice as many students in the coming kindergarten class than there were when Sofie Arsenault was that age. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada)

"When I arrived in kindergarten, we only had six of us, but we have 14 of them coming [now]," she said. "It's a big change between now and then."

The $720,000 expansion will add two classrooms. The foundation was laid in December, and the new space will be ready for students this September.

Nevaeh Dutcher is looking forward to being in a class with just Grade 10 students next year. More lockers will be nice too, she says. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada)

Acting principal Raquel Wells calls it a good start.

"We're very excited to see our school grow," said Wells. "It is a first step in what we hope is going to be a larger expansion to accommodate all of the needs we have here at our school."

Acting principal Raquel Wells is hoping for news of a further expansion soon. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada)

Growth is being driven by more families taking advantage of the opportunity for a French-language education for their children, she said.

The school was never designed to accommodate more than 100 students. It is renting two rooms from the community centre, the library has been converted into a classroom, and classes are being held in the industrial arts room and the student lounge. One of the high school classrooms is now being used by elementary students.

The current expansion won't solve all those problems, said Wells.

The addition to the building will mean a smaller playground. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada)

"Two classes is definitely not enough. It's a temporary solution to a good problem," she said. "We will hope for a larger expansion, hopefully in the near future."

On the wish list is a larger gym. The current one is designed for elementary school students, and a full-size gym would provide opportunities for the school's growing high school population.