2021 was a year of firsts for Ameila Huval and her mother Emily.
The five-year-old started school where only French would be spoken.
"Her learning in French, I thought was very important...especially when I heard of all the benefits of learning in another language," Emily said.
Emily said she grew up learning French but had no one to practice with and over the years lost most of what she was taught.
"Learning with her, I'm like I know how to say that. I don't speak it very well but I'm learning."
"I know every French," Amelia said.
"Do you teach your parents?" I asked.
"Yes," Ameila answered.
"How does that make you feel?" I asked.
"Happy," Ameila said.
Across the hall, in the first grade is 7-year-old Jonathon.
Spanish is his first language, English his second and now he is learning French as a third.
"I can say "hi" in French," Jonathon said. "When we go to France, we'll be speaking French and my mom and dad will want to know what to say. I can show them. It's a good thing that I know French."
Lindsay Smythe is the principal of Ecole St. Landry and said the school is her passion project. She said this will give parents an option when it comes to where their kids go to school.
"Any parent in St. Landry Parish can say, I like this model of education, I hear good things about it....a bilingual brain is a better brain then other children," Smythe said. "Having that opportunity for our kids means the world to me. We want parents and students in the public system in St. Landry Parish. Where else can we give this opportunity that doesn't exist anywhere else in parish."
While it has only been five months since the school opened, Smythe says she is seeing the fruits of their labor.
"What I hear from the parents is that my child is coming home and speaking French, I don't speak French," Smythe said. "Stories like that warm my heart, I hate that for the parents, but it's clear they're already comfortable saying the things they already know. We're in month five now, so you see the biggest change in our first graders. They're older and more cognitive. Even in our kindergarten students, it's amazing to see what happens."
To learn more about Ecole St. Landry or to apply, click here.