A French Immersion program could be coming to Vermilion Parish schools in the next few years. The school board will vote Thursday on adding the curriculum, which could help preserve the history and culture of the parish.
"We’ve been approached by people in the community to start a French immersion program and we did some research and there was a pilot program way back that Vermilion Parish participated in like in 1972 for a couple of years and a number of our schools participated, so we’re kind of going back to where we were decades ago," says Ellen Arceneaux, from the Vermilion Parish School Board.
Part of that demand, they say, is to keep French alive in the area.
"This is one of the largest speaking French communities in the state of Louisiana. It’s our heritage. We have a lot of our mamas and papas who speak French, but the current generation does not. A lot of young students understand but they can’t speak or write," says Superintendent Jerome Puyau.
For Puyau, French immersion is a program near and dear to him.
"In fact, it’s very personal because my father in New Orleans was one of the pilots in 1972. So we had six schools here in Vermilion Parish, and there were two in New Orleans and my father’s school, he was the principal," says Puyau.
If approved, French immersion classes wouldn’t begin until the 2019-2020 school year. The school board would later decide at which school it would implement the program.
"We are going to survey parents and interest to see if it’s one or two, what areas, what schools, but it’s going to start in a kindergarten in a school that has the numbers that can support a French immersion classroom," says Puyau.