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Construction work of Maritimes' first French international school in Saint John nears completion


In nine month's time a new school will open in Saint John, N.B., that will stand out among not only other institutions in the city, but in all of Atlantic Canada.

The Lycée International Français des Provinces Atlantiques (LIFPA) is a not-for-profit school model that offers French teachings based on the French national education curriculum. The school will be located in Market Square at the former site of the New Brunswick Museum exhibition centre.

The school will also have daycare services available. The space will be able to house well over 450 students from home and abroad ranging from as young as two-years-old to Grade 12. LIFPA Don Bosco Saint John development manager Marie Langlois says a number of students have already enrolled for the inaugural semester, including kids from France, Guinea, and Algeria.

“Those students, international students, are going to be hosted in host families,” says Langlois, with details still to be fully ironed out on the matter. “Of course that is another aspect we need to take into account.”

“The school is going to be part of the French international school network that counts close to 600 schools everywhere (on earth),” Langlois continues. “There are eight others schools such as that one in Canada but only west of Quebec.”

Those other locations include one in Quebec City, two in Montreal and Toronto, as well as lone institutions in Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver. All teachers for the Saint John school will come from France.

Saint John was picked of all New Brunswick cities due to their excitement for the school, and the higher need of francophone learning compared to other parts of the province. Langlois also notes the large English speaking community will help international students better understand the language.

“We have got a lot of interest from different families,” says Langlois. “Whether its one of the parents is French and wants that for the kids, or even Anglophone families who want the opportunities to become bilingual because there are no requirements. You don’t need to be a French speaking family to enroll.”

With enrollment well underway, the focus shifts to construction. JH Architecture Inc. and osad architecture + consulting are a pair of local firms that have joined forces for the project.

“A lot of times a small firm can only work on a really small project,” says Nilton Lin, the founder of osad on working with JH Architecture Inc. “I think the future is all collaboration and each architect can bring that speciality they are good at. That joint venture can bring much more inspiration for any project.”

Construction is slated to begin in January, with a large bulk of the work still to be done.

“They have to first hire a construction manager,” says JH Architecture principal architect Jill Higgins. “That will really kind of help direct the phases of this project because there is such a tight timeline.”

“There are so many design challenges and also expectations and what can we bring to the table for the design so it is a really exciting project,” beams Lin.

Officials with the project are also see the economic outcomes the new school will bring to the city.

“It will be so wonderful to have that many children in the uptown area using all the other services that are around,” says Higgins. “I think it will be really beneficial for the whole city in itself.”

“They want to build relationships with people here in the community,” Langlois says of the students coming to LIFPA Don Bosco Saint John. “We are going to work with other schools, different clubs and I feel like that will be important (for the students).”

Tuition is slated around $15,500 a year. Langlois says the school is looking into bursary and grant options to help ease the financial cost.

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