January means one thing for parents of children starting kindergarten in September-deciding what school to enrol their child in. The deadline is Jan. 31 to be given first consideration over those who apply later. Neighbourhood schools remain popular, but many families opt for specialty programs that can be tough to get into such as French immersion, Montessori, Mandarin immersion or Fine Arts.
French immersion programs are particularly sought after, according to the Vancouver school district. Parents apply to their neighbourhood French immersion school and if it's oversubscribed a lottery is held. Those who don't win seats are placed on a waitlist for a district draw for remaining seats in the system.
The waitlist for all French immersion programs totaled 342 last year, which dropped to 169 for the district draw likely because families registered in other programs after not qualifying for their local one.
Schools with the longest waitlists at the end of January last year included Hastings elementary (35), Hudson (34), L'Ecole Bilingue (36), Jules Quesnel and Queen Elizabeth annex (counted together 52), Quilchena (34), and Laura Secord (39). Trafalgar had the shortest waitlist (8).
Montessori programs also generate waitlists. There are two existing ones in Vancouver-Tyee and Maple Grove, with a third opening at Renfrew in September 2012.
Nootka elementary features a Fine Arts program that draws a lot of interest, as did the VSB's Mandarin immersion program that launched in September.
"All of these district programs tend to be very popular with our parent community and showcase the diversity of what the Vancouver School Board has to offer when it comes to early childhood education," VSB spokesman Kurt Heinrich told the Courier.
"In terms of English kindergarten schools, the West End schools [such as] Elsie Roy and Roberts tend to fill up very quickly. I think a big reason for this is the recent demographic growth of the area."
Heinrich noted that Elsie Roy didn't have a waitlist last year, which was a rarity. "They opened up an additional classroom due to high demand in all their family of schools. Generally, the downtown schools do a lot of collaboration to find spots for students in the catchment area, either at their specific catchment school or another nearby neighbourhood school. If that doesn't work, schools will often call around to find other nearby schools that will work well for the parents."
Charlotte Forbes, a Prince of Wales mini school student, just created her first professionally recorded album titled Electricity after working on the project for two years.
Forbes, a Grade 11 student, started playing instruments at age three.
The album is a mix of pop music and ballads. Background music is synthesized while Forbes plays the violin and sings vocals.
She spent many weekends busking on Granville Island to raise money for the recording of each song, earning several hundred dollars on a good day. The teenager also plays with the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Prince of Wales Jazz Band and Prince of Wales Orchestra.
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