The Évangéline Consolidated School is celebrating its 50th birthday today. The establishment was the first of its kind in French on Prince Edward Island. Today, his attendance is down and concerns are numerous.
On February 16, 1968, École Évangéline opened its doors at Abram Village. Erma Arsenault was one of the school’s very first teachers. She finally stayed there until her retirement in 1995. However, she returns every week to these places which she describes as unforgettable. “It’s always my second home,” she says.
The Évangéline Consolidated School took over the eight old rural schools in the region. The grouping contributed significantly to the development of education for all Francophones in Prince Edward Island.
That made French on the island. Francophones had as a name, something they did not have before. In addition, unlike small schools, here the books were all in French.
Erma Arsenault, school teacher from 1968 to 1995 at Évangéline School
On February 16, 1968, Raymond Bernard did not forget it either. The first director of the school, from 1968 to 1984, still remembers this first incredible day. “I went to the door to greet the buses filled with students. It took a long time to unravel all the students and to install them in their respective classes. It was necessary to direct them one at a time: “You are going to the left, you are on the right, you are on the second floor,” he says with a smile on his face.
And if the first days were complicated, the rest of the adventure was a real success. Raymond Bernard stresses that this school has transformed the region and the future of Acadian youth on the island.
The consolidation and then the organization of the school system thanks to the support of the teachers was very beneficial for the students.
Raymond Bernard, director of the Évangéline School from 1968 to 1984
Paulette LeBlanc also remembers this time and her time at school. Director of the school since 2015, she was also a student from 1976 to 1988, then a teacher from 1992 to 2015. She lived the golden age of the school and its 800 students in the 80s.
Today, the school welcomes 217 students. Their numbers are declining, partly because of the opening of other French schools on the Island. Ms. LeBlanc is concerned about this downsizing.
It is certain that it is a worry. We are looking for solutions so that the population increases and more children come to school.
Paulette Leblanc, director of Evangeline School since 2015
Despite the concern, Paulette LeBlanc will continue to fight to keep this school that represents so much for the French language on the island.