The New Face of Metis Beach School

special edition– Elodie Annett

“Upgrading” is all everyone seems to be thinking about these days and it isn’t an exception at Metis Beach School.  Metis Beach School is a small English-speaking school which is located in Métis-sur-Mer. From Matane to Rimouski and all the communities in between, students have been adding up over the years.

The devotion of the teachers has made this school an envy for many. Multiple projects, such as sports, culture and academics make Metis Beach School a living school. Over the years, this school has added two extensions, bought new equipment as well as better learning materials. It has worked hard to overcome obstacles and challenges through imaginative and creative programs.

The ribbon cutting in 1997 to officially open the permanent extension. Photo: Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence

The ribbon cutting in 1997 to officially open the permanent extension.
Photo: Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence

In 1996, a first extension to the school was built to provide a science laboratory and an additional classroom. But just 8 years later, in the 2008-2009 school year, the number of students had already increased so much that the school board decided to build another extension, adding three more classrooms and a hallway of lockers to the building. “Even with the extensions, we are still cramped,” said a high school student about the current situation.

The student population has been steadily increasing, growing from 46 students in 2008, to 61 in 2012. But this year, the school has beaten all of its attendance records, it now welcomes 76 students. Erin Ross, the English and History teacher at Metis Beach School states: “It is surprising that an English-speaking school has evolved so much and is growing at such a rate in a French-speaking region.”

But more students means growing needs: eighteen desktop computers in the computer lab could no longer meet the needs of such a student population so, in the 2011-2012 school year, the school purchased eighteen laptop computers along with a laptop-recharging cart. The following year, the school added ten portable computers for a total of 28, facilitating the use of computers as a teaching tool throughout the program.

Metis Beach School as it looks today. This photo clearly shows the original building (at the back) and the extension (at the front). Photo: Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence

Metis Beach School as it looks today. This photo clearly shows the original building (at the back) and the extension (at the front).
Photo: Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence

A growing population also has had an effect on school organization. The clubhouse situated in the schoolyard, which used to house the lunchroom, has not been big enough to hold all students for lunch for several years. The school therefore had to transform one of the classrooms into a lunchroom. But, with the growing student population nearing 80 people, some groups now have to eat elsewhere. The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes eat in their own classroom and the grade six students eat in the French classroom.
The school also has a lunch program which means that every Thursday, students are offered an affordable hot lunch. The menu varies from chicken pot pie to lasagna, from spaghetti to shepherd’s pie. Students are involved in the program: washing dishes, cutting fruits and vegetables etc. The price of the meal is set at four dollars, but students can buy a four-meal lunch card for twelve dollars.

Every morning (except on hot lunch days) secondary students can have breakfast at school thanks to the breakfast program. Sponsored by a Breakfast for Learning grant, food is also available for all the secondary students during the morning recess break.

Robert Annett, a former Metis Beach School student, observed this about the school: “I have noticed that Metis Beach School has evolved over the years, and especially since my own kids are attending the school. There are more dynamic projects, new ideas and more teachers, which means that they are each more specialized in one subject.” When Mr. Annett attended to Metis Beach School there were only four teachers to teach all the students from kindergarten to secondary five.

Metis Beach School still has a lot of things to improve on, but what has already been achieved is extraordinary. “Bigger and permanent extensions would make our lives as students easier.”

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