A French-language elementary school will open in Wasaga Beach next school year.
The Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) announced Friday it will be opening the school in September to serve the francophone communities of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.
The Catholic school board will lease the former Silvercrest Christian School located at 3267 Mosley St.
"Collingwood and Wasaga Beach have a large number of francophone families in their communities," said board chair Yves Lévesque. "Our board's mission is to make Catholic French-language education available to communities that do not have access to this service. Congratulations to the parents in this region who got together to obtain their school."
A local parents' group approached the CSDCCS in May to demand their right to have their children educated in French, under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Discussions took place throughout the summer, during which time the CSDCCS administration went to Collingwood and met with more than 40 local residents.
"This is the best Christmas present we could ever have", said Liette Petit, spokesperson for the francophone parents group. "The parents in the Collingwood region have been waiting a very long time to get their school. Our children will be able to speak to us in French and grow up in a Catholic francophone environment."
Thirty-five students are already enrolled and the CSDCCS is expecting about 50 students to attend the first year.
Director of education Réjean Sirois says the French-language school is possible because of the "parents who came knocking on our door and who worked closely with us."