50 years of CFIS
Our graduating students attend universities throughout North America and abroad to study business, law, engineering, journalism, science, education, the culinary arts, and music, to name only a few of the many directions our alumni have taken. Through slow, steady growth, our enrollment has climbed annually and we are more than 800 strong.
In the 2019 - 20 school year, we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Stronger than ever, and still growing.
When the federal government established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in 1963, Canada embarked on a new awareness of the need for bilingualism. This resulted in two important events in September of 1969: the passing of the Official Languages Act and the founding of the Calgary French School.
At this time, a group of mothers of school-age children was working together to respond to some of the Commission’s findings in their own practical way locally in Calgary. They sought to establish an educational institution that could teach young, Anglophone children in an all-French environment, called French immersion. Although such schools are prevalent today, at that time, they were almost unheard of.
These forward-thinking women created curriculum and directed the school and its programs during a time when educational and neurological research was only beginning to show the benefits of early second-language development. Coupling a well rounded student development approach and a strong academic foundation, Calgary French School sought to be a truly immersive environment.
Early classrooms of the school were formed in church basements and the like, moving periodically and eventually landing in a shared space at Sacred Heart School in 1974. Throughout this time there was consistent growth in both student numbers and scholarly reputation. With time, there began to form within the community a longing for a space to call home.
In late 1999, the shared space reclaimed by its owners, the school sought its own building. A campaign began to raise funds to buy land and build a top-notch facility.
A New Campus
A new $20 million, 120,000 square foot, 30-classroom structure opened its doors in 2003. Calgary French & International School was born. The new building represented the school’s foundation for the future, and the new name showed the hope for our students: growing global citizens. More than 1,000 current and former students, parents and special guests – including Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and Minister of Education Lyle Oberg – attended the grand opening of the new campus in Cougar Ridge.
By 2006, another wing with 13 classrooms was added, this time for secondary students. CFIS was officially recognized at the provincial level as strategically important to language education in Western Canada. In 2010, we celebrated with the first Grade 12 graduating class. We are members of Round Square and UNESCO. In 2019 we obtained our International Baccalaureate (IB) authorization for the Diploma Programme and the offering of a full French IB diploma. Students travel all over the world on service, exchange, and conferences.