BONJOUR YA’LL: A FRENCH SCHOOL IN DALLAS

Undoubtedly, several students around town are excited about spending the coming academic year abroad. But while some lucky Dallas students are packing for a year at the Sorbonne or Cambridge, chances are that another group is similarly excited about spending its year abroad in Dallas.

The prestigious Institut de Bois-Robert of France has chosen to open its first subsidiary boarding facility, Bois-Robert International School, here in Dallas. This fall, 40 to 50 students already involved in the parent program near Angers, France, will continue their French-based studies in temporary quarters at Churchill Way Presbyterian Church. After this year, the school (which is meant to prepare students as “leaders with an international perspective”) will increase its number of English courses and open its admissions to American students.

The nonsectarian school will be comparable to St. Mark’s and Hockaday in structure and tuition, but will offer an international baccalaureate based on standards set by an educational governing body in Geneva, Switzerland. The curriculum is more rigorous than at most American high schools.

Jean Patier, who founded the institute in 1968 and continues to direct it, has named Maurice G.A. Elton, professor of French at SMU, coordinator of the project. Elton says Patier chose Dallas to open his second school because of the favorable market and growth of the area. “The International School will not be meant to take away from either St. Mark’s or Hocka-day,” Elton says. “But it is necessary because Dallas is becoming increasingly internationally minded.”

Elton says the greatest need in education today is an increased familiarity with world events from an international perspective, a view he hopes the new school will provide. The unbelievable lack of this knowledge among leaders was exhibited recently, Elton says, when a state department official mentioned that he never knew there was both a North and a South Korea.

Grades 6 through 9 will be offered the first year the International School opens admissions to American English-speaking students. Grades 10, 11 and 12 will be added one at a time in subsequent years, and elementary and kindergarten classes will later complete the school.

Weekly boarding will be encouraged and weekend housing will be provided by host families for students who live far from home. School officials estimate 30 percent of the enrollment of the International School will be children of French and French-speaking families living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; 60 percent will be American students from the area; and 10 percent will be children sent to Texas by families in Europe, Mexico and South America.

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