Boisbriand’s young philatelists shine at Orapex exhibition

Kids provide new wave of enthusiasm in stamp exhibiting

By Mike Walsh

In the quaint North Shore town of Boisbriand, a short distance from bustling Montreal, l’École Alternative Le Sentier is making waves with its progressive education model. The model encourages children to pursue new skills and passions through project-based learning.

Every other Thursday afternoon, an innovative concept called “a day at school off” is implemented, allowing students to attend personal appointments or partake in specialized workshops aimed at broadening their learning experiences. It was on one of these Thursdays back in 2021 that a remarkable journey began for a group of students under the guidance of a spirited volunteer, a grandmother with a vision named Claude Lacasse.

Lacasse, fuelled by her passion for philately and a talent for captivating young learners, immerses her students in a world where technology blends effortlessly with traditional learning. This world is centred on philately. Her granddaughter, Éliane Rose, has been involved in the philatelic journey since she was three years old, but 2021 was a key year when additional students joined the Thursday afternoon class and became captivated by how stamp collecting can unlock myriad opportunities to explore the world.

“We wanted to show it is fun,” Lacasse explains. “It’s not something just old people do. They are discovering they can learn about their country, their continent, and so much more.”

Three years on, granddaughter Éliane Rose, alongside her classmates Lili Rivard and Laurent Constantineau, generated a level of excitement at this year’s Orapex stamp exhibition that’s been unmatched in recent memory. All three entered exhibits, an impressive achievement considering Éliane and Lili are just nine years old, and Laurent is only eight.

In fact, John Tooth, who led this year’s Orapex organizing committee, notes, “They are the youngest and the only youth exhibitors since at least 2017, if not earlier.”

In this nurturing school setting, the young students are encouraged to explore their passions. Éliane’s 16-page exhibit offers an intriguing exploration of “Hearts,” while Lili delves into her “Favourite Disney Characters” through her eight-page display. Meanwhile, Laurent aims high with his eight-page exhibit on “Skyscrapers.”

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