Young island student using century-old desk for online learning

Eight-year-old Ayanna Bellefleur uses a desk more than 10 times her age to learn online while in-person classes are suspended due to COVID-19 in PEI.

“I was blown away when I heard that,” said Ayanna, who is in grade 3 at École François-Buote in Charlottetown. “He’s actually in very good condition considering he’s 100 years old.

“I was very surprised and I also feel like I’m very lucky to have this office because there aren’t many left.”

“I really don’t think my great-grandfather would really think that an eight-year-old girl in 2022 would use it for Zoom calls,” Ayanna says. (Tony Davis / CBC)

Her mother, Nicole Bellefleur, said she used the desk to do her homework while growing up. His mother used it before that.

“It’s a great office,” Nicole said. “It’s a basic office, but it really serves its purpose.”

Nicole Bellefleur said she hopes her daughter decides to move on to the office when she is ready. (Tony Davis / CBC)

Nicole’s grandfather, Vincent Gallant, was a painter. He was doing renovations at St. Joseph’s Convent, also known as Rochford Square School, in the early 1950s and took a home office when the school bought new ones.

He gave this office to his daughter. Nicole said her mother used the desk for her studies at St. Dunstan’s University and made lesson plans for it as a teacher in the 1960s.

“It’s amazing because it’s not just the three generations, it’s all the kids who used this desk before it came into our family,” Nicole said.

“He’s got a lot of character. He could probably tell a lot of stories and it’s a really special piece that we have to keep in our family. It has become a family heirloom.”

Mary Gallant-Bellefleur, Nicole’s mother, is pictured at the age of 10. She received her father’s office at the same age. (Submitted by Nicole Bellefleur.)

The holes in the metal base of the desk where it was bolted to the floor in the old school are still visible.

“I use it for Zoom calls, and I really don’t think my great-grandfather would ever really think that an eight-year-old girl in 2022 would use it for Zoom calls,” Ayanna said, adding that ‘she planned to use the office even when her e-learning was finished.

Nicole hopes Ayanna will eventually drop the desk when she’s done using it.

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