Les étudiants célèbrent National French Week


Senior Maggie Golder paints junior Laynie Calderwood’s face in support of French Week.

Rachel Cho, Senior News Editor

This month, students of all languages had the opportunity to embrace their inner Francophiles.  The Languages Other Than English (LOTE) department adopted senior Jackson Shain’s senior experience project by celebrating National French Week.  Shain hosted French-related activities during the week of Nov. 4 in order to get students more involved with French at school.

“After looking around for ideas online on how to spread French around school, I saw that the AATF, or American Association of Teachers of French, organized National French Week each year,” said Shain. “Their website highlighted tons of different ideas to getting students interested in French during French Week, so I figured this would be a great place to start.”

Shane took many steps in order to create French Week.  It did not start as a senior experience, but after speaking to the French department, Assistant Principal Ms. Julie Torres, and Principal Mr. Ira Pernick, it was decided that carrying out National French Week through the Senior Experience program was the most effective plan.

French teacher Ms. Cherie Delio, who served as the sponsor of the project, helped review what events would be held.  After finding students who were interested in helping out, Shain approached the Foreign Language Honor Society and the Student Council and requested funding.  Together, they raised $350, the entirety of which was used to pay for all the decorations and materials that were needed for the event.

Weber students were also invited to enjoy the event after arrangements were made with Weber French teachers Ms. Julie Novinksi and Ms. Emily Roberts.  Shain also reached out to local stores and restaurants to ask for donations.

“Many businesses gave much more than I expected.  I’m very thankful to Sixteen Handles, Baskin Robbins, Smash Burger, Gino’s, North Shore Farms, Baked to Perfection, and St. Honoré for their generous contributions,” said Shain.

Another goal of this event was to raise money for Weber’s field trip to Montreal.  Historically, this event was reserved for eighth grade French students but, the trip has fallen to the wayside and has not run in the past six years.

“This trip is a vital aspect of the Port Washington French Department that deserves to be given a second chance,” said Shain.  “I believe the root of all proficiency and passion towards language comes from students’ exposure to it in their youth.”

Shain also shared his thoughts about expanding the LOTE department to elementary schools.

“I know it’s a distant goal to have foreign language introduced in our elementary schools, but I believe something that can be achieved now is for kids to be excited by French and want to learn more.  I think eighth graders would be excited to visit a Francophone part of the world,” said Shain.

The activities that ran on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of National French Week included face painting, temporary tattoo applications, a French trivia game with prizes, and a bake sale.

Other French students showed their support by participating during the week by playing violin, saxophone, bass, and harp.  Several drama club students helped out by miming in the lobby.  Unicyclists were also scheduled to perform in the lobby, but the show could not go on for safety reasons.

“I mimed and did charades in the lobby during my lunch period in my mime costume with Jake Arlow and Sabrina Brennan.  We did activities like ‘trapped someone in a box’ or ‘pulled someone with a rope,’” said junior Jina Lay

“I played some jazz music in the lobby during the lunch period with my friend Benjamin Rosen.  I also   read the American pledge in French on the announcements,” said Finkelstein.  “I thought that Jackson and Ms. Delio did a great job organizing and running French week.”

Many students enjoyed the festivities and expressed positive feedback.

“It was extremely well-organized while being a very simple event.  People didn’t need to even take or speak French to appreciate and partake in the festivities,” said senior Joelle Feinberg.  “The kids from the middle school were also particularly interested about French Week.”

In addition to the lobby events, fliers highlighted famous French scientists and their impact on the scientific world, as well as English words that are derived from French.  Science Department Chair Mr. Philip Crivelli and English Department Chair Ms. Joan Lisecki handed out flyers to students and staff members.

Besides fliers, Shain created a list of “The Top Ten Reasons to Take French” and posted them all around the school.  Additionally, four short histories of current celebrities that speak French were read each morning during the announcements.  To raise more awareness about French, four AP French students including Shain came together to read the Pledge of Allegiance in French every day of the week.

Although National French Week was started through a senior experience, Shain expressed hopes to have this annually.

“It is my hope that French Week will be annual.  I believe I have laid the groundwork for someone to follow in my footsteps and organize next year’s event,” said Shain. Also, I’d be honored if my work could inspire students from other languages to do their own events too!”

“I am very satisfied with the results. French Week was such a big success, the week brought a lot of attention to the French program and I am very glad many students enjoyed it. I had a very nice time working with Jackson, as he was very organized and dedicated,”  said Ms. Delio.