French students off to competition

Students in Congrès headed to the annual French competition in Orlando on Thursday. Practices for the different competition categories have been held every week since January and French teacher Jennifer Walker thinks that her students are well prepared.

“We have amazing performers in the poetry event: Emma Kalvan and Keanu Kerr at the AP level; Jake Swanson and Marley Butcher at level IV; Maddi Walker and Jake Rawlins at level III; Elissa Gilbert and Faryn Antenucci at level II; and Jonathan Osborne-Contreras and Emma Campbell at level 1,” she said via email. “All of them have been coming in every week for two months to practice their poem and learn dramatic interpretation.”

Walker also said the Brain Bowl team will do well at competition this year.

“I think our Brain Bowl team will excel, and hopefully make it to the finals, as we have every year since 2002,” she said. “Captain Michelle Chin, Monty Karas and Kelsey Nickerson are so well prepared. It really takes four to five years to get to a level of proficiency high enough to compete in a “Jeopardy” type of game — in French — and these three girls are the best.”

Freshman Sarah Tanke is both excited and nervous about Congrès and her speaking category, but she hopes that she does well.

“I am very excited for Congrès, I’ve done lots of preparing and I think I’m as ready as I can be,” she said. “I’m just praying that I get an easy speaking topic. I am pretty nervous though, but I think I’ll do fine. I know the play will be fantastic though.”

Several students will be applying to scholarships.

“Candidates this year for scholarships are Monty Karas, who is competing for a two-week study abroad scholarship to the French city of Perpignan; Marley Butcher, who hopes to win the Green Connection study-abroad scholarship to La Rochelle; Kelsey Nickerson, Jake Swanson, Hana Kim, Keanu Kerr and Michelle Chin, who are competing for various academic scholarships to continue their studies of French,” Walker said.

West Shore has won the French Government scholarship nine times in the past nine years.

For Senior Jake Swanson this will be his last year going to Congrès and he hopes for the best.

“It is more important to me because it is my last year, so I can’t mess up. I must bring home a superior,” he said.

Along with being in the play and poetry, Swanson will also be applying to a scholarship.

“The scholarship I applied to is the Suzanne Carrell scholarship, and I had to write an essay and I have to do an interview at Congrès with her,” he said.

Walker is proud of her students and hopes that the graduating seniors will remember what they have learned in their years of French and apply it to their lives outside of high school.

” I can’t describe the incredible joy and pride I feel as their teacher, knowing that I have helped them win such a life-altering opportunity,” she said. “I hope the graduating seniors will remember all of the culture I shared with them. The musicals, films, theater in the classroom, my puppets, and Congrès,” she said. “I hope they will take with them the beautiful French language so that it may enhance their personal lives — now and forever.”

By Brianna Silvestre