French program growing in academic opportunities, cultural celebrations

The French Program at DePaul Prep is one that has grown greatly over time. From when it began at the old Gordon Tech campus, the program has almost tripled in size. According to the World Language Chair at DePaul, Ms. Parker, the first French 4 class she taught had 6 students. Now, that number has almost tripled. According to senior Clarisse Lorin, “the program’s grown a lot since we first started, and there are a lot more opportunities and things that we learn.”

According to sophomore Charlotte Menard, the French program offers “a unique challenge” to students who appreciate the language and culture. Despite not being the most common language program at DePaul Prep, it still offers unique opportunities, like field trips and the upcoming summer learning trip in the summer of 2024. A brand new opportunity for the DePaul Prep French program is the welcoming of exchange students in May of this year.

As the program grows, more and more opportunities become available to students. This includes programs such as the French Honor Society. The French Honor Society, or FHS, is a program for high level French students in French 3 and above. FHS is a nationally recognized service organization that allows students to become more connected with the culture and language. The program offers opportunities for tutoring, participating in cultural events, and overall being able to honor the accomplishments of students.

The growth of the program has also brought new traditions to the DePaul Prep community. One of these traditions, brand new this year, is French Week. The purpose of this event, according to French teacher and organizer of the event Ms. Meindl, is to “have recognition in our communities” for the French language and culture. French week is a national event intended to celebrate French teachers and students. It varies from place to place, but it can be made up of contests, games, and other events. One unique feature of DePaul Prep’s French week was “our announcements, and getting to hear from our school community,” says Meindl. 

Another major part of French week was the fête. Held after school in the dining hall, the event was an opportunity for anyone looking to learn more about French culture. The event offered food, karaoke, and an eiffel tower building contest. Ms. Parker saw it as “a great way to get students involved in the culture and language of French.” It was a great opportunity for students to experience French culture while also participating in fun activities and games. 

A returning French tradition at DePaul Prep is the Joyeux Noel celebration. Joyeux Noel, which translates to “Merry Christmas” is a celebration of French culture, as well as an opportunity for students to experience fun Christmas traditions. Created by the French Honor Society, the celebration involves readings and presentations from different student groups at DePaul, including French Honor Society, Choir, Black Student Union, and Jewish Club. The event also offered hot cocoa to students who attended, and it ended with the lighting of the Christmas tree outside DePaul Prep’s south entrance.

Overall, the program represents change and growth. According to Lorin, “teachers are willing to adapt and work with students in their learning styles,” which makes the experience better overall. The French program has grown vastly from where it first started, and both Ms. Meindl and Ms. Parker believe that it will continue to grow and evolve as DePaul grows.