World Language News and Events
Trip to Québec
Bunnell and Stratford High Schools
February 9-12, 2012
In the early morning hours of February 12, 2012, twenty-four students from Bunnell and seventeen from Stratford High, chaperoned by two teachers from each school, boarded a bus for Québec, Canada. The object of the trip was to immerse our students in the language and culture of Québec and concurrently experience the “Winter Carnaval (French spelling)”, an extraordinary annual event, offering a huge variety of fun-filled learning activities in a very vibrant environment.
Upon arrival, students were greeted with a taste of real winter weather as they were led on a guided walking tour of the Old City, all the while learning about the history of Québec and Canada as well. After the tour, the students proceeded to a pre-arranged meeting place, where they were met by their host families and brought to their respective French-speaking homes in groups of two and three. The following morning began with very positive student feedback regarding their overnight stay with their host families and then continued with a planned series of authentic Canadian educational and recreational adventures. For many, it was their first attempt at ice-fishing. With patience and diligence, they netted a catch of five. Next came the challenge of dog-sledding but amidst all the exhilaration, that patience and diligence ran thin and failed to prevent several minor spills among the students and one teacher, who shall remain nameless. No one could blame the dogs for these mishaps for they behaved beautifully and responded obediently to the students who had practiced and perfected their canine commands in French. After petting those cute huskies goodbye, the group ventured to the impressive Montmorency Falls, which stand higher than Niagara. After marveling at the breathtaking views, the students were treated to a lesson in maple syrup production, which certainly whetted their appetites for the Lumberjack lunch to follow at a local sugar shack. An accordionist provided music for dining as well as line-dancing, clearly a regular past-time activity at the shack. Students didn’t miss a beat and joined the locals for a brief rhythmic go-around before departing for a visit to a local high school. There they planned to meet and interview Canadian students taking an English class. Anticipating a challenging opportunity, our students applied 21st Century skills via their smart phones and collaborated to prepare their questions in advance. When they met at school, the Canadian students interviewed their American counterparts in English and vice-versa. International communication was achieved and Canadian-American relations were reaffirmed. Later, our students and teachers were invited to tour the school facility and learn more about the Canadian educational system.
After dinner, the students were invited to a dance where they met with three other American school groups also visiting Canada – two from Connecticut (Mystic and Cheshire), and one from up-state New York. The students were then surprised by a visit from Bonhomme, the mascot of the Winter Carnaval, who came to personally invite them to join the festivities on the following day.
That initial taste of winter, which greeted our students upon arrival, revisited and tested their patience by delaying their Saturday morning start. Frozen brakes apparently disabled their bus but the students were not the least bit concerned. While waiting for a replacement, the group took advantage of the unexpected free time to visit the local supermarket and purchase a generous supply of maple syrup cookies to sweeten their slight inconvenience. Moments later, the group boarded the replacement bus and traveled to the Manège Militaire, where visitors customarily impersonate French or English soldiers and chronicle the eventual British victory over the French. After portraying military personnel, the group was honorably discharged and walked to the nearby Winter Carnival site where superb ice sculptures and various races awaited. Following lunch, the students enjoyed an absolutely fascinating visit to the Ice Hotel where they stood in awe of the Inuit carvings on the walls, the suspended chandelier in the entryway, and the chapel whose benches were covered in furs. The group was spellbound and reluctant to leave so soon but the next planned event beckoned: tubing! After a couple of very shaky starts and with patience and diligence long forgotten, the students quickly resorted to humor, laughing at themselves as they fell off the inner tube ski lift numerous times, however not enough times to surpass the record of 7 falls out of 8 runs set by that same nameless teacher, the one who earlier fell off her dog sled! By the end of the day, everyone was pleasantly exhausted and looking forward to returning to their host families’ homes for a restful night.
Sunday morning began somewhat melancholy as the students exchanged farewells with their delightful and gracious hosts, some of whom gave presents to their American guests. The students were thrilled to learn that they had one hour to go shopping for souvenirs before participating in their last event: tobogganing in front of the Château de Frontenac, an iconic Canadian structure. Following a French styled lunch at a nearby crèperie, the group boarded the bus and departed for home.
This student group was particularly enthusiastic and didn’t experience any of the trepidation that others have in the past when meeting host families. This group was eager and frankly cheered on their way to the mutual meeting place. They looked forward to participating in each activity even when they had to get up and perform before their peers, not always an easy task for teenagers. Each day, students would share new French words they had learned, mistakes they had made and corrected in French, activities and games that they played with their host families etc. The tour guide complimented the students on their attention to his explanations. In addition, the bus driver remarked that the manner in which the host families said their goodbyes indicated that they very much enjoyed sharing their homes with their American guests.
Much gratitude is extended to the world language department, district administrators, the superintendent, and the Board of Education for their continued support. Trips of this nature immerse students in significant authentic learning experiences, which figure prominently in 21st century skill building and subsequent success in an increasingly globalized society and workplace.
Stratford World Language Students Flourish
Internationally, Nationally, State-wide, and Locally
The Stratford World Language Department is pleased to report on several significant events in which Stratford students participated, competed, and achieved honors. On the international front, twenty world language students from Bunnell and Stratford High Schools continued a very successful biennial tradition and embarked upon a European field trip to explore first hand the countries, people, languages, and cultures that they study from afar. This year's trip provided an exciting and extensive visit to Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid and was replete with "authentic" learning experiences during a ten day tour of key destinations. On Wednesday, April 7, the students, chaperoned by teachers, Ms Ahlstrom-Nasry, Mr. Baron, and Mrs. Landry, flew to France to begin their sight seeing adventures with an exceptional tour guide, Andres Cabrerra, at the helm. After touring major sites in and around Paris, including the Musée d'Orsay, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, two Châteaux in the Loire Valley, the Palace of Versailles, and the Cathedral of Chartres, the group experienced its first French "reality" check when a sudden transit strike abruptly canceled their night train reservation to their next major destination, Barcelona. Luckily they were able to re-schedule early on the following day and arrive in time to enjoy all their planned activities, which included visits to the impressive soccer stadium and other remarkable city sites. In Madrid, their third and final destination, the group was led on an amaz-ing tour of the Modern Art Museum, where they viewed exhibits featuring the artistic genius of such universally celebrated luminaries as Miró, Dalí, and Picasso. As a fitting departing gift on the final night of their Spanish adventure, the students and chaperones were treated to a passionate flamenco show of dance and song. As they prepared to return home, they experienced a second "reality check", for which the French could not be readily blamed. This time, Mother Nature was at fault as numerous flights were canceled due to the unpredicted effect of volcanic ash on airspace from the erupted Icelandic volcano. Fortune, however, smiled once again and the group was quickly rebooked on a direct flight back from Madrid, instead of the planned departure from Paris, where air travel had just shut down, and yes, the French would have taken the blame … just kidding! In the end, all returned safely. The chaperones were pleased to report excellent behavior and attitude on the part of the students, who maintained their composure in the face of those occasional challenging moments that occur when traveling in foreign lands. Also noteworthy was everyone's courage to speak often in French and Spanish and savor new foods in different environments… and while it was rumored that some may have snacked on rare occasion at a well-known American fast-food restaurant that just so happened to be in the vicinity, such acts were judged to be purely patriotic in nature and instantly pardonable! Participating students included: Kate Aspinwall, Chelsea Barstow, Madison Bishop, Shannon Boyle, Rashawna Butler, Oscar Castillo, Ethan Cole, Nicky DeRosa, Abby Eanotti, Meaghan Ford, Victoria Gabriele, Samantha Grom, Carly Kascak, Justin Leonard, Anthony Mastroluca, Courtney Mayberry, Hannah Moffat, Danjhanna Rodrigues, Jeremie Serrano, and Barbara Sowa.
On the national front, Latin students from BHS and SHS were recognized for their excellent performance on the National Latin Exam. Unlike the aforementioned international trip, students participating in this event were not flown to any comparable exciting U.S. destination like South Beach, L.A., or Hawaii nor were they lavished or “limo’d” anywhere at all. No, on this auspicious but austere occasion, a simple classroom desk, student chair, and #2 pencils were their only amenities. With stoic fervor, SHS students, Jake Grom, Meagan Simon, and Mick Gloss achieved Cum Laude in Latin 3; Anahvia Mewborn, Magna Cum Laude in Latin 2, and Kamil Jablonowski, Tory Tallberg, Yassie Ramos-Vazquez and Dan Paproski, Cum Laude in Latin 2. BHS Latin 1 students, Melissa Kevan and Lori Diblasi were awarded ribbons and certificates. Also Earning Latin 1 certificates were Shawn Benoit, Dario Cabrera, Jasmon Haffees and Selmir Hadzijic. In Latin 2, Maxima Cum Laude honors went to Marybeth Condon and Cecilia Rodriguez; Magna Cum Laude to Erin Cavoto and Christopher Chabla, and Cum Laude to Kayala Hanis and Mikola Sokol. In Latin 3, Maxima Cum Laude was awarded to Megan Murphy and Michele Karasik, Magna Cum Laude to David Taylor, and Cum Laude were Karla Sansone, Jessica Bria, James Benson, Lauren McKulla, Erin Macdaniel, and Haleigh Pal-lock. Lindsday Rogers earned Cum Laude in Latin 4.
On the state-wide front, Stratford students participated in two major language events. On April 27, eight SHS students joined approximately 1100 others from 93 schools state-wide to compete at the annual Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (COLT) Poetry Recitation Contest held at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven. Students selected and rehearsed poems with their respective world language teachers, and worked meticulously to enhance their elocution and dramatic styling and arrive at a performance level worthy of the quality of the poems they selected to recite from memory before judges and peers. Participating this year were Nassim Amirouche, Pratibha Dhakshinamurthy, Christine Domond, Marc-Charles Morquette, and Jean Gutenberg Thomas in French; Daniel Paproski in Latin, and Jillian Valle and Jessica Veliz in Spanish. Since only three medals were awarded per language and level state-wide, the competition was very keen. SHS Spanish student, Jillian Valle, met the competition and won a bronze medal for her performance of Entréme donde no supe…by San Juan de la Cruz.
Also competing state-wide were 40 Latin students from SHS and BHS, who on April 28th donned their togas and joined 2000 others from over 50 schools at the annual CT State Latin Day to exhibit their academic, artistic, and athletic prowess in contests reminiscent of classical times. Latin teachers, Dylan Connor, Amy Harkenreader, and Susan Youngquist hailed the day triumphant as many of their student contestants earned awards in several distinct categories. While one might have anticipated greater exhibitions of brute strength and gladiator warfare at the mercy of a capricious thumbs-down and a jeering coliseum crowd, this kinder and gentler meeting of minds and bodies took place before a rather idyllic Holiday Hill setting where brains out finessed brawn. With great teacher preparation and strong student motivation, and lest one forget, a continuous bottomless buffet service, Stratford students remarkably placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the architectural projects category state wide! For BHS, sophomore Ryan Provenzano earned third place honors for his model of the Pantheon, while Patrick Aspinwall, Kelly Benson, Shannon Boyle and Sammy Carroll placed third in the Scrapbook category. For SHS, Kamil Jablonowski won a first place ribbon for his teaching display of The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Following in second place were Anthony Brunner for his model of a Roman Aqueduct and Scott Reutter for his painting of Pandora's Box. Ashley Brunner won third for her scrapbook depiction of the Seven Ancient Wonders. Academic competitions abounded and for BHS, Kaylea Robillard was awarded Cum Laude in geography, and for SHS, Daniel Paproski, Magna Cum Laude in Roman Authors and Literature, and Zakary Chess, Magna Cum Laude in Greek. However, no classical competition would be complete without the prerequisite Chariot Race, which at Holiday Hill, would be the singular event to herald the fierce, personal combat of ancient times. Com-mitted to achieving greater success in this year's demonstration of mechanized military might, BHS Latin Club members labored diligently during the past four years to fine-tune both vehicle and opera-tors to prepare for this legendary challenge. Their triumvirate of brains, brawn, and bellicosity prevailed and BHS advanced to the finals in both the boys' and girls' races. Congratulations to runners Andrew Joy, Brian Murray, Brittany Young and Chloe Dyke for delivering a victorious finale to a truly "classic" day!
On the local front, one of the most cherished moments of world language study occurs in late May when a highly selective group of SHS students are inducted into national language honor societies. Prior to this year, students were inducted into the French and Spanish National Honor Societies - La Société Honoraire de Français and La Sociedad Honoraria Hispana, respectively. With a relatively new Latin program at SHS and the popularity of Latin study rising significantly at both high schools, it was a timely decision to establish a local chapter of The National Junior Classical League to recognize high performing Latin students. To qualify for honor society membership, students had to demonstrate outstanding language achievement, general academic excellence, active participation and leadership in extra-curricular activities and community service, excellent behavior and attitude, and merit teacher recommendation. At SHS, the annual traditional candle lighting ceremony was held on May 19th and the newly formed Latin Society Chapter joined the French and Spanish Chapters to jointly welcome 28 new inductees this year: French students, Pratibha Dhakshinamurthy, Esther Jean-Marie, Shelby Meyer, and Jean Gutenberg Thomas; Latin students, Rita Battey, Gregory Billingham, Zachary Chess, Michael (Mick) Gloss, George (Jake) Grom, Tadhg Hannon, Kamil Jablonowski, Madelin Lopez, Anahvia Mewborn, Yasirie Ramos-Vazquez, Scott Reutter, Meagan Simon, Tory Tallberg, and Carol Tunney, and Spanish students, Bryanna Alvarez, Alexandra Arendt, Kristen Chon-ko, John Lardas, Anthony Mastroluca, Thai Nguyen, Amanda Ocasio, Benjamin Ospina, Samantha Pianillo, and Dejanise Rivera. Spanish teacher, Ms Moreno, Latin teachers Mrs. Harkenreader and Mrs. Youngquist, and French teacher and department coordinator, Mr. Camporiale officiated at this memorable event. At BHS, the new Chapter of The National Junior Classical League Latin Honor Society selected the following students for induction: Gustavo Alvarez, Ashley Cone, Kibibi Irving, Olivia Lenkeit, Kate Lutian, Daniel Martin, Lauren Mckulla, Caroline Proto, Kelly Benson, Shannon Boyle, Samantha Carroll, Christopher Chabla, Naomi Georges, Andrew Joy, Mikola Sokol, Marybeth Condon, Erin Cavoto, Kayla Hanish, Kaylea Robillard, Cecilia Rodriguez, Lauren Thomas, Paige Au-relia, Meghan Condon, Brendan Ferguson, David Karasik, Lindsay Rogers, Julia Tranquillo, Kathryn Williams, Samantha Archibald, James Benson, Jessica Bria, Dana Chmielewski, Michelle Karasik, Megan Murphy, Chanel Noblin, Haleigh Pallock, Karla Sansone, David Taylor, and Erin Williams, Lori Diblasi and Andrew Baran. Latin teachers Mr. Connor and Mrs. Harkenreader officiated.
The World Language Department is very proud of these students and pleased to acknowledge their accomplishments, their impressive knowledge and commitment to excellence, and their fine representation of Stratford Public Schools at these notable events. World language study has increasingly proven to be a critical 21st Century skill, given today's highly competitive, culturally diverse, global society workplace, and marketplace. In response to that fact, the district began a FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program in Spanish two years ago for all students in grades K, 1, and 2 and successfully expanded it to include grade 3 during this past year. This year (2010-11), the district has added grade four. This program has truly invigorated the elementary classrooms as children listen with great anticipation for the sound of their Spanish teachers, Mrs. Derrig, Ms Jacober, and Ms Wallace, rolling their carts down the hallways and into their classrooms for exciting, linguistic and cultural learning experiences and adventures. Parental surveys each year have demonstrated exceptionally positive reactions to our elementary program and parents are virtually unanimous in their desire to see the program expand to include grades K- 6th. Student assessments reveal how incredibly well our young students are absorbing and retaining Spanish and building their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills even at these early years. Research has proven that the earlier one starts, the greater one achieves. Once the program reaches Grade 6 in 2013, Stratford will boast a K-12 world language curriculum similar to other progressive districts state-wide. Students may continue Spanish to higher levels in grades 7-12 and/or take a third language or other complementary elective options. Imagine their fluency and global prospects with such a strong supportive program. The World Language Department is especially pleased to continue in its mission to provide Stratford children with the essential skills to grow, compete, interact, and prosper in an ever-changing and ever-challenging world.