February 2, 2012

Traditions of a Middle School Elective

As eighth graders, many students have taken an elective for three years. The material gets harder, the teachers may get a little stricter but, in the end, there are some traditions that keep the class going. I asked many students who have been in classes since sixth grade, what they consider traditions of an elective. We found out about a lot of really unique traditions, that are sure to be continued for years to come.
The students who were interviewed were Blake, Neal and Emma.  After asking them what the best part about French class was, they said it is the culture not the language that makes French special.  For instance, they get to connect with people in other countries and learn about their daily life. Madame McMahon does a really good job of making sure the students are aware of French culture as well as the cultures of the entire world.
Global Connections night has always been an important event for any language class, but for all the French classes it is extremely important becuae Madame McMahon is in charge of coordinating the entire event. The students in the class are in charge of creating the French cafe. Researching and creating the ambiance of an actual cafe in France, is always one of the highlights of the year.  For the performance night, the class usually performs the song “Champs D'elysees”, with trombone solos and cheerful students. There is also usually a serious poem,  song, or play they will perform. Neal said his favorite project, from last year, was performing a poem, “L’homme Qui Te Ressemble.”(English translation of poem below) The name of the poem translates to “The Man Who Looks Like you.” The poem is about how people may judge you by the color of your skin, or the way you look, but in the end everyone is the same.

Global Connections is not the only time that French students get to experience the French culture. The class also celebrates the French holiday, Three King Day. This day is always lots of fun. The youngest person in the room goes under a table and starts calling out the names of people in the class. As each person’s name is called they get a piece of cake. Two of the pieces have a plastic baby figure in them. Whoever gets the babies are the king and queen of the day.  On Saint Nicholas day,  the students line up outside the class, and take their shoes off. At the end of class, when they go back outside of class there are candy canes in all of the shoes! It means Saint Nicholas paid a visit. The students also sing songs about Saint Nicholas coming, and then they go caroling around Smith and Seawell.
These traditions all mean a lot to everyone in the class. Blake says “We get to connect to the french culture and experience. We don't just learn and read about the traditions, we actually get to participate in them.  It really helps keep us motivated to learn about the culture.”
In April, a new tradition will take place for the eighth grade students. They will get to meet their pen pals, who they have been corresponding with for two years. Some students will get to host a pen pal. They will also go to WIlliamsburg, Va, and show them what it is like to be a student here at Smith.
It is safe to say that the French class has many traditions that makes the class unique. With Madame Mcmahon as their teacher, future students will continue to enjoy these traditions.            

English translation of “L”homme Qui Te Ressemble”

The man who looks like you                                             
I knocked on your door
I knocked at your heart
for good bed
for good fire
why should I push?
Open to me my brother ...

Why do you ask
if I am in Africa
if I am of America
if I'm Asian
if I am in Europe?
Open to me my brother ...

Why do you ask
the length of my nose
the thickness of my mouth
the color of my skin
and the name of my gods?
Open to me my brother ...

I am not a black
I am not a reouge
I am not a white
but I am only a man
Open to me my brother ...

Open up your door
Open up your heart
for I am a man
man of all time
man all the heavens
the man who is like you!.

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