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French students compete in Festival Francophone

12 participate in annual competition, return with 7 awards

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Freshman Esteban Camarillo-Tapia watches senior Lydia Malone practice her viola solo.

Every year, the AATF North Texas Chapter organizes a competition where French students in the DFW area compete in art and academic categories. Twelve French students entered in categories such as folk dance, music video, poetry and art. On Saturday, March 3 these students brought home two first place awards, three second place awards, and two third place awards.

Students and French teacher, Alice French, spent a month preparing for the competition. After paying a $6 entry fee, competitors chose how many contests they wanted to enter. In order to choose categories, some students based their decisions on skill.

“Carina and I have done videos before in the past, so it merely was a repeat of skills that we’ve already used and didn’t require a lot of work,” senior Lydia Malone said. “Getting to dress up and be really dramatic in front of the camera, it’s laughable, it’s fun.”

After a rule change in the contest, this was the first year non-French students were able to compete in the competition.

“[This time], they allowed French club students to participate,” French said. “You don’t have to be in French class to compete, you can just be someone who is representing French which, I think, [enabled] more people to come.”

The contest was held at the Dallas International School, where students come from many francophone, or French-speaking, countries. This allowed the students a chance to test out their French skills.

Sophie Morton, the president of the AATF North Texas Chapter and UNT professor, worked with DIS to put together the competition. The association involves all of the French teachers in the area by having them judge in the different categories. This helps draw more schools to compete and show off their students’ hard work.

“We’re amazed every year at the quality we get,” Morton said. “We want to thank the students for working hard at school.”

Junior Johana Rodriguez entered a photograph of an ornament shaped like the Eiffel Tower. She took the picture in her backyard with her school-issued iPad and won third place.

“The hardest part is finding out what you actually want to do and choosing your category,” Rodriguez said. “It felt good but at the same time I felt really nervous about it. I didn’t think I’d get close to actually [winning], but I did. I was proud of it because I had a short amount of time to do it and it came out pretty good.”

Because it was freshman Devan Burks’ first time in the competition, she was glad to see her hard work submitted. Burks entered a Mardi Gras mask and won third place.

“It was difficult because there were many different designs of Mardi Gras masks and to create your own is actually hard so you won’t copy someone else’s,” Burks said.

Junior Esmeralda Delgado was a substitute for one of the students in the folk dance and it was a little difficult for her because she didn’t learn with the other seven students. Delgado learned the dance routine the day of the competition, though she did know a little bit of it since she watched them practice once. The folk dance group, Francophone Farmers, won second place.

“I know I messed up,” Delgado said. “It was more of a thing for fun. It doesn’t really affect anything and it was a good experience.”

It wasn’t French’s first time at the competition but it was her first time taking students. Last year, she was a student teacher for the former French teacher, Cathy Gelzleichter, who also took students to compete. This year, she was able to see what it’s like to have her own students compete and have a good time.

“It makes me really proud of my students,” French said. “It’s just really fun to take them to things like this and see them grow and see them be recognized for their hard work.”

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