Friday November 08, 2013 | 09:44 AM

 “With cultural diversity and globalization an ever-increasing reality in commerce and international relations, it’s time to bolster support for modern language availability in our schools and community,” says Doris Bonneau.

 Maine’s French Heritage Language Program teaches language and culture.

 

On Wednesday, November 6th, the students in the 5th and 6th grade who participate in the Maine French Heritage Language Program (MFHLP) at Sherwood Heights Elementary School in Auburn, presented their end of module projects on “Roots and Identity: Racines et Identite”. 

Enthusiasm for learning the French language, along with Maine’s Franco-American history are evident in the busy Sherwood 

Heights classroom.

 

MFHLP is an elective for the 5th and 6th graders. There’s even a waiting list of students who want to participate. Another after school program is taught at Fairview School.

Students demonstrated learning French cordial greetings, colors and counting. They also learned about the history of French Canadians, their US immigration beginning in the 19th century and the colonial trauma that impacted the Acadians who were forcibly deported in 1755, out of Nova Scotia (Acadia).

Children were asked to interview 3 guests: an Acadian (a descendant of a victim of the deportation), a Franco-American and a new immigrant. This was followed by their module presentations, food and songs. 

Students at Sherwood Heights MFHLP

Front row from left:  Hailey Strout, Logan McConaughey, Katelynn Burgess, Lily Vincent, Lucas Pushard, Alisha Sayler and Morgan Giard

Back row from left:  Diane Webster, Sophia Therrien, Jayden Robison and teachers Jacynthe Jacques (teacher at Sherwood Heights) and Coordinator Diane Pelletier-Perron who also teaches at Fairview School.

 

Students asked their guests questions in French:

“Comment vous appelez-vous?” (What is your name?); or “Ou etes-vous nes?” (Where were you born?); or “Quelle est votre chanson francaise préférée? (What is your favorite French song?); or “Comment sont-ils venus dans le Maine?” (How did you come to Maine?).

Doris Bonneau is the assistant coordinator of the MFHLP in Auburn, and teaches at the Sherwood Heights Elementary and at Fairview School. 

Bonneau coordinates with a group of adult educators.

Included in the curricula are history and culture about how Maine’s Franco-Americans connect with Francophones throughout the world.

Teachers at Sherwood Heights MFHLP in Auburn

MFHLP teachers from left:  Diane Pelletier-Perron, Jacynthe Jacques, Doris Bonneau and Yacine Sylla a Bates College student from Senegal who assists on Wednesdays.

“The good news is that our program is thriving for a second year. We enjoy full funding for this school year,” she says. Nevertheless, sustainability challenges are being addressed to keep the programs funded beyond this year.

As a result, Bonneau and others are seeking a sponsoring organization to serve as the program’s fiscal agent while funding, and tuition options are explored and implemented. “Our program is ready to become self sustaining,” she says. 

Bonneau is engaging community leaders to help develop a way for the MFHLP to become integrated into existing educational programs.

A strategic planning effort held in October at the Auburn Public Library created “Friends of the MFHLP”. This committee will guide the sustainability efforts, the integration of services and create networking partnerships. Sponsors are being recruited to help with expenses related to the food and theme celebrations. 

“With cultural diversity and globalization an ever-increasing reality in commerce and international relations, it’s time for us to bolster support for modern language availability in our schools and community,” says Bonneau.

 “Racines et Identite” teaches about the two Franco-American groups. They learn about the discovery of New France (Nouvelle France) in Quebec as well as the history of the colonial French people who settled Acadia (later named Nova Scotia by the English). Visible in the classroom are a pair of tri-color French-Acadian flags adorned with a gold star, adopted as an international symbol of Acadians, on August 15, 1884 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Acadia_). August 15th is the Feast Day of the Acadians who were the victims of the tragic deportation called “Le Grand Derangement”.

French Acadian Flags in MFHLP

Acadian Trois Couleurs

“Theme One created two timelines.One depicting the French-Canadian immigration to New England and the other demonstrating the deportation of Acadians,” explains Diane Pelletier-Perron, Coordinator of the program.

Contact the MFHLP about getting involved:

Doris Bonneau: dbbonneau1@gmail.com

Diane Pelletier-Perron  colibridyster@hotmail.com

About this Blog

Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.

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