Bonjour French Week

French Club indulges in various activities to help spread the country’s culture


Photo courtesy of Samantha Vojslavek

Placed on tables in the library among several other rows sits a crafted tombstone. Made by higher level French students, these headstones were made to signify famous people who have passed and provide background or significance to the person and their life. “We did a tour on Monday of the cemetery after it was all set up, and the students created questions to ask their classmates about their headstone,” French teacher Sara Karst said. “My other students created headstones for their ‘alter egos’ or ‘spirit animals.’”

Samantha Vojslavek, Feature Story Editor

Students and staff engaged in a week unlike any other to dive below the surface of French culture. Occurring from Nov. 1-5, the week advertised different aspects of the country in order for all students to become more aware of foreign cultures around the world.

In preparation for this week of celebration, the French department crafted several decorations with a touch of French culture implemented in each piece. With a total of nine displays, some are yearly repeats from past traditions while other displays had not been shown before. Hung along the walls of the 120 hallway are Fleur-de-lis, which means lily flowers. French Club students crafted these flowers and other art from paper materials. This decor represents the lily flowers grown along the Lys River in France, which are a symbol of the country. These flower decorations are hung up each year, and have always received lots of attention and recognition from the school. 

On the newer spectrum are posters with Spotify playlists of multiple genres of French music anyone can scan with their phone to listen. Mirror displays throughout the green mile represented the mirrors inside the Palace of Versailles were also a new addition. Beginning Monday for the first time, miniature tombstones were displayed in the library to celebrate La Toussaint, a day where lost loved ones are honored. French Students selected a famous person to research on and construct a headstone for. Each stone was decorated with paper chrysanthemum flowers and pictures with material that memorialized various individuals’ lives.    

“I think our display of the gravestones were important for other students to learn about because it’s a display of grief and remembrance in a different country,” junior Kali Oleson said. “I think others would find it interesting to learn about other holidays’ in different countries.”

As an easy way for students to participate in the culture enriching event, traditions from previous French Week’s made their appearance again this fall. For this year’s annual spirit week themes, students and staff were encouraged to wear their club shirts, Mardi Gras colors, Tour De France bike wear, stripes and the colors of the French flag. Each morning throughout the week, an administrator asked one French-related trivia question which students had the opportunity to answer digitally with a chance of winning a gift card to the bakery La Petite Paris. Simple additions to the week such as these provided ways for all students to become involved and learn more about France.

“My favorite part of this week has been having people come up to me and compliment our clothes or decorations because it’s been so nice to do something everyone can enjoy,” French teacher Sara Karst said. “I hope students can learn something new that’s interesting to them, something they learn and think, ‘wow that’s so cool to know.’ I hope this week was able to peak their interest and think more about French culture, further than baguettes and mustaches.” 

Learning more about this country has brought together a significant portion of the school as the week progressed. The planned activities gave the French Club the ability to spread their passion for their club and what they viewed as important bits of the culture. 

“French Week is so important because it goes more in depth of French culture and spreads awareness of what goes on in France,” freshman Abigail Baker said. “French Club being present here at Millard West is also important because it provides a space where you can meet so many people who are interested in the things you are as well.” 

As the celebratory week wraps up, participants of the French Club will proceed to promote their club and inform others about the language and country. The previous French Week endured altered activities and faced disruptions because of the pandemic. In contrast, this year’s annual celebration allowed students and staff to become connected and further educated about France in unprecedented ways.