St. Joseph’s Academy seniors in Jill Abadie and Jackie Zeller’s English IV classes enjoyed a multi-faceted, cross-curricular project which culminated on February 21 with six class representatives visiting the Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet (FLAIM) elementary school. FLAIM is Baton Rouge’s only public elementary foreign language immersion school for grades K-5.
The project began with the seniors writing children’s stories incorporating French words to emphasize the Norman influence on the English language during the medieval period. Then, the students used laser cutters in the Andrea Clesi McMakin ’74 STEM Lab to design and make wooden covers for the books. The books were bound using techniques from the Middle Ages.
SJA French teacher Glynis Davis put Abadie and Zeller in contact with Christine Renaud-Merchant, world language coordinator with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. She arranged for the six seniors to visit FLAIM and read the books to first through third graders. The books were then donated to the elementary school.
Ellie Fahey said she thoroughly enjoyed the visit to FLAIM. “This was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was so awesome to see how the first graders could speak fluently with the teacher. When we finished reading, they told us the French words they heard in the story. It was amazing to hear all of the words that they remembered, even if we couldn’t say them right. At the end of the visit, we went into a first-grade Mandarin class, and it blew my mind how they could speak so fluently at such a young age. It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and one that I won’t forget any time soon.”
Kaitlyn Gaudet was equally impressed. “Walking into a classroom full of first graders fluently speaking French was so intimidating,” she said. “They had full conversations in French, and not a word of English was spoken. I loved this experience. To see such young children speaking fluently in different languages was inspiring. They invited us to come to their world festival, and we all got excited because we would all love to go back to the school and spend more time with the children and maybe learn some new words. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Emma Daniel said the young children’s language literacy was amazing. “I was left without words at how well these kids could speak,” she said.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Jill Abadie