French students make video, win cash

by Jessica Steves, Reporter

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Five Linganore students—seniors Bridget Dolan, Jack Garabedian, Tyler Graham, and Jessica Long, as well as sophomore Rhiannon Wiland—won third place in the National French Week Video/Animation Contest with a video titled “French in New Markets”. The contest was hosted by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF). They won 100 dollars and six certificates — one for each of them, and one for their school.

The video was filmed in an otherwise empty classroom, with some desks, a few chairs, a cellphone, and a bubu (a type of male clothing popular in Senegal) as the only props. Rhiannon Wiland acted as the camerawoman, and the rest of the participants were actors.

Dolan, Graham, and Long play the part of American businesspeople having a conference and attempting to find new markets for their products. Deciding on Africa, they pick up a phone and call an African businessman (Garabedian) to negotiate business deals. However, the African businessman doesn’t speak English. Dolan attempts to communicate with him in Spanish (Dolan is the secretary of the Spanish Honor Society). Unfortunately, the African man doesn’t understand Spanish either.

Finally, one actor attempts to speak French with the African businessman. This is a romance language that the businessman understands, and they settle down to haggling.

Every year, the AATF hosts two online contests that are available to every high school student in America. The contests are meant to challenge both the creativity of French-speaking students, as well as their grasp of the language that they are learning.

“[The contest] is a great opportunity,” says Mrs. Dragana Blonder, French teacher. “There are not many other opportunities for students to speak French outside the classroom.”

French Honor Society members are required to enter at least one of the two contests every year, with the involvement of other students outside the Society  encouraged but not required. Typically, the theme of the contest is made public in October, and students have until the 15th of November to complete their entries and submit them to the AATF for judging. They can choose between writing a short essay (fewer than 350 words) or filming a two-minute video.

After Graham, Garabedian, Wiland, Dolan, and Long finished filming the video, they submitted it electronically to the AATF and posted it on YouTube.

Some of the actors were nervous. “The biggest shock I felt was after filming, when I realized that people across the country would see the video,” said Dolan.

Graham, on the other hand, was much more relaxed, “I’ve filmed stuff before,” he said. “In French 4 we filmed a 12-minute mini-movie.” Graham also appears on the morning announcements.

“I never thought we would place in a nationwide contest,” says Bridget Dolan, echoing the sentiments of the rest of the cast.

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