Education feature: French students expand learning with club

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo French Club Vice President Bryan Wygant, left, and President Sarafina Kwaku practice holding a conversation in French Tuesday in teacher Jennifer Kelley’s classroom.

Liliana Castillo

In French class at Clovis High School, students led by French teachers Diana Huey and Jennifer Kelley talked about crepes.

In French club, the students made and ate crepes.

That is one example of how French club allows students to study a topic they’ve covered in class more in-depth.

Kelley was a student of Huey’s and then was her student teacher. Now the two work together in adjoined classrooms as the only two French teachers at the high school and advisors to the French Club, which Kelley was a member of as a CHS student.

“We expand what we do in class. We get into more cultural things in the club that we just can’t do in class because we don’t have enough time,” Huey said.

The club meets twice a semester and each year performs a service project. This year, the club held a Mardi Gras Queen competition. Candidates for Queen raised money and whomever raised the most money was crowned. The students also gave beads and crowns to children in the hospital.

Breann Albracht raised the most and together the candidates raised $288. Albracht chose to donate the money to the Clovis Animal Shelter.

The club also held Crepe Mania and a fondue party which included a French scavenger hunt in which students had to travel around town to find thing such as a recipe in French or instructions in French. At Christmas time, the club sold European Advent calendars.

The club has about 60 members and between 30 and 40 are active, Kelley said.

“I like it because it’s learning something new,” Club Vice President Bryan Wygant said. “There is a lot of Hispanic culture around here so this is another culture we get to experience.”

Wygant, a senior, said he was interested in European history before joining the club two years ago and the club discusses history often. They also discuss French current events including what music is popular in France now.

“It gives you a tangible idea of what’s going on,” Wygant said of talking about something like crepes in class and then making them in the club. “It’s good and well to see a photo but when you can make it and touch it, it helps you learn something better.”

Club President Sarafina Kwaku has also been in the club two years.

“I like being able to experience different cultures,” she said.

Kwaku’s father is from West Africa and her mom’s family is from Europe.

“Different cultures are a big deal in my house,” Kwaku said.

Kwaku said expanding on topics discussed in class helps her learn.

“Class can get boring,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to remember things and it’s more enjoyable when you get to touch them.”

Huey said learning any language expands a person’s world.

“Statistics show that learning a new language helps with math, English language comprehension and it expands vocabulary because it’s a language based on Latin,” Huey said.

Being bilingual also gives students a “leg up” in the job market, she said.

Kelley said French is the most referenced language in the world.

“Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little world,” she said. “It’s good for student to see a whole other culture.”