French students celebrate winter carnival

French students learn to play patterns on wooden spoons. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

French students from the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division got a chance to take their language out of the classroom at the third annual French Winter Carnival Friday.

Over 500 staff and students from Arthur Pechey, École Vickers and Debden Schools descended upon Carlton for four hours of indoor and outdoor fun, all in French.

The event is held to bring together the Sask. Rivers French Immersion community, celebrate bilingualism, and French culture while recognizing the pride of belonging to the French community and the lifelong love of learning another language.

Carlton French Immersion students hosted activities, which included playing wooden spoons, basketball, Kin Ball, weaving, an obstacle course and other events.

The event kicked off with an opening ceremony, where all 500 students participated in a series of educational songs with choreographed actions, including one set to the tune of Baby Shark but with lyrics about the various French accents.

The event was supported by l’Association Jeunesse Fransaskoise, the Société Canadienne Francophone de Prince Albert (which provided La tire, maple toffee for all students), Canadian Parents for French, Société Historique de la Saskatchewan and SUNTEP.

“It’s a great opportunity for (students) to model the French language, but also to take some ownership over a wonderful community event,” said Carlton principal Jeff Court.

“It’s great for our kids to be able to be a part of that and show leadership. That’s really what schools are about.”

For parent Stacey Ermine, who was helping out at the La tire station, it was worth it to see the children smiling while celebrating French.

“It’s about coming together with other students and sharing the French language, having a good time and being proud of who they are,” she said.

“Just seeing their faces, smiling and having a good time, is wonderful.”

Arthur Pechey principal Brandi Sparboe said the event gives students an opportunity to see how far French can take them.

‘Today we are celebrating our bilingualism,” she said.

‘We want to have a sense for the students learning French in the classroom that French doesn’t just exist in the classroom. It’s bigger than that. It’s global, and you’re part of a bigger community.”

That message is emphasized seeing some of the Carlton students involved leading the entire event.

“It’s an incredible feeling for our teachers of elementary schools to see their former students, to see the growth and future of French Immersion, and to for the younger students, when it’s hard and doesn’t always make sense, to look at someone who can confidently lead an assembly of 500 people in another language,” she said.

“It’s motivating. It’s something worth celebrating, and I think it just shows that progression for all of these kids.”