Fantastique! Scecina students enjoy French Congrès state competition

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By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

Eight brave Scecina students went to Creekside Middle School in Carmel to participate in the 2020 state French academic competition called Congrès on February 15.

Scecina’s French students brought home a total of 12 awards, including first place in five events.

Scecina students and teacher pose for group photo at Congres

Mrs. El-Murr (left) with French students at Congrès.

“Well, we are Crusaders!” said French teacher Leila El-Murr. “We went, we saw, we conquered!”

It was the second consecutive year Ms. El-Murr has taken her students to Congrès.

“I am so proud of our students for all their hard work and their many successes at Congrès this year,” she said.

Junior Lorenzo Bender, participating in French 3, won first place for poetry recitation and second place in sight-reading. Lorenzo is an international student from Porto Alegre, Brazil, whose first language is Portuguese. He now is taking Spanish and French at Scecina.

WATCH: Lorenzo recites Victor Hugo poem in French

“It felt really good to see how my French compared with students at other schools, and to see other French teachers besides Ms. El-Murr, since she’s the only French teacher I’ve had in my life,” he said. “Other teachers had different accents with their French. Accents can be a great barrier, so being able to recognize and understand them is really good.

“It obviously felt good to win. It always does,” said Lorenzo. “But also meeting new students from other schools was good as well. … I definitely will do it again next year.”

Lorenzo now knows four languages, including English.

“I really like languages. The more you know, the easier it is to know another one,” he said.

Senior Dontaye Hamilton, in his second year at Congrès, won first place for his poetry recitation and third place for History and Culture in French 2

“It was fun,” he said. “You get to meet people who have the same interests as you.”

Dontaye hopes to use his French to study abroad during college.

Ms. El-Murr said participating in Congrès gives students a way to showcase their talents and abilities while being able to recall as much information as possible from as many different aspects as possible.

“It is a rigorous contest that allows our students to meet others from around the state who share their passion and enthusiasm for French,” she said. “It is also a day to have fun, socialize, and try new things.”

Ms. El-Murr noted that two students won first place for extemporaneous speaking: sophomore Maria Coronado in French 1 and sophomore Cassandra Rodriguez in French 2. They were shown an image for the first time and then had to describe the picture, in French, for one minute on the spot.

Dontaye said Ms. El-Murr’s passion is contagious with her students.

“She’s fun, and she’s very energetic,” he said. “I like the energy and vibe.”

Scecina winners at Congrès are:

French 1: Sophomore Maria Coronado, first place, extemporaneous speaking

French 2

  • Sophomore Cassandra Rodriguez, first, extemporaneous speaking; second, poetry recitation; second, sight-reading.
  • Senior Dontaye Hamilton, third, History and Culture; first, poetry recitation.

French 3

  • Junior Grace Swinefurth, first, geography (of francophone Africa); second, poster.
  • Junior Lorenzo Bender, first, poetry recitation; second, sight-reading.
  • Junior Jacob Sitzman, fourth, History and Culture; fourth, poetry recitation.

Other participants included juniors Amori Curiel and Tamyra Hunt. Senior Aleks Orange-Miller sent a poster as well.

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