Even during difficult times—indeed, especially during difficult times—it is important to remember nice things. So, I wanted to share with you some special moments that I experienced this past Saturday at The École. I came together with a few other people (Franck Le Martelot, Rachel Loble, Mireille Desalm, Philippe and Laurence, Fabrice Jaumont from the French Consulate and Bill Buford, a former parent) to meet the young students who came to present their work to us. They were there with the hopes of receiving one of our scholarships and being able to join our Middle School at The École.

Middle School Scholarship Program

A word about this program that started last year. It seems to me to be right at the heart of the values that Philippe and Laurence hold. They are known as the benefactors of The École. However, sometimes we forget that, for them, this is a charitable project. The stated objective of this project is to allow as many students as possible to benefit from a bilingual education at a school that they love so much. To this end, offering a full-tuition scholarship to The École to families who would not be able to pay private school fees is, for Philippe and Laurence, a completely natural next step in this project.

This next step also illustrates their desire to see more diversity within the school. They particularly (but not exclusively) wanted to reach out to francophone communities that, up until now, have not really been present at our school. These communities are proud to bear the standard of the French language in New York. Furthermore, beyond the academic talents of the students, the jury also wanted to reward these families who, even though they sometimes had to make sacrifices, maintained a link with the French language.

Growing our Middle School

Finally, this scholarship program is the mark of Philippe and Laurence’s unfailing support of our Middle School classes. Ensuring that we have new MS students sends a strong message to our community. That message is this: our Middle School exists, and we are committed to helping it grow, to making it more engaging and to showing what a positive difference it can make in the lives of our adolescents.

So, last Saturday, we welcomed these students and their families. They told us about their journey so far, their wishes, and they showed us their talents. Despite the stress and the importance of what was at stake, each and every one of them did their very best. They told us about their love of French, how it connects them to their parents and their family. Having all grown up in New York and went to public school from a very young age, they told us how important it was to them.

Scholarship Applicants Speak From Their Hearts

It was difficult, hearing them speak, to not be touched by the drive of these young teenagers. To not admire how brave they were to come spend their Saturday with us and speak in front of people they didn’t know. Once they gained some confidence, they happily spoke about their love of reading, of science, of their successes and their doubts. They spoke about what they’re afraid of and what makes them happy. When they left, the jury came together to deliberate. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, in the room that was ‘full of their absence’, we were unanimous in recognizing their effort, their courage and their talent.

Since my arrival, there have been so many things for which I could thank Philippe and Laurence. But since Saturday, if I had to choose just one, it would be this: the opportunity of meeting these five young people and giving them the chance to join us at the beginning of the next school year. This, in turn, will give our community the opportunity to grow through their experience.