Graduation Ceremony Honoring Bilingual Program Students of PS58 and PS84
On June 15, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York celebrated the 5th grade graduation of students from the French-Dual Language programs at PS58 and PS84. Deputy Cultural Counselor Thomas Michelon addressed the students with the following speech.
Dear parents, teachers, students—pioneers in our quest for French bilingual education, welcome to the cultural services of the French Embassy!
Tonight we celebrate a great accomplishment: the graduation of our students at P.S. 58 and P.S. 84.
There are so many of you here today, and this old mansion, the Payne Whitney Mansion, looks younger and brighter with you in it. It is full of hope and possibility.
We are meeting here today to celebrate because we wanted to honor your role in the very special relationship that unites France and the United States. You are the living pioneers of this great friendship. Perhaps more than you know, your world will need you. You will build the world of tomorrow. Your imagination, intelligence, dreams and ideas will color the society of our future. In other words, we’re counting on you to keep up the good work and continue to make your parents and teachers as proud as they are today, so you can be leaders of the future.
But first and foremost, congratulations! You did it! Your parents, family and teachers couldn’t be more proud of you. Thanks to all of your hard work, you made it through. You are smarter and wiser than ever.
You have a really valuable skill in your pocket, and that is knowing the French language. When you know another language, you have a special window into the culture of that language, and that enables you to understand a whole lot of people who others might not be able to connect with. Il existe un proverbe arménien qui dit : “On est autant de fois homme que l’on parle de langues” – or in English : « Speak many tongues, you will be many men and women ».
French is a very special language to know.
Today it is the second most widely taught foreign language in the world. It is the only language, other than English, that is spoken on five continents, which means that in entire sections of our world, History is happening in French. Some says it will be spoken by seven hundred and fifty million people by 2050.
I am pleased to report that our bilingual revolution has gathered so much momentum. A few years ago, in 2007, when we started our programs, there was only one teacher and 24 students in Brooklyn. But now it serves over 1500 students, with 65 teachers, in 7 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and soon 1 high school. We plan to open many more.
I want you all to applaud all of our incredibly important teachers…Our dedicated principals, Evelyn Lolis… Katie Dello Stritto… Annick Leman… Please don’t forget to give a big thank you to your teachers. And of course to your parents as well, who have been by your side all along to love and support you.
Again, congratulations to you!
And now, I give the floor to Mrs. Evelyn Lolis!