Student wins national French award

Student wins national French award

Selene Rubino

 Senior Claire Yang wins AAFT’s annual Outstanding Senior in French Award, as expected 

Since 2003, the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) has held a contest to find the nation’s best French students at the high school level. In the whole of her career at MVHS, French teacher Lise Gabet has nominated exactly three students. This year, senior Claire Yang won.

The Outstanding Senior in French award, restricted to non-native French speakers with at least three years of French study, was awarded to less than 200 high school seniors studying in U.S. private or public schools last year. To win, a student must demonstrate excellence in French language and culture through school and extracurricular activities.

Yang, apart from receiving high grades in French AP, is also an officer of the National French Honor Society.

"I nominated her but I knew she was going to win," Gabet said. "Claire is an excellent student. She writes well, and knows the language inside out."

Since the nomination is a secret process, involving only a teacher letter of recommendation and transcript, Yang learned of the award only when she received it.

"It was actually really surprising because Madame Gabet just got it in her mail and I didn’t even realize that I had been registered for it," Yang said. "She was like, ‘Oh, congratulations you won this French award’, something about the National French Teacher’s Association, and then Mr. Metheany came in."

At the same time the award is sent to the recipient, a congratulatory letter was sent to the principal. Assistant Principal Brad Metheany entered Yang’s French period to compliment her in person.

"She was so red, blushing," Gabet said.Senior Claire Yang demonstrates her knowledge of the French language. This year Yang won an Outstanding Senior in French award from the American Association of Teachers of French.

According to the AATF, the award is meant to encourage students to continue studying French. For Yang, it has served its purpose.

"I definitely tried to work harder in French, because I don’t want to let Madame Gabet down," Yang  said. "I never really thought of myself as exceptional in French, so this award has driven me to try to do better."


Last year, Gabet also nominated a senior for the award. Class of 2009 alumnus Tarun Galigali used his expertise in debate to found a series of intermural French debates, for which he also won an Outstanding Senior in French Award. The secret to Gabet’s success?

"I’m interested in teaching diversity, to accept other cultures, to try to understand," Gabet said. "I dream of a peaceful world. For me, that’s a step in the right direction."