Envision Cinderella speaking French, Belle chatting with the Beast in Spanish and another fairy-tale princess complaining about “el guisante” (“the pea,” in Spanish) under her mattress.
The multilingual skits highlighted Blach Intermediate School’s Mardi Gras celebration Feb. 13, performed by eighth-graders who take French or Spanish.
It was the 17th time Blach students commemorated Mardi Gras – French teacher Gail Wade and a Spanish teacher who no longer works at the school launched the event in 1999. Wade now collaborates with Spanish teacher Hector Lopez to keep the tradition alive.
“We wanted to celebrate the fact that they had spent two years dedicated to a language,” Wade said of the foreign-language students. “We thought: Mardi Gras and Carnival are celebrated in both French-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries, so we could do something about it together.”
Blach’s two-year World Language program offers French and Spanish, so the eighth-graders are in their second year of study.
The Mardi Gras celebration started out with skits, salsa lessons taught by a professional and food brought in by parents, Wade said, and has since evolved into an all-day affair that also features a mask-making competition, a lunch partly prepared by students, games and a film festival of student-produced videos.
While making masks in small groups for the competition, students expressed enthusiasm about the Mardi Gras celebration.
Emeline Gaunce noted that it was a “good way to get out of the school zone” for a day.
“You feel you have a lot more freedom,” she said.
Aida Yezalaeul saw the event as an opportunity to learn about French culture.
“We’ve focused on the language, and I think it’s also important to know the history and the culture of France,” she said.
Armaan Hedayati said he liked the way the event brought French and Spanish classes together.
“I’m taking Spanish, but instead of just learning Spanish, I also get exposed to French, ” he said. “And this is a great way to connect with other students in general.”
Bridget Stuebner and Maya Itty agreed that the event helped students in French and Spanish classes mingle. They also said it marked a milestone in their language learning.
Blach Principal Bhavna Narula said the school’s annual Mardi Gras festivities are designed to encourage students to participate in a celebration common in Hispanic and French cultures, while also honoring their commitment to language learning and their growth.
“This celebration embodies the spirit of the student, staff and parent community at Blach coming together to celebrate our students’ hard work and learning,” Narula said.