French Speakers End Streak

Shea Danforth, Staff Writer

6 French 4/5 students were “shut out” for the first time in 10 years at the annual language competition at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley on March 10.

Before the competition began, junior Samuel Austin was optimistic about his chances.  “I feel that since I’m in the French 4 division and that I have a really strong passion for the language that I can do really well and surprise a lot of people,” he said.

In the first round, each contestant enters a room individually with 5  judges and is given a battery of questions to answer, which they must do in French. The judges then collaborate with one another and score each contestants.

The top contestants then move to the second round, known as the elimination round. In this round, everyone is competing against each other and other schools. Each contestant is only asked 2 personal questions in this round, which they can expand on in order to impress the judges.

According to French teacher and coach of the contestants, Ed Willy, when it comes to winning, it can sometimes just be luck.  He said, “It’s not the speakers, it’s the person who has the best moment.” He even defined the competition as a “job interview,” saying that it’s not always the best speaker who appeals to the judges.

According to Willy, Campolindo’s past success has put a target on their backs. Other schools that are consistently strong are Monte Vista and Las Lomas. However, Berkeley High prevailed this year.

According to junior Julia Giovanni, one of the rules of the competition is that if a student has lived and studied in France, they may not participate in the competition. The winning team, Berkeley High, had their top student place 1st. However, the judges did not know that he moved from France just two years ago. He was not disqualified. Willy refused to comment on the situation.

Giovanni thought her team should have place. She said, “I thought I did pretty well, but the judges didn’t think I did. And as a team, we all did our best, and that’s what matters.”