The Franco-American Heritage Center and the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection kick-started a pilot program for local schools by co-sponsoring a visit by renowned Lewiston story-teller Michael Parent to Sherwood Heights School in Auburn on November 18.
The program, which was an internal event for Sherwood Heights students only, featured some of Michael’s famous songs and stories, as well the opportunity for some hands-on activities, such as learning to step-dance, and play the spoons.
The event was the initiative of Doris Bonneau, a retired educator, who has been organizing Saturday morning ‘Fun in French’ sessions for children aged 3-10 and their parents or care givers at the Franco-American Heritage Center since September. “Reconnecting children and adults to their Francophone Heritage is energizing and sparks collaboration with other organizations working towards the same end,” says Bonneau.
Co-sponsoring the event was USM’s Franco-American Collection. “It just made sense for us to work together on something like this,” says Collection Coordinator, James Myall. “Having local children engage with Franco heritage is something both our organizations support, and by pooling our resources, we can make a real difference.”
Parent’s visit marked the launch a pilot after-school French Program for 3rd and 4th grade Sherwood Heights’ students and other future events at Lewiston-Auburn schools. This new program is part of the nationally-recognized French Heritage Language Program, already in place in New York and Miami. It will debut in Auburn and Augusta Maine this spring!
Anyone interested in learning more about the initiative should contact Doris Bonneau at 207-782-7272 or Rita Dube at the Franco American Center located at 46 Cedar Street in Lewiston, who can be reached at 207-783-1585. The program is particularly interested in hearing from adults who would be willing to act as ‘cultural ambassadors’ for Maine’s French Heritage, and assisting Doris with administering the program.
USM’s Franco-American Collection is located in the campus of USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College at 51 Westminster Street, and James Myall can be reached at 207-753-6545.