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Sitting at the top

French immersion students win big

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/01) - Sir John Franklin high school French immersion students took the bragging rights this year for the annual Dictee Amerique.

Little wonder since the program's teacher, Micheline Ricard, won the international senior's category last year.

Students Rachel MacNeill, Mara Smith and Duncan Hamre won first, second and third respectively. The Nov. 24 competition tested the territory's top French students for knowledge in grammar, spelling, comprehension and conjugation.

MacNeill will go on to the international Dictee in Quebec City, April 6. While there, she will face off against francophone and French immersion students from more than 20 countries, including France, Cote d'Ivoire, and Vietnam.

"It is a huge contest around the world where people speak French," said Ricard. "It's not just because you are francophone that you can do well, you have to be well prepared."

If there is anything to encourage MacNeill when she goes off to fight for top honours for the junior international Dictee next year, it would be history. Former Sir John student Alana Denko won it all five years ago.

Even so, MacNeill considers herself lucky that she has even made it this far.

Second-place winner Smith lost to MacNeill by a single point. Both were surprised that they finished on top.

"Both Rachel and I thought we were going to fail," Smith admitted. "Rachel won, she beat me by a one point."

As for her prospects in Quebec City, MacNeill figures the competition will be stiff.

"OK," MacNeill said when asked how she thought she would fare.

"Probably not very well."