The events of the past two days in Paris have been truly horrifying. We know Beyond The Brochure readers are as devastated as we are at the loss of life and the attack on the freedom of speech. Here’s how Lycée International de Los Angeles (LILA) showed solidarity with France and helped students express their sympathy. –Christina
Los Angeles, CA – January 8, 2015 – While France is mourning the dead from a fatal act of terrorism on January 7, 2015, many countries are expressing sympathy and support. At Lycée International de Los Angeles (LILA) where almost half of the students on its five campuses are of French nationality, of French origins, or Francophiles, the emotional reaction has been acute.
“As a school whose origins are deeply anchored in the French language and culture, the LILA community stands in solidarity with France and her people in light of the awful attacks in Paris,” said Michael Maniska, LILA’s Head of School.
A minute of silence was observed on the school’s secondary campus in Burbank on the morning of the attack. On January 8th, the following day, a whole school assembly was held in order to pay respects to the victims of the tragedy. “It is essential for us to both educate and inform our students in order to provide them with the tools to enable them to understand such a tragic event,” explained Anneli Harvey, Director of the Burbank campus. The assembly, conducted in French, was led by LILA’s Secondary Academic Director,Emmanuel Bonin, who said, “We remain firm believers in France’s national motto of liberté, égalité, fraternité.” The somber students, many of whom had attended an homage to the victims in Los Feliz the night before, talked about the cartoonists, journalists and police officers who were killed in the ambush that marked France’s deadliest act of terrorism since 1961.
“Just as my father grew up with Charlie Hebdo, I was also doing the same,” said 11th grader Théo Grison of the satirical left-wing newspaper that became famous for its controversial and irreverent cartoons and reports skewering politics, culture, and religion. “Killing these journalists is like killing freedom of expression. We are mourning the people who died but we are also mourning the death of an essential freedom.”
I’m thrilled to welcome one of my favorite admissions directors, Juliette Lange, M.Ed., of Lycée International de Los Angeles (LILA), to the blog today! Juliette graciously agreed to answer my questions about LILA admissions. I first met Juliette when I wrote a school profile about LILA.
1. How would you describe the educational philosophy of LILA?
LILA teaches a bilingual program from preschool through 12th grade culminating in the French Baccalauréat or the International Baccalaureate. Students are taught to read, write, and speak both languages by the end of their elementary education. Satisfying both the Common Core State Standards and the French Ministry of Education’s requirements, necessitates a rigorous schedule; the percentage of each language of instruction varies at each grade level.
2. LILA is a dual immersion language school. Does this mean if students enter at kindergarten they will speak French when they graduate at 12th grade?
LILA aims to offer more than the mere knowledge of at least two languages. Our ultimate goal is to form fully bi-literate students capable of functioning in two linguistic worlds. To achieve this goal, LILA specifically avoids dividing students based upon their dominant language. At the very foundation of the educational program is a policy of integration: young Americans must be integrated into French classes and French children must study English along with their American classmates. Thus, by getting to know one another, students are able to appreciate both the French and American cultures; they are able to compete in both systems; they are able to feel at home in an American living room and à l’aise at a French dinner table.
3. What do you look for in prospective families for kindergarten? What about for 6th or 7th grade?
Ultimately we look for enthusiasm and an understanding of what a bilingual education means – for commitment to the project. At 6th grade, it takes a very special family and a very different kind of student to be able to integrate and follow a program that is designed for French native speakers. This is usually only possible for those already coming from France, another Lycee or school teaching the same curriculum or a student who is already speaking French at home.
4. Do you have to be French to be part of the school’s community?
Absolutely not. In fact most of our students are not French. What is paramount is an openness to the French culture and to the French philosophy of education.
5. Applying for kindergarten in L.A. can be very stressful for parents and kids. Can you give our readers some tips for surviving the application process?
You need to be yourself and to be ready to convince us of why you want this for your family and your child. Often this is about showing us that you understand different cultures and what it means to be immersed in another language. Sometimes, it’s a sheer commitment to offering this to your child because you would have so wished it for yourself.
6. In your opinion, what are some common mistakes parents make when applying to LILA?
Parents are often not prepared for the work involved and the cultural understanding required in having their child educated in a language and an educational system that is not their own.
7. Does LILA offer financial aid?
Yes. Financial aid is offered from the second year onward. In past years, up to 25% of LILA’s student body has received some degree of financial aid, either from France (15%) or directly from LILA (10%).
8. What are some of LILA’s qualities that you’re most proud of?
At LILA we adopt ways of thinking and expression that reflect an appreciation for cultural differences and multiple world views. Diverse groups learn more from each other when exchanging different points of view, introducing new pieces of information, and confronting alternative ideas. LILA’s small and nurturing classes facilitate the sharing of different viewpoints.
Being immersed in a truly multicultural environment helps develop the ability to better understand one’s own culture – what makes it different, but also in which ways it is similar. This, in turn, helps maintain a strong sense of one’s own background. Teachers, staff and students come from all over the world, each bringing their own experiences and perspectives. Our students study and live in a world community every day.
LILA just opened its new secondary school in Burbank. Congratulations!