By NANCY WU
In recent years, the French program at University High School (UHS) has experienced significant changes. Several French teachers have left UHS and new teachers have replaced them. Yet when students who were initially expecting to take AP French or French 4 received their schedules this year, they were shocked to discover that UHS is no longer offering French classes above level 3. These startling new changes have left students slightly disappointed.
Beatrice de Berry was one of the French teachers at UHS a few years ago, during a time when the French program was not as popular. Upon Ms. De Berry’s retirement in 2012, Grace Kim was hired. That year, students’ interest in taking French grew considerably. As more French classes were opened, the number of French students grew as well. Unfortunately, after the end of last year, Ms. Kim relocated to another school, marking yet another transition in the French department. Currently, Ms. Grant and Ms. Raitt are the new French teachers.
This year, only French 1, 2, and 3 classes are offered at UHS. “I understand why the school isn’t able to have higher level French classes, but it was disappointing not being able to take French 4 or AP French,” says Ashley Kwon (Sr.). There are many other former French students who are also disappointed with the new changes to the French program. Mr. Pate (Assistant Principal) explained that this change occurred because “UHS doesn’t have the allocations from the district be able to fund” the advanced level French classes.
Students who are interested in pursuing higher level French classes are able to take those courses at Irvine Valley College (IVC) at an additional cost. However, few students have taken up this opportunity. “It seems a bit of a hassle,” said Megan Ling (Sr.). “Perhaps the quality of IVC French classes is stellar, but it seems that the effort to go to IVC outweighs the possibility of a foreign language class credit.” Most seniors have decided to simply not take French this year instead of going to IVC. To them, after having completed the recommended three years of foreign language, this new change does not pose as big a problem than perhaps it does to the underclassmen.
Some colleges recommend that high school students take four years of a foreign language instead of three, and as most UHS students are particularly high achieving, some underclassmen have decided to switch to another language in order to fulfill those requirements. The majority of the underclassmen plan to take French classes up until French 3. Fortunately, Ms. Grant is currently working towards creating a French 4 class next year. If enough students are interested in taking the course, French 4 will most likely be added in the 2015-2016 school year.
The French program has become popular at UHS and many are hopeful the department will grow. Annie Koo (So.) said, “I really love French class and I feel that it’s a class that definitely deserves further levels for those who are interested.”