February 12, 2021


With lots of winter-time activities filling up our days at L'Ecole lately (sledding, snowshoeing, snowman building, skating, and more), we hope this spirit of outdoor fun carries each of our students through the February Break! We have reached the maximum amount of sign-ups we can accept for our small group attending February Vacation Camp and are looking forward to enjoying a few days off from "school" here at school-- with a focus on offering childcare; we'll be filling our days with games, art projects, and plenty of outdoor fun.

To keep our school community members accountable to the pledge, we would appreciate all families complete the following survey to gather information about intended vacation plans. If you have already disclosed your plans to the office or signed up for the February Vacation Camp, there is no need to complete the survey.

In this newsletter edition: Travel/gathering policy reminder in light of February Break, a review of our latest Ice Arena Friday, planning for summer, and some wonderful updates from each classroom!

As always, please reach out to Emily in the office with any questions: office@frenchschool.me
Continued Travel/Gathering Policy: February Vacation
Although it may feel like we are turning a corner when it comes to the pandemic, with many of our families who work in healthcare receiving their vaccines, we want to urge all members of our community to remain cautious and perform their due diligence to maintain the safety of our school at large. For the February Vacation, we would like all families to be reminded of our Community Pledge.

The current protocols will remain for anyone traveling/gathering outside of their household, something strongly recommended against.

  • Families and staff who avoid travel and stay within pods using safety measures such as distancing/masking may continue to attend school without quarantine or testing.

  • Families and staff who choose to travel and/or mix with those outside their household (visiting or hosting) must do one of the following to return to school:

  1. Get a PCR test on the 5th day following your return from travel or your last day of mixing and return with a negative result.
  2. Quarantine 10 days following your return from travel or your last day of mixing. (This has been revised from the original 14-day quarantine recommendation to be per the most recent CDC and Maine CDC guidelines)

Although current state policy deems a few select states as being exempt, our school policy will now be that any family who travels to meet with or hosts anyone from outside their immediate household/pod will be required to perform a 5-day quarantine post-travel/exposure, followed by a negative PCR test to return to school. Given the degree of community spread of coronavirus in Maine, we can no longer travel outside the state as the determining factor.

If opting to travel, it is recommended you schedule travel-related testing as soon as possible to ensure a safe and timely return to school. If you have any questions regarding how your family plans match up with these protocols, please do not hesitate to ask us - preferably BEFORE you travel/gather.

These protocols were developed and revised by Dr. Gaetane Michaud, MD, Pulmonary Critical Care, USF Tampa, and parent at the French American School of Tampa Bay and by Dr. James Gallea, MD, Emergency Medicine Specialist and parent at l'Ecole Française du Maine.
Merci, Troubh and our skating families!
Sometimes having to get creative can make way for a new tradition! Thank you to Troubh and all participating families for making our Ice Arena events this year so enjoyable and memorable. Next year, with hopes for some Sugarloaf Fridays, we will likely keep Troubh skating in mind! It was so fun to skate alongside Sadie this past Friday and for our parents and students to be reminded of the joys of a small school community. Merci!
Adult Education & DELF Ongoing Enrollment
Our second semester of online Adult Education classes will be off to a new start next week! For those interested in enrolling, please follow this link for more details and select the appropriate semester when submitting sign-up! Classes will be hosted online every Tuesday evening at 6:00-7:30 via zoom. We hope you can join us!
Also, for ongoing enrollment, please use this link to sign-up for any of the four quarters of our DELF programs throughout this school year. More information to be found on the form as well.
Calendrier Scolaire 2021-2022
Thank you to all who contributed their thoughts to our recent survey regarding building a school calendar for 2021-2022. Listening to the majority vote, we have decided to begin early again next year, with the first day of school planned for August 23rd, 2021. Please use this link to review the entirety of the calendar.
Looks like we are on the "write" track
by teaching cursive!!
Why cursive handwriting needs to make a school comeback

Article by Hetty Roessingh, Professor - University of Calgary
featured in The Conversation- Academic Rigor, Journalistic Flair

Teaching connected-style handwriting, otherwise known as cursive handwriting, has fallen out of fashion on many school curricula. Older generations have sometimes been shocked that some younger people today can’t sign their names on official documents or even read a handwritten note.

Canadian provinces have seen a decline in teaching and learning cursive. In Ontario schools, for example, teachers might introduce cursive, but it’s not mandatory.

Such a development is reflective of larger trends of focusing less on teaching and assessing handwriting for itself — and more on what it’s communicating.

Alberta’s kindergarten to Grade 9 curriculum, for example, stipulates that students learn to “listen, speak, read and write” and also envisions outcomes that require printing, such as connecting prior ideas. But the curriculum doesn’t mandate assessing printing skills themselves. In Alberta’s 2018 new draft curriculum yet to be implemented, cursive is mentioned, but it’s not identified as a competency.

Beyond nostalgia for the pre-digital age, there are good reasons why cursive handwriting needs to make a comeback. As a researcher who has studied the relationship of handwriting to literacy, along with other scholars, I’ve found that developing fluency in printing and handwriting so that it comes automatically matters for literacy outcomes. Handwriting is also an elegant testimony to the human capacity for written literacy and an inspiring symbol of the unique power of the human voice.

Too difficult?

In today’s age of digital literacy, many think handwriting is irrelevant altogether and a waste of precious instructional time. But touching a “d” on the keyboard, for example, does not create the internal model of a “d” that printing does. Keyboarding can wait.

Some may associate cursive with any number of outdated formats of handwriting that may have indeed seemed like a curse to master — loopy, twisty, and hard on little hands in terms of muscle movement and also for visual memory.

But handwriting is only difficult if it is not automatic and, in turn, offloaded into long-term memory. Evolving research in the neurosciences underscores the importance of developing automatic skills in relation to what educational psychologists call the cognitive load.

Lessons learned from sports or the performing arts highlight the importance of establishing neuronal connections that promote fluid movement. With reading and writing, too, the keys to unlocking creativity or interpretation of story elements are also related to being able to write automatically.

Lack of fluency

By Grade 4, the cognitive demands of curriculum quickly accelerate: students must produce more, faster, and better. Students who have fluent handwriting consequently have more working memory capacity available to plan, organize, revise and retrieve sophisticated vocabulary.

In a study I conducted with my colleagues of about 250 Grade 4 students in an Alberta school, we found that only about half of the students in our study achieved the necessary threshold in handwriting.

These children’s handwriting was insufficient to communicate the complexity of vocabulary and ideas expected in Grade 4. Most students had vocabulary they were not able to mobilize onto the page. Students’ failure to reach the required threshold of expression at this level is associated with a phenomenon recognized by researchers as the Grade 4 slump, a drop in outcomes from which students may not necessarily recover.

Improving literacy outcomes
Schools must and can do better, starting early. The key is not only teaching cursive but a greater focus on all printing to cursive handwriting, spelling instruction, and fine motor skills. These developments are essential for literacy foundations in the kindergarten to Grade 3 years.

Building on these earlier skills, the key to improving academic outcomes in Grade 4 is teaching young students to connect their letters, resulting in a style of handwriting that is legible and fluent.

Steven Graham, an expert in special education, writing, and literacy at Arizona State University, advocates for beginning with printing or “traditional manuscript” and transitioning to what he calls mixed mostly manuscript, whereby the child is learning a continuous stroke.

Similarly, an example from early literacy scholar Sibylle Hurschler Lichtsteiner of Germany shows a transition from manuscript letters to joined letters. It evolves naturally, with support, from children’s initial style of print in grades 2 to 3. Once young students have internalized stable, mental models of letter shapes, they can generalize and recognize various types of cursive script with a bit of practice.

Power of the pen

Testimonies draw attention to the power of cursive handwriting. The film Saving Private Ryan made famous the historical Bixby Letter written to the mother of sons killed in the American Civil War. While historians debate whether Abraham Lincoln or a member of his staff actually wrote the letter, ongoing interest in the letter through history suggests how human handwriting conveys personhood, care and
captures imagination.
Bourses Scolaires AEFE 2021-2022
Les familles disposant de faibles revenus peuvent demander une aide à la scolarité sous forme de bourses scolaires (de la petite section de maternelle à la classe de terminale) pour leurs enfants inscrits dans les établissements relevant de l’AEFE (Agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger)

Les enfants de nationalité française âgés d’au moins 3 ans, inscrits avec leur famille au registre des Français établis hors de France (plus communément appelée inscription consulaire) et scolarisés ou en voie de scolarisation à l’Ecole française du Maine, homologuée par le ministère de l’Education nationale peuvent prétendre à l’attribution d’une bourse sous conditions de ressources :

Dans tous les cas, les demandes de bourses scolaires doivent être renouvelées chaque année pour chaque enfant concerné. La date limite de dépôt d’un dossier de bourse est fixée au

vendredi 26 février 2021

Bilingual Summer Camp
Some forward-thinking parents have recently inquired about this summer's camp plans at L'Ecole. We are so excited to say that we are planning on hosting summer camp again this year !

Starting up on June 7th (one week after this year's last day of school) and going through until August 13th (with one week before next year's first day) families are welcome to enroll by the weeks of their choosing.

Please read more via the school's webpage for details as well as enrollment forms while you plan your 2021 summer.
Cozy Reading Corner Updates!
The bibliothèques of several classrooms received some special updates recently-- some brand new cozy chairs to enjoy! From Preschool through 2nd grade, we made some much-needed updates with some perfect sized, easily washable, and definitely adorable chairs.
Updates from the Classrooms
After reading, singing, and studying the story of les trois petit cochons, PS students even constructed their own three little houses of "paille", "bois", et "piers".
It's always a fun time in the MS/GS classroom! Students learn a new game almost every other day.
Many friends from Victorien's class got to skate alongside figure skating star and coach Sadie this past week!
Friends in Elodie's class are turning the forest into a winter village! They enjoyed their snowshoe adventure to Sayle's Field while others skated at Troubh last Friday.
Simon's class were tuckered out after their snowshoe trek, and have been building 3D models of shapes they are learning in math!
Le Grand Concours: National French Contest

We are very excited to announce that l’Ecole Française Du Maine has, again this year, decided to participate in the highly recognized National French Contest. Last year, our students received fantastic results. More than half of our participants earned awards. Bravo!

The National French Contest/Le Grand Concours is an annual competition sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French. It was established in 1936 by the Executive Council of AATF to help determine the relative student achievement in the learning of French in the United States. Students of French in grades 1-12, in all 50 states and abroad, take a written test and compete against students with similar educational background for prizes. Grades 1-6 participate in the FLES Contest.

The annual contest currently has around 100,000 participants from elementary schools to high schools in all chapters nationwide. There are seven levels. The first level, FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools), is for elementary school students. Levels 01, and 1 to 5 are for grades 7 to 12. In each level, there are divisions A to E to group students into the different divisions based on prior exposure to French.

Our fantastic students (4rd, 4th, and 5th graders) will be preparing for the contest, which will be happening between February 14th and March 1st. All students will receive personalized awards recognizing their participation and accomplishment. Through this contest, the children are encouraged to gain their confidence and to express themselves freely in French. They will be competing with students from all across the country. We believe challenging our students is a good way to accomplish the unexpected. We are truly confident that our students will do well, and no matter what the results are, we will be sincerely proud of them!
Please contact Laura Piehl at delf@frenchschool.me with any questions you may have.
Supplies Wishlist
The cleaning never stops at EFDM... if you are out and about and see any of the following supplies, our teachers would surely appreciate the donation!

  • disinfectant cleaning wipes
  • adult and child size disposable masks
  • glue sticks
Window to the past ... just for fun
September 2006, Students of L'Ecole Française du Maine were invited on the sailboat "Artforms" in Portland Harbor before her transatlantic crossing. The school followed famed Freeport sailor Kip Stone during his 2006 victorious race of La Route du Rhum (Class 40). The Route du Rhum is the most famous transatlantic single-handed yacht race in the world, which takes place every four years in November. The race is between Saint-Malo, France, and Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe. 

In 2018, Kip returned to l'Ecole Française du Maine ... as a parent this time!
Francis Carlier (teacher in the above photo, on the left) is now director of the French American School of San Diego, and where did these students go to college and graduate school? ....... Well done!

Pomona College, CA
Bowdoin College, ME
Sciences Po, Paris-France
Defense Foreign Language Institute, US Army, CA
Loyola University, LA
Roger Williams University, RI
Bishop's University, Canada
Middlebury College, VT
Yale University, CT
Clarkson University, NY
University of Denver, CO
Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris-France
Skidmore College, NY
University of St Andrews, Scotland
University of Edinburgh, Scotland