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Rotary president Robert Greer accepts a thank you card from the French Immersion students and their teacher, Magali Forêt, at LeBlanc Elementary.

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Rotarians Tom Thompson, Bernard Duhon and President Robert Greer present a donation for the Leblanc Elementary French Immersion to Madeline DeHart, Supervisor of Foreign Languages for Vermilion Parish.

Rotary Club of Abbeville donates books to French Immersion

The Rotary Club of Abbeville held its weekly meeting at the LeBlanc Elementary School library.
“The Rotary Club of Abbeville is one hundred percent behind French immersion here at LeBlanc Elementary and we want to contribute to its success,” said President Robert Greer.
“This is a collective effort on the part of many Rotarians to provide the French immersion classes with books in French. We are meeting in this beautiful library to present over ten thousand dollars to enrich the literacy program in French,” said Greer.
Principal Rachelle Brown expressed her gratitude for the generous donation.
“It is exciting and heartwarming to get this support. We are starting off our first year of immersion and now have library books in French for our kindergarten students and all the way through fifth grade. Our librarian, Kim Langlinais, purchased over 600 books and they are now on the shelves,” said Brown.
“Thank you, Rotary! Thanks to Vickie and Glenn Conner who have prepared the food today. Thanks also to the immersion parents who placed a label in each book to acknowledge this generous donation.” said Brown.
This generous donation is due in part to Rotarian Bernard Duhon. He got the ball rolling by donating over $6,000 on behalf of the French Acadian Music Festival, Inc.
Tom Thompson of the Abbeville Rotary Club then obtained matching funds from Rotary.
“Over forty years ago, Robert and Margaret Segrera Prejean created the French Acadian Music Festival to celebrate Vermilion Parish’s rich cultural heritage,” said Bernard Duhon.
“Board members Una Evans, Catherine Blanchet, Earldine Duhon, James Fontenot, Lelia LaBauve and I worked tirelessly with Robert and Margaret to document, preserve and promote our history and folkways. As the only board member left, I feel certain that Robert and Margaret would want to support French immersion here at LeBlanc Elementary,” said Duhon. “It’s important to save our French language in Vermilion Parish.”
This sentiment was echoed by several Rotarians during the meeting.
The 1st Grand Maître of the Giant Omelette Celebration, Whitney Achetée, feels that the French immersion program has the same goals and the same vision as those of the Confrérie d’Abbéville.
“We are both seeking to preserve our French heritage and culture,” said Achetée. “We look forward to having these students participate in the Giant Omelette Celebration for years to come.”
Rotarian Jerome Puyau, Superintendent of Vermilion Parish schools, praised the school’s administration and staff for welcoming immersion.
“LeBlanc Elementary is the perfect facility for this immersion program. It’s bringing back the language that is in everyone’s back yard,” said Puyau. “I want to thank Rotarian Dr. Dan Dartez for his continued lobbying for an immersion program in Vermilion Parish and Rotary past president Rob Roy for accepting this project to support immersion. Special thanks also goes to Rotarian Madeline DeHart who works to coordinate it all.”
Rotarian Lloyd Doré gave the school a cd set of folksongs as sung by Caesar Vincent, a resident of Leroy born in 1882 who kept the rich tradition alive in Vermilion Parish.
The highlight of the meeting was the arrival of the 24 students in the French immersion class and their teacher, Magali Forêt. The students presented a thank you card to President Greer and charmed the Rotarians with their French skills. The teacher read a book to the students to further show how the new French books will be used in the classroom as well.
When the students left the room, the Rotarians gave them a standing ovation.
Rotarian Madeline Dehart, Supervisor of Fine Arts and French Immersion in Vermilion Parish, was beaming with pride.
“These kindergarten students have been in school for barely eleven weeks and you have just witnessed their level of comprehension and language production. Imagine what they will be able to do by the end of the school year!” said DeHart.

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