Plant french students place second at the Congress of French Culture in Florida


Luka Vaicekauskas

Smiling with the badges and the trophies, the Plant French students pose for the camera. On March 10-12 students from all around Florida gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando for the competition, including Plant High School. Along Mme. Macy and Mme. Coffey, the two French teachers at Plant, brough their students of all four levels of the language to apply it beyond school walls.

Le Congrès de la Culture Française en Florid, or more widely known as the State of Florida French Competition is celebrating 70 years of the annual French state contest. On March 10-12 students from all around Florida gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando for the competition, including Plant High School. Along Mme. Macy and Mme. Coffey, the two French teachers at Plant, brought their students of all four levels of the language to apply it beyond school walls, and winning second place.

The Congress of French Culture in Florida was established to attract the interest of students from Florida for language, literature and French civilization. During the Congress held in the spring of each year, participants take part in various competitions such as dictation, reading, play, skit, and French trivia. The students have the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and also to meet other enthusiastic Francophiles who inspire one another. As a matter of fact, Florida is the only state with such competition dedicated to French students in the country.

“Freshman year I went to Congrès because Madame Coffey pushed me to do it, and surely, it looks good on college applications. But this year it was because the competition itself is really fun and I like to challenge my acting and see if I can perform in French like I can in English,” junior Hannah Woodside said.

The theme for the 2022 contest was La Négritude, in honor of the Black History Month. This year there was an option for two separate competitions- online and in person. And each school may bring an unlimited number of competitors to participate in the following competitive categories:

  • Pièce de Théâtre (a theater piece in French) 
  • Saynète (a skit dedicated for French 1) 
  • Project (two or three-dimensional displays such as maps, paintings, models, costumes, ceramics, carvings, etc. surrounding the designated theme) 
  • Album (a scrapbook is a student-produced compilation of photographs, drawings and narratives depicting the school’s French Club and/or French class activities during the past year.) 
  • Discours-Causerie (Discours is a timed impromptu speech in front of the judges. Causerie is a timed conversation with the judges about a random subject.) 
  • Declamation (a recitation of a poem in French) 
  • Lecture (a multiple-choice reading comprehension test which may or may not adhere to the Congrès theme. The student will be asked to choose the most appropriate answers to questions based on the reading selection.) 
  • Casse-tête (A fast-paced question and answer elimination game played in 5 rounds between two high school teams- just like trivia) 
  • Chance aux Chansons (amusical performance done in front of the judges- a song or instrumental piece.) 
  • Program and T-shirt design (student design submissions for the program cover and the T-shirt)

This year, the Plant French teachers, alongside 18 students left Thursday after 3rd period and made their way up to Orlando to the CCFF. A scene of La Malade Imaginaire was performed by Hannah Woodside, Fletcher Heuchan, Emily Perry, Addison Gear, Sophia Gray, and Luka Vaicekauskas. Chip Roth, Graham Gataky, and Fletcher Heuchan made it to the near-semi-finals of the French Trivia, and overall H.B. Plant came in second place at the Congrès de la Culture Française en Florid. All in all, poems recited by Carly Toscano, Sam Thomas and others, free-speeches given, as by Trey Korwitz, who won superior on the topic assigned, and all of the projects presented, showed how arduous work paid off and how rewarding learning a foreign language is.   

“Considering the fact that a lot of the kids didn’t get the full benefits though COVID year; online, and back and forth in and out of quarantine, I was more impressed than I thought with how well everybody performed. The kids that went this year were outstanding, and it was good as any other year, and I didn’t see a lack. I think participation is going to grow again next year, and while this year out team has done better than we have ever done, I cannot wait for next year,” Madame Coffey said.

In recent years also, Florida State University has offered the Winthrop King scholarship of $500 to a senior participating in the Impromptu Speech (Discours/Causerie) competition. By all accounts, the Congress of French Culture in Florida is a unique and challenging phenomenon whose effects do little to dissipate as the days and weeks follow it. The friendships that are formed, the ideas that are forged and especially the interests of students and teachers to share the French language and Francophone culture make it an extraordinary success. 

“Students should participate in the Congress because of the community. Students from all over the state that are interested in French and the culture join and share the interests together. The idea that the students are all driven by the same motivate, just like a club or a hobby, and join from all around Florida gives an energy, and surely it is exciting and lots of fun,” Madame Macy said.

A la année procaine! 


Here are the awards: 

Eli Brito: grand prize poem, French 1 

Carly Toscano- French 4 poem superior, 

Trey Horwitz- grand prize — conversation, french 2, 

Haley Ruttle, french 1 speaking, superior 

Luka Vaicekauskaite, French 3, reading, superior 

Chip Roth, ap, free speak, excellent, 

Camen Fitts, Reading, level 3, bon, 

Chip Roth, Graham Gataky, Fletcher Heuchen, Final 4, jeopardy style knowledge, 

Samantha Thomas, French 3 poem, bon 

Theatre production- Hannah Woodside, Addison Gear, Fletcher Heuchen, Emily Perry, Luka Vaicekauskaite, Sophia Gray, excellent 

William Mathangani, reading, bon, 

Nick and frank Lyons: project, excellent, 

Nick Lyons, French 1 reading, excellent, 

Frank Lyons, French 1, reading, bon 

Skit Frenc 1, excellent, Haley Ruttle, Eli Brito and Lara Gormly 

Rose Asbaugh, song, excellent (online) 


Levels: Grand Prix du jury (judges grand prize) 

Superior 1st place 

Excellence 2nd place 

Bon 3rd place