AATF Exemplary French Program with Honors

Kettering Fairmont High School, OH
AATF member: Mary Townsend


The Kettering Fairmont High School French Program has again received the designation EXEMPLARY WITH HONORS from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF).  There are only a handful of schools in the United States to hold this title.

The French program at FHS has enjoyed great growth and success in the past several years, increasing enrollment by a substantial 38 percent since 2014.  All students take the Grand Concours National French Test.  The program has recently begun to accept eighth graders, and offers a new Honors II and Honors III program as well as International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Honors IV and Credit Flex Honors V; the latter two courses offer college credit for advanced coursework.  Because of their strong background in French, many FHS graduates go on to major and minor in French studies at their chosen universities while others test out of their college language requirements completely.

Over 100 FHS students have participated in the French travel program in the past several years and we recently introduced the Sister City Program for home-stay summer exchange. These programs enhance and augment students’ French language skills, international-mindedness and global understanding that is promoted in the classroom. Other notable student accomplishments include participation in AATF National French Week and the National French essay contest, winners in the National French Poetry Contest and $1000 travel scholarship program. Each year about two dozen members are tapped for induction into the Société d’Honneur Français/ French National Honor Society. Throughout the school year, students enjoy immersion experiences and visits from French and Francophone visitors to the classroom.

Fairmont’s vibrant French Club has 100 members and holds many events of Francophone culture including visits to regional museums, our annual Cheese-Tastings and Mardi Gras celebrations. Students make traditional macarons and celebrate with fondue, crèpes, mousse and more. They maintain a plot  in the Peace Garden, growing Herbes de Provence.

A sporty addition to our activities includes playing the traditional Pétanque ballgame, sets purchased with monies received from a national grant.  They donated funds to Syrian Refugees and adopt children at Christmastime. Their successful French beret fundraiser raised monies to help underwrite testing and membership expenses.  The senior class humanitarian “Peace Bracelets” project raised $600 for the International Red Cross. This fall, a tree will be planted in memory of a fallen classmate. They hold an annual Cérémonie d’Honneur to honor their many Grand Concours national laureates, SHF inductees and recognize outstanding seniors and international students. Last year, over 250 people attended; this year, there were almost 500 students and parents in attendance. The program included induction of SHF members, talented student musicians, an entertaining interpretation of “Le Corbeau et Le Renard”, acknowledging our international Francophone students, and senior recognition, including presenting the AATF Outstanding Senior Award. Plans for the future include continued outreach to the school community of Francophone speakers.

The FHS French Department staff is comprised of teachers Mary Townsend and Michele McCarty. Mary recently held state office in AATF and was French Affiliate to the Ohio Foreign Language Association and is an ODE Master Teacher. Michele taught at a university before joining FHS faculty. They have both studied abroad and travel extensively.  Their partnership, passion for French and dedication to their students’ success has garnered national recognition for excellence in French at Fairmont High School.

For full information on applying for Exemplary Program status, click here.  

Created: May 29, 2017
Last Update: May 29, 2017