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Students' trip to Orlando has a French twist

(ran PAS edition)

Catherine Phair, 13, has been dreaming of boat rides on the Seine, stopping off at Paris' Hard Rock Cafe, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.

This weekend, she and seven classmates from Pine View Middle School are participating in "Le Congres," a state French competition in Orlando.

"If I'm going to go to Paris, I might as well know how to talk," Phair said. "It's really hard work, and I like that. French is an obstacle."

This is the first year the middle school has joined Land O'Lakes High School students in the competition, said French teacher Sharyn Brookins, who competed when she was a student at Plant High School.

Phair wrote the play that Brandy Manning and her classmates will perform. It's a medley of French wolf fairy tales.

Jeremy Barbar will speak extemporaneously, Farid Karimi will take French dictation, Lisa Jones will identify French vocabulary, Gibson Thorn will do French comprehension, and another pupil will recite the poem Le Corbeau et le Renard, (The fox and the crow) by famed French author Jean de la Fontaine.

"It's giving them a chance to utilize what they know. They don't get to very often," Brookins said.

The competition's theme is centered on the festival at Avignon. Sarah Donahue will present the dodecahedron the class made, which depicts flowers, artists, the bridge of Avignon, a castle, a monastery and a birthday cake commemorating the festival's 50th anniversary.

The class sold jewelry and Christmas ornaments to raise money for the $30 per person entry fee and for two nights at the Omni Rosen Hotel in Orlando. They won't visit Walt Disney World, but they will go to the Winter Park Art Festival and a mall, Brookins said.

"We're pumped to go and listen to everybody and try to translate," Phair said.

She hopes they'll understand it all.