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French poem wins 5-year scholarship

Vanessa Pogue and Riley Donaldson were assigned the poems by Maple Ridge secondary French immersion teacher Nicole Beaudet. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Vanessa Pogue and Riley Donaldson were assigned the poems by Maple Ridge secondary French immersion teacher Nicole Beaudet.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

A Maple Ridge secondary student has won a five-year scholarship in a poetry contest.

French immersion teacher Nicole Beaudet said there are an increasing number of contests held by universities, which invite high school students to produce essays, poems and videos in French.

This year she assigned her class the task of entering a contest.

Not only did two of her young poets produce grade A work, they took first and second place in the Festival International de la Poésie poetry contest offered by l'Université du Quebec.

Grade 12 student Vanessa Pogue, who loves both reading and writing poetry, claimed first prize for her entry Jolie Robe Bleue (Pretty Blue Dress). She won five years tuition, which includes two years at College LaFlech in Trois-Riviéres, followed by three years tuition and at l'Université du Quebec a Trois-Riviéres.

She also won an invitation to the International Poetry Festival in Trois-Riviéres in October, an expenses-paid trip, where she will read her poem.

Beaudet is also a winner, as the university will cover her room, meals and poetry workshops to also attend the festival.

Riley Donaldson, also in Grade 12, won a three-week stay the International French School at the l'Université of Trois-Riviéres. The trip, valued at $1,200, includes courses, meals, a room and social and cultural activities.

Both students have been in French immersion since they were in kindergarten, with Pogue attending Riverside and Donaldson Laity View elementary.

Beaudet said studying in one's second language can be a challenge, and the students have worked hard.

"They deserve this. I'm excited for them," she said.

"See what you can do in a second language?" she told the students. "That's to be celebrated."

Picking a scholarship winner on the strength of a poem is unusual, and almost stereotypically French, she agreed, but adds that being able to produce a great work of poetry demonstrates a number of strengths.

"It shows creativity, that you can take risks, and obviously a high level of literacy," she said.

The contests are the result of the high value that the Quebec universities place on language, and the federal government's efforts to promote bilingualism.

Pogue would still have to be accepted to the university based on her GPA, but she has been at 90 per cent in most courses, so that will not be an issue.

She planned to attend Simon Fraser University to study behavioural neuroscience, but now she is looking at studying in Trois-Riviéres.

"It would be really interesting," she said. "I'm looking at the programs they have to offer."

Donaldson said he's looking forward to his three weeks in Quebec.

"That's probably enough for me. I've wanted to travel, and it's a good opportunity."

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