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ROTARY CLUB NEWS: Local students immersed in French

February 23, 2018
By CARA ATKINSON - LPMHS French teacher , Lake Placid News

Camille Craig and Elise Pierson are two Lake Placid high school students that are determined to spark conversations and grow awareness about the importance of intercultural communication.

Camille, a senior, is focusing her senior project on the pursuit of French language fluency as well as raising awareness of the necessity of intercultural dialogue for a tolerant, peaceful community and society.

"I realized that we're not exposed to different cultures very often in a hands-on way, even though we are a tourist town," Camille said.

Article Photos

Lake Placid students Camille Craig and Elise Pierson
(Photo provided)

She attributes her experience with a handful of international students as a critical part of her personal growth and cultural sensitivity. One of her goals is bringing more of these types of experiences into the heart of the Adirondacks.

Elise Pierson, a sophomore has always loved French and has been aspiring to go abroad and live immersed in a new culture and language. When the two students realized they both had similar goals, they teamed up in finding support locally to help fulfill their common dream.

Elise explained her drive.

"I am extremely motivated to go and will return with a new perspective to share," she said. "I really want to get younger students interested in going to camps like these because I think it's important for them to see other parts of the word and utilize what they've learned in school."

The two students also want show other students that invaluable experiences like these are a real possibility to pursue while still in high school.

"It doesn't matter how many times a teacher tells us that school is preparing us for the real world, all we see is the next test," Elise said. "Both of us want to inspire students to learn for themselves, because in the end, learning comes down to how motivated the child is."

Camille and Elise are living with host families in Quebec City, a 100 percent francophone environment just four hours north of Lake Placid. The two even signed a French-only contract. They are attending a local school in the morning and their afternoons are filled with hands-on activities like dogsledding, skiing, and touring the frozen Montmorency Falls.

Part of their goal in this project is increasing the number of international students that attend Lake Placid high school. In identifying impediments to this pursuit, the two cited a lack of host families as the main obstacle in this quest. International students are available and even request to study in Lake Placid, but currently there is a lack in housing opportunities. Until being in a warm, welcoming host family herself, Camille said, "I didn't see how crucial host families are for students that want to learn and truly experience another culture."

The students' trips were funded by the Rotary Club of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid Educational Opportunity Fund and the students' families.

Upon their return, the two intend on sharing their experiences with their classmates and community. They also plan on helping to pursue willing host families in the region by hosting a Q&A session for prospective families that are considering welcoming an international student.

"We are very grateful for the community's support," Elise said.

Youth Leadership Academy

The Rotary Club of Lake Placid has committed to sponsor at least three local high school students to the RYLA Rotary Youth Leadership Academy 2018 on June 8-10. Students will have a three-day experience north of the border in Kingston Ontario. Interested families could contact the Rotary Club at


The Rotary Club of Lake Placid meets weekly on Thursdays at 7:20 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott. All are welcome. Contact the club at, via Facebook or



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