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Francophone students rock the radio

Everyday, most Canadians spend hours consuming a mind-numbing array of media. However, most have no idea what it takes to assemble a broadcast or edit a film.

Everyday, most Canadians spend hours consuming a mind-numbing array of media.

However, most have no idea what it takes to assemble a broadcast or edit a film.

The Grade 7/8 students at l’Academie Parhelie proved last week that not only do they know how to do these things, they can do it well.

A video put together by the class was named one of the five finalists in Silence! on chant, a national contest for French language music and videos.

The contest is organized by the Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America.

The online multimedia resource has been running since 2008 and attempts to present the rich and varied heritage of francophone communities living throughout the continent.

And when it comes to rich francophone culture, the Yukon is in no short supply.

The student’s video promotes its radio program, Radio Academie Parhelie, and begins with a claymation sequence where the program’s initials, RAP, slide, crawl and roll into and out of the scene.

The students then introduce the radio program, talk about its history and interview some of the people who are involved in running the program.

The radio program began in 1994/95 when the school was still located in Riverdale.

The school had an outdoor skating rink and some of the students requested the school install a sound system so they could listen to music while skating and playing hockey.

This turned into an educational program that has continued and grown to this day.

Although it isn’t running this month, the radio program usually airs everyday at lunch when two students cram themselves into a tiny radio booth for about 20 minutes.

The students are introduced to all aspects of radio, from playing music and introducing songs to creating vox pops and jingles.

A big part of the program is to promote French culture, so the students are encouraged to play French or world music, as long as it’s not in English.

“Outside of the school, these students live in a total English culture,” said Anie Desautels, one of the class’s teachers.

“They have very little access to French culture.”

Desautels is very passionate about the program.

The students are less enthusiastic.

“When something is mandatory, it’s not as cool,” Desautels explained.

Most of the students do not have aspirations to work in broadcasting later on in life.

Initially, many don’t feel comfortable talking into a microphone.

“It is good practice,” said Camille Saunders, a student in the class.

“And its fun to choose your own music.”

The kids play local French artists like Soir de Semaine and Quebec artists like Marie-Mai.

Celine Dion is also played, but a particularly long set of her ballads picked by one of the students caused teachers to gently discourage airing the chanteuse.

The radio programs often have different themes with the students sometimes researching the artists they play and reading their biographies on air.

Other weeks the students create newscasts and read local news.

The school even received a visit from Radio Canada’s Stephane Cote, who imparted some of his broadcast knowledge to the students.

Radio and film is just part of the multimedia education the students receive at L’Academie Parhelie, Desautels explained.

“All the students have their own computers and we do a lot of presentations,” she said.

“The students learn to use PowerPoint, GarageBand, and iMovie as well.”

The next program that the students will be working on is making a claymation film.

The school program is project-based experiential learning with subject integration focusing on the French language and culture, and technology.

That doesn’t mean the students get to do away with popular subjects like math, said Desautels.

“We just do much less than what a regular class might do.”

All 20 of the Grade 7/8 students participated in making the film, with some recording the music, some filming and interviewing, some editing and others starring in it.

Unfortunately, only two students get to go on the trip to Quebec in mid-May as part of the prize.

These two will likely be decided by drawing names from a hat.

Contact Chris Oke at