HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill West hosts inaugural Dejeuner en Violet

Cherry Hill West hosts inaugural Dejeuner en Violet

West’s 'lunch in purple' celebrates all things French

Students were involved in many aspects of Dejeuner en Violet, from assembling a playlist of French songs and developing menus to manning the crepe station. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

Cherry Hill West French students recently gathered outdoors for their first Dejeuner en Violet, a chance to practice speaking French, eating French and participating in games and other activities.

The event was organized by  West French teacher Ann Cottoni – who first got the idea about 10 years ago – in collaboration with another French teacher.

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Dejeuner en Violet translates to “lunch in purple” and was modeled after the popular Dîner en Blanc, or dinner in white.

“That event was actually started in 1988 by a Frenchman (Francois Pasquier) in Paris,” explained Cottoni. “He was meeting up with friends to have dinner outside in a park and he was worried about being able to see or recognize them, so he said, ‘Why don’t you wear all white?’ 

“And that has led to what is now literally a worldwide event.”

Cottoni noted traditions associated with the dinner, such as dressing in white.  While only some of those aspects could be incorporated, Dejeuner en Violet  brought together high-school French students of all levels, from one – the lowest – up to five.

“My idea was to have the students be able to use their speaking skills, which will help prepare them for their assessment, but also to develop a tighter sense of school spirit and community,” said Cottoni, who noted that all students were  required to wear purple rather than white for the Dejeuner en Violet.

“ … I want them to feel confident and comfortable with speaking the language with other students, not just in the classroom,” she added. “So this idea of you don’t have to be in these four walls with your French teacher to be able to communicate, I think for me, that’s really important.”

Students were involved in many aspects of the day, from assembling a playlist of trending French songs and developing menus to manning the crepe station. 

To highlight the importance of the language, the area near West’s  auditorium was lined with flags of French-speaking countries. Drinks included bissap, a concoction from West Africa made from a hibiscus flower; mint tea, the national drink of Morocco; and limonade, described as a carbonated, lemon soda.

“I really am trying to help people understand the importance of the French language and French culture, and to shine (a light) on places such as Africa,   because Africa has the most French speakers in the world,” Cottoni said. 

Level one French students praised the teacher for her high energy and positive attitude.

“I always get excited to come to her (Cottoni’s) class, because she’s always so energetic,” said junior Cora Gray.

“There’s never a dull day,” added freshman Ciara Peters. “(Ms. Cottoni) always makes it very easy to understand.”

Freshman Matt Loskowski had this to say: “If you’re coming to West, take French.”

Cottoni plans to hold another Dejeuner en Violet next year.


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