This post was written by Madame Newton and her talented students:
METAMORA, Michigan — This past summer, Madame Newton, LHS/Zemmer Middle School French teacher, was asked to translate for French artist Jean-Louis Sauvat during his stay in Michigan when he painted the horse murals at the White Horse Inn of Metamora. Knowing of his return to the U.S., she coordinated a French cultural “Read Like a Detective” lesson which culminated in students having the opportunity to meet and speak with Monsieur Sauvat at a private reception.
(See some of Sauvat’s work, here.)
As the lesson started, students were asked to look for details in a news text that would support/answer the question: How is it that Jean-Louis Sauvat, a famous French artist, came to paint a horse Masterpiece mural at the White Horse Inn restaurant in Metamora? This reading technique was chosen to help students gain specific reading skills helpful for ACT testing.
As a follow up, her French students were given the opportunity to meet and speak in French with Monsieur Sauvat at a private reception. Here is what happened:
As we sat around a table in the 1850’s part of the White Horse Inn, Brendan Hall asked, “when did you start painting?” Sauvat said, “I’ve painted ever since I was a young kid, so I went to an art school in Paris.” Then Kole Klebba, a Zemmer French student chimed in, “how do you get paid for your work?” “Through commissions from both government and private sources,” replied Sauvat. “For example, cities in France have an allocation in their budgets for beautifying a city, so my artwork can count toward that endeavor. Additionally, I get personal commissions. One that I’m proud of is the Horse Sculpture I made for a WWI horse burial ground to commemorate the more than 40,000 horses that were killed during the war.”
As the students introduced themselves in French and shared a few things about their interests and hobbies, they were served Nutella-filled crêpes and Crêpes Suzettes made by the White Horse Inn chef.
Afterwards, everyone walked to the Grand Salon to take pictures in front of Sauvat’s horse fresco. Merideth DeWitte asked him to sign an important hat of hers and was thrilled when Sauvat drew a horse on it. Lily Bourret liked that she actually got to meet someone from France.
Brendan Hall remarked: “It’s amazing how much I could understand … I didn’t have to know all the words, but by picking up words here and there, I could communicate and understand the gist of what was said.”
“Most importantly, through the warmth and kindness of Monsieur Sauvat, this experience left the students feeling more confident than ever that they could really succeed in communicating in French,” said Madame Newton.
A special thank you to Linda Egland and Victor Dzenowagis, the owners of the White Horse who made this opportunity possible.