CALUMET CITY | If there is one thing that Pierre Gasnier would like to take back with him to his native France from his two weeks at Thornton Fractional North High School, it is the classroom demeanor.
Pierre, 17, said that his school in LeMans includes lots of note-taking while listening to teachers who lecture. He and his 15-year-old sister, Marie, were pleasantly surprised to see the give-and-take between teachers and students in a U.S. high school, and the freedom of movement during the school day.
“You do that in my school back in France, you get in trouble,” he said. “I’d like it if the schools back home were more like here” in the United States.
The Gasniers were students at T.F. North for two weeks — leaving on Saturday to return home to France. “They will be back in their regular school come Monday,” said Marie Perrot, a French teacher at T.F. North who met the pair’s grandparents when she first visited France as a college student in the early 1990s.
So when the Gasniers’ mother contacted Perrot to say her children wanted an “American experience,” Perrot arranged for the two to become students at T.F. North.
“Everyone here was very understanding,” she said, while adding that Pierre and Marie are regarded officially as ordinary students. “They have to swipe in (with their student ID cards) just like everybody else.”
Perrot included the Gasniers in her advanced French classes, although the two also were assigned to different students each day, accompanying them through that student’s class schedule to see what life is like for a U.S. high school student.
“They’re getting to sample so many different classes,” Perrot said of the pair.
Pierre said he appreciated the friendliness of students who led him around the building. “Everybody has been very understanding and helpful toward us,” he said.
The two are hoping their two weeks in Calumet City also will help them come July when they are scheduled to take examinations to show their proficiency in the English language.
Marie is preparing to enter the French equivalent of high school later this year, while Pierre plans to attend the ESG Management School in Paris to study business. He says one of the aspects attracting him to that school is the option to spend at least part of his college career at a university in the United States.
“I definitely want to come back to the United States,” Pierre said.
The Gasniers two weeks were not spent entirely in the halls of T.F. North. They were allowed to accompany the group of seniors who went on a class trip to Navy Pier in Chicago, had a chance to visit the Art Institute and also spent one day at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights to see the difference between public and private schools, Perrot said.
They also attended a baseball game Tuesday, watching as the Meteors were beaten 7-2 by Bremen High School. While Marie said she enjoyed the atmosphere of a ballgame being played, Pierre admitted some confusion about the national pastime.
“We don’t play baseball,” in France, he said. “We prefer the game you call soccer.”