Noteworthy

Education & Our Heritage

Winter Storm to Again Postpone La Rencontre — New Date is Friday 3/14

Students from L'Ecole Francaise du Maine in Freeport practice balance and form ahead of their March 13 appearance at La Rencontre.

Students from L’Ecole Francaise du Maine in Freeport practice balance and form ahead of their March 14 appearance at La Rencontre, a day later than originally planned

For the second straight month, a big winter storm is set to coincide with the scheduled date for the Franco Center’s monthly French luncheon, known as La Rencontre. And for the second straight month, officials at the Franco Center have deferred to Month Nature and postponed the event.

However, unlike last month when the Franco Center postponed La Rencontre  for an entire week, this time the Franco Center is moving back the date by only one day. The luncheon is now set for this Friday, March 14 at 11:30 a.m.

The difference this time was the availability of the French Circus (Cie Tour de Cirque) and the students of the all-French elementary school in Freeport, L’École Française du Maine, who together will be providing the entertainment after the meal. The circus is run by a husband-and-wife team from France for whom a one-day postponement is not a problem, but who could not remain in Maine for an additional week.

The date change also necessitates a slight change in the menu, which was to have been lasagna with ground beef, a meal donated by DaVinci’s Eatery.  Catholics who observe lent make a vow to avoid meat on Fridays, and so the lasagna to be served at La Rencontre will now be a meatless variety with cheese only. The rest of the menu will remain unchanged – bread rolls, vegetables and cake.

Staff at the Franco Center, DaVinci’s and L’École Française du Maine conferred Monday morning to discuss the situation after the latest forecasts predicted that snow would still be falling Thursday morning from a storm that is set to begin dumping heavy snow on Maine late Wednesday.

The Franco Center regrets that anyone might be inconvenienced by the necessary schedule change, and kindly asks that everyone who has registered to let the Franco Center know by calling 783-1585 during business hours by 4 p.m. Wednesday whether they still plan to attend now that the date has been pushed back to Friday.

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Prof. Rhea Côté Robbins to speak at USM LAC on “Franco-American Gender Roles: Motherhood and More” on March 13, 1pm

Professor Rhea Côté Robbins will deliver a lecture on March 13th at USM LAC entitled "Franco-American Gender Roles: Motherhood and More"

Professor Rhea Côté Robbins will deliver a lecture on March 13th at USM LAC entitled “Franco-American Gender Roles: Motherhood and More”

The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be hosting a lecture by Prof. Rhea Côté Robbins on the topic “Franco-American Gender Roles: Motherhood and More” Thursday, March 13th at 1 p.m. at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.  Robbins is is a professor of Franco-American Studies at the University of Maine, and is the founder of the Franco-American Women’s Institute, an organization of women who gather together as a force for the specific purpose of promoting Franco-American, ethnic women’s voices in a variety of forms. Continue reading

French Circus, Lasagna and 80 Students on Tap for March 13 La Rencontre

Students from L'Ecole Francaise du Maine in Freeport practice balance and form ahead of their March 13 appearance at La Rencontre.

Students from L’Ecole Francaise du Maine in Freeport practice balance and form ahead of their March 13 appearance at La Rencontre.

The entire student body from L’École Française du Maine in Freeport is putting on a show in French for about 250 patrons of the Franco Center’s monthly French luncheon, known as “La Rencontre,” with the next one set for Thursday, March 13 at 11:30 a.m. This year the students are participating in a circus production from France known as Cie Tour du Cirque, a traveling husband-and-wife team who visit accredited French schools throughout America to teach students about the circus and to incorporate the children into the show itself. The children will sing, dance, juggle, do acrobatics and magic tricks in a show entitled “Derrière la Porte,” which translates as “Behind the Door.”

“In the francophone world the circus is a deep part of our culture, so it’s very culturally relevant to what we do here,” says Willy LeBihan, director of L’École Française du Maine, a K-6 elementary school and one of 40 French-language schools in the United States that enjoy full accreditation by the French national government.

The couple who created this circus, Farid Abed and Marion Achard, come from the Dijon region in the eastern part of France. They will be arriving in Maine on March 9th for the final stop of their current east coast tour and will spend four days at the school preparing the children for their roles. The circus has also appeared at schools in New Orleans, North Carolina, New York and Boston.

The student circus will immediately follow lunch, where patrons will be served lasagna with ground beef from DaVinci’s Eatery along with their signature “garlic knot” bread rolls, which is another annual tradition at the Franco Center. The cost to attend La Rencontre is $7, which includes both the meal and the entertainment. To make reservations, call the Franco Center at 783-1585 any weekday between noon and 4 p.m.  The deadline for reservations is 4 p.m. on Monday, March 10th.

In the past when La Rencontre was held on a Fridays, the lasagna was always meatless in observance of Catholic prohibitions on meat consumption on Fridays during lent. Now that La Rencontre has been moved to Thursdays, however, ground beef no longer poses a problem for observers of lent.

LeBihan says that one of the school’s faculty, Céline Fournier, has long had a fascination with the circus and has spent considerable time during the current school year sharing her knowledge with her students.

“On top of being a certified teacher, she is someone who has practiced acrobatics and studied contemporary dance, and she has been training the children in these disciplines,” LeBihan says of Fournier. “Our students are prepared and are thrilled to particpate.”

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In 9th year, F.A.B. Dance Showcase expands roster, stylistic reach (Mar. 1)

The F.A.B. Winter Dance Showcase draws ever-larger audiences every year. See why on Saturday, March 1st.

The F.A.B. Winter Dance Showcase draws ever-larger audiences every year. See why on Saturday, March 1st.

“This year’s lineup in the ninth annual ‘F.A.B.’ Winter Dance Showcase is a testament to the health and diversity of Maine’s contemporary dance community,” says Carol Dilley, an organizer of the event and director of the Bates College dance program.

“F.A.B.” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Franco Center, 46 Cedar St. in Lewiston. The event is produced in association with Bates by the Franco Center, formerly known as the Franco-American Heritage Center. (“F.A.B.” stands for Franco-American and Bates.) Continue reading

La Rencontre Postponed a Week Due to Coming Storm – New Date is Feb. 20

Adrien Leclair of Greene (left), Lorraine Ouellete of Lewiston and Gerry Dube of Sabbatus will sing songs in French at the next La Rejncontre on Thursday, Feb. 13th

Adrien Leclair of Greene (left), Lorraine Ouellete of Lewiston and Gerry Dube of Sabbatus will sing songs in French at the next La Rencontre on Thursday, Feb. 20th — one week later than originally scheduled.

The Franco Center has pre-emptively decided to postpone its monthly French luncheon, known as La Rencontre and originally scheduled for this Thursday, by one week due to a messy winter storm expected to hit the region this week.

The new date is Thursday, February 20th – a week later. A private event scheduled at the Franco Center on Friday precluded moving La Rencontre back by just one day, and so management decided to keep the event on a Thursday for the sake of continuity. Continue reading

Bowdoin Professor Christian Potholm to speak about Franco-Americans, Maine politics on Thurs., Feb. 27

Prof. Christian Potholm will speak on the topic of Franco-Americans and Maine politics, Thursday, Feb. 27th at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College.

Prof. Christian Potholm will speak on the topic of Franco-Americans and Maine politics, Thursday, Feb. 27th at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be hosting a lecture by Prof. Christian Potholm on the topic of Franco-Americans and Maine politics, Thursday February 27th at 3:30 pm at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

Potholm is DeSilva Alexander Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College.  He’ is also the founder of the Potholm Group, a political research and consulting firm.  Potholm was a consultant for the State Taskforce on Franco-Americans in 2012, and has been an expert observer of Maine’s politics for decades. His books on Maine politics include: This Splendid Game, The Delights of Democracy, An Insider’s Guide to Maine Politics and most recently, Maine: An Annotated Bibliography. All are available from Amazon.com

“This is an unprecedented year for Franco-Americans in terms of Maine’s political scene,” says Collection Coordinator James Myall.  “For the first time in Maine, and perhaps anywhere in the United States, there are two Franco-American candidates vying for the governorship.  We’re pleased to welcome Professor Potholm to share his insights on both the political history of Maine’s Franco-Americans and what the upcoming year has in store.”

The event is part of the Franco-American Collection’s Spring Lecture series, organized in partnership with USM LAC faculty and made possible by support from the University of Maine System’s Diversity Committee.  For more information on the other events in the series, please visit the Collection’s website, www.usm.maine.edu/franco.

The event is free and open to the public.  USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College is located at 51 Westminster Street in Lewiston.  For more information, call 207-753-6545 or email franco@usm.maine.edu

Monthly French Sing-Along at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College Friday, Jan. 17 at 1:30 pm

The sing-along session on Jan. 17th  will feature, among others, (top row, l-r) Jacynthe Jacques, Irene Mercier, Hélène Sylvain, (bottom row) Jeannette Gregoire and Irene Coady.

The sing-along session on Jan. 17th will feature, among others, (top row, l-r) Jacynthe Jacques, Irene Mercier, Hélène Sylvain, (bottom row) Jeannette Gregoire and Irene Coady.

The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be holding its monthly sing-along session at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College Friday, January 17 at 1:30 p.m.  The sessions consist of an hour of French and French-Canadian songs, led by a group of enthusiastic local volunteers. Song sheets are provided, so those whose French is less than fluent are welcome to attend. New participants are always welcome. Continue reading

Next session of French classes for adults, kids begins in November

Fun in French for kids 4 to 10 and French Re-acquisition classes for adults will begin again in November at the Franco Center.

Fun in French for kids 4 to 10 and French Re-acquisition classes for adults will begin again in November at the Franco Center.

The Franco Center has announced that the second session of French Re-acquisition classes for adults and Fun in French classes for children will begin in November. The classes for adults run for six (6) five (5) consecutive weeks, whereas the Saturday morning Fun in French classes for kids will be held for five (5) weeks over a six-week stretch with a weekend off in the middle due to the Thanksgiving weekend. Continue reading

Franco Center conducts tour of Little Canada for Seeds of Peace

Hanna Erez and Avi Zopory break out in a dance, influencing others to join in during a tour of the Franco American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Monday afternoon. The two are from the Ministry of Education in Israel, attending a unique camp at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Otisfield. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Hanna Erez and Avi Zopory break out in a dance, influencing others to join in during a tour of the Franco Center on July 29th. The two are from the Ministry of Education in Israel, attending a unique history course at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Otisfield. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

The Franco-American Heritage Center conducted a history tour on Monday, July 29th for 28 educators including teachers, school principals, and administrators from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, who are all in Maine to attend the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield.

The tour of the Franco Center and of the Little Canada neighborhood included some traditional Franco-American music and a snack of crepes topped with maple syrup from Quebec. The Franco Center provided a “meal-to-go” package for those in the group currently observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which calls for fasting during daylight hours.

Dr. Daniel Moses, Director of the Educator’s Program at Seeds of Peace, along with his Assistant Director, Deb Bicknell, run a professional development program called “Making History,” which uses Maine’s past to stimulate further discussion on various interpretations of history, the subjective nature of history, and the search for scientific facts in the historical process.

Dr. Julianna Acheson, the history tour’s organizer for Seeds of Peace, says the purpose of the program is to provide visiting teachers from countries with a history of ethnic strife with new tools for teaching students and to promote the critical thinking skills necessary to equip future leaders in their respective homelands.

“We’re visiting the Franco-American Heritage Center as part of our exploration of the history of Maine,” said Acheson. “We have also attended panel discussions with African-American and Native American leaders, toured the Maine State Museum in Augusta, and took a walking tour of Portland that included a visit to Longfellow’s home and museum.”

Acheson called the Franco Center last week to inquire about the possibility of a tour and a brief history of the building. Franco Center executive director Louis Morin agreed, and offered a more expansive tour of Little Canada along with a sampling of traditional Franco foods and music.

“This building is interesting by itself,” Morin said, referring to the Franco Center, which is located in the former St. Mary’s Church in the heart of Little Canada, “but to get a sense of what it meant to new arrivals from Quebec, you really need to see it in the context of the entire neighborhood.”

Franco Center patrons raise $575 for Lac-Mégantic Relief Fund

Lac-Mégantic is located just a few miles from the Maine border and is a "sister city" with the Town of Farmington.

Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, is located just a few miles from the Maine border and is a “sister city” with the Town of Farmington.

Patrons of the Franco-American Heritage Center’s monthly French language luncheon, known as La Rencontre, raised $575 on Friday, July 12, to donate to a relief fund to help the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, recover from the recent train derailment and fire that left 50 people dead or missing and devastated the town’s center.

After reading an editorial in the Sun Journal that morning about the relief fund set up by the Town of Farmington, which has been a “sister city” with Lac-Mégantic since 1991, Franco Center board of directors president Raymond Lagueux approached Louis Morin, the center’s executive director, as patrons were filing into La Rencontre and suggested taking up a collection.

Morin not only agreed, he committed the Franco Center’s proceeds from the 50-50 raffle from Friday’s La Rencontre, which added an additional $105 to the $470 raised during the collection that will be donated this week to the Lac-Mégantic relief fund.

“The majority of people who come to La Rencontre every month, myself included, still have relatives living in Quebec,” Morin says. “I commend Ray Lagueux for seizing the opportunity when the Franco Center was full to take up the collection. Most of the patrons at La Rencontre are elderly and on fixed incomes, which makes their generosity all the more touching.”

For others who wish to donate, the relief fund is established at TD Bank in Farmington. Donations can be delivered in person or mailed to either of the bank’s two Farmington branches, located at 163 Broadway or 670 Wilton Road (zip code 04938). “Lac-Mégantic” must be written somewhere on the check.

RELATED INFORMATION:

July 12, 2013 Sun Journal editorial about Lac-Mégantic relief fund

July 8, 2013 story in Sun Journal about fire crews from the Franklin County towns of Chesterville, Eustis, Farmington, New Vineyard, Phillips, Strong and Rangeley battling Lac-Mégantic blaze

Upcoming Performances

  • Apr
    26

    Comedy Series: R-rated Hypnotist Frank Santos Jr., Comedian Rob Steen

    Heritage Hall

    Apr 26 - Apr 26

    8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Santos at the Franco Center

    Comedian Rob Steen returns to the Franco Center and this time he's bringing R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. with him.

    Comedian Rob Steen (right) returns to the Franco Center and this time he’s bringing R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. with him.

    You will be amazed when you, your friends or complete strangers across the room become stars of the show as comic hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. makes them believe that they are singers, dancers and much, much more.  This is a performance where the audience becomes the show.  Frank’s performance has limitless variations and can please every appetite.  This is a hilarious, energetic and unique show that you will never forget – unless, course, Frank commands you while you’re under hypnosis to never remember!

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  • May
    10

    Midcoast Symphony Orchestra's 2013-14 Season Concert Finale

    Performance Hall

    May 10 - May 10

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Midcoast Symphony Orchestra at the Franco CenterMidcoast Symphony OrchestraFor over a decade, the Franco Center has been proud to serve as the second home of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra (MSO), and audiences in the Lewiston-Auburn area have been growing as word spreads of the MSO’s masterful performances in the acoustically magnificent Performance Hall. The MSO under the direction of Australian Maestro Rohan Smith returns one last time for this season for its season finale on Saturday, May 10, 2014. $20 per ticket, under 18 admitted free.

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  • May
    16

    Comedy Series: Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, Tammy Pooler

    Heritage Hall

    May 16 - May 16

    8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    Franco Center Comedy Series Finale

    It's the last comedy night of the season, but we promise that if you cry, they'll be tears of laughter. Come and laugh with Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, and Portland's Tammy Pooler on Friday, May 16th.

    It’s the last comedy night of the season, but we promise that if you cry, they’ll be tears of laughter. Come and laugh with Ira Proctor, Will Noonan, and Portland’s Tammy Pooler on Friday, May 16th.

    The last of this season’s 5-show run of comedy nights, this is one finale that won’t be sad in any way. In fact, it promises to be downright hilarious with the return of Maine comedian Tammy Pooler along with Ira Proctor and Will Noonan. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door (18+ only).

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  • May
    17

    Maine Music Society presents "Blowin' in the Wind" (Saturday night show)

    Performance Hall

    May 17 - May 17

    7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

    Maine Music Society at the Franco Center

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60's and 70's on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60′s and 70′s on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    This spring the Androscoggin Chorale will sing many of your favorites from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The Chorale will perform arrangements of songs composed by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel, to name just a few. Songs in the program include “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Both Sides Now” and so many, many others that are sure to delight audiences young and not so young alike.

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  • May
    18

    Maine Music Society presents "Blowin' in the Wind" (Sunday show)

    Performance Hall

    May 18 - May 18

    3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

    Maine Music Society at the Franco Center

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60's and 70's on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    The Maine Music Society presents a veritable hit parade of songs from your favorite folk singers and groups of the 60′s and 70′s on Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 18th at 3:00 pm.

    This spring the Androscoggin Chorale will sing many of your favorites from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The Chorale will perform arrangements of songs composed by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel, to name just a few. Songs in the program include “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Both Sides Now” and so many, many others that are sure to delight audiences young and not so young alike.

    ... More