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Alumni Voices

Alumni Spotlight

We are so incredibly proud of our alumni! To learn more about their journey after the FAA and to celebrate them, we are introducing a new “Alumni Spotlight, featuring a notable alum each month.

Daria Mehrnia
Class of 2020

“I believe my ability to speak French is a secret weapon. I have been able to take my studies and opportunities to the next level, setting myself apart from the rest, greatly thanks to my bilingualism.” 

Attended FA: Pre-K2 to 8th Grade.

Current School: Vanderbilt University – Fall 2024.

Zoe Zwecher
Class of 2020

“At the FAA, we learned using the French and American school curriculums, and I feel that it definitely gave me a better understanding of the world as a whole and enriched my education, always giving me two perspectives on grammar, math, history, or any other subject. “

Attended FA: Pre-K2 to 8th Grade.

Current School: Ohio State University – Fall 2024.

Julian Pilet
Class of 2019

Julian

“I have so many other fond memories at the FAA, but they wouldn’t have been possible without the teachers that made them happen. I had a number of outstanding teachers during my time at the FAA.”

Attended FA: Kindergarten to 8th Grade.

Current School: Muhlenberg College, PA.

Alumni Reunion

Our next Alumni Reunion will be taking place on June 6th, 2024. 

This reunion is a special occasion for us to welcome back our alumni and celebrate their achievements while giving them a chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. It is also a moment of passage as our graduating class prepares for the next chapter of their lives.

During the afternoon, alumni will have the chance to walk down memory lane and catch up with their classmates, sharing stories of their time here and seeing how far everyone has come. Our alumni are invited to share their experiences and insights with the current graduating class and provide them with valuable guidance and advice. We have also planned fun activities throughout the occasion to ensure everyone has a great time.

We can’t wait to see you on Alumni Reunion and celebrate your accomplishments!

Prepared to be successful in school and life

Our students grow into brave and confident students that are not only prepared for high school and college but also for the challenges they may face at age 25, 45, 85, and beyond. We are confident that our graduates will be ready for anything the world throws at them and they will be prepared to create the world.

An FAA Graduate...

  • Is a lifelong learner who can handle new challenges collaboratively and with confidence.
  • Is equipped with a strong academic foundation and leadership skills.
  • Becomes  an active participant in the local community and expands their vision to the global stage.
  • Is a role model who inspires and has a positive influence on their peers.
  • Benefits from multilingualism and has a global outlook to better prepare for future success and the rapidly globalized world.

Portrait of Success

We empower our students in a transformative, multi-cultural, nurturing, and positive environment to become:

Critical Thinkers

Students are critical thinkers. They are: analytical, able to construct and debate a point of view problem-solvers and are able to navigate ethical dilemmas.

Embody Character

Students exhibit a growth mindset, a strong work ethic, grit, perseverance, resilience, and exercise independent thinking, compassion and empathy.

Global Citizens

Students grow in an international and diverse environment and become considerate, empathetic, listen, and give back. Think and act on global issues and the environment.

Clear Communicators

Students communicate confidently and purposefully in both French and English, demonstrating proficiency both orally and in writing.

Innovatively Creative

Students use the dual lenses of French and English as well as the French and American cultures to solve problems in innovative ways.

Collaborative Leaders

Students show teamwork and listening skills by taking into account each other's ideas, adapting to new points of view, effectively managing compromises, and taking ownership.

Success After FAA

““Be thankful for the hard times for they have made you.”
Sophomore, High School
Maya
““Be thankful for the hard times for they have made you.”
Sophomore, High School
Maya
““Be thankful for the hard times for they have made you.”
Sophomore, High School
Maya

What do we expect students to know?

We expect our students to meet or exceed the expectations of the French Ministry of Education Program and the U.S. Common Core State Standards.

In Language Arts, we expect our students to possess the skills and knowledge to speak, read, and write in French and in English fluently, demonstrating the quality of education they have acquired. Students will have studied a variety of authors of French and English literature and will be able to discuss and analyze their work with concrete comprehension. 

We expect our students to read, analyze and produce multiple genres of writing using the writing process – including short stories, mystery, memoir, poetry, realistic fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction, plays and graphic novels. Students will read and analyze short stories and be able to identify different literary devices such as conflict, foreshadowing, irony, point of view, imagery, simile/metaphor, personification and more. Students will be able to prepare for and participate meaningfully in book clubs. They will learn to think critically and discuss the larger themes, messages, characters’ choices, the author’s writing style and more. 

We expect our students to read, write, and research given topics, making oral and written reports as well as presenting research projects. Students will study the genre of playwriting. They will write, produce and act in their own original plays.

In Mathematics, we expect our students to reason abstractly and solve real world problems by applying their critical thinking skills. Graduates will acquire both conceptual understandings and procedural fluency. They will formulate and reason about expressions and equations and grasp the concept of a function and use functions to describe quantitative relationships.  Moreover, in geometry they will represent real world situations and solve problems both in the metric and US customary systems. They will know how to analyze and display data using an adaptive graph representation and draw conclusions based on their work. They will be able to model their thinking and use appropriate tools strategically. Most importantly, we expect our graduating students to think deeply about problems, develop conjectures, and be able to prove and defend them within a community of young mathematicians.

In Science, we expect our students to use the scientific method to explore and research topics within the branches of Life, Physical and Earth Science. They strive to analyze data and information and draw and communicate conclusions.  We encourage them to work cooperatively on STEM projects to build and create models and/or real life devices such as catapults, lighting systems and musical instruments, to enhance their learning of scientific concepts. 

We expect them to keep up to date with current science news, research and discoveries. Thanks to our recycling programs, we expect our students to share their awareness of the environment and conservatio

In Social Studies, we expect our students to be knowledgeable in French and English civilizations, in world geography, U.S history, government, current events, and ancient and modern civilizations. Through the bilingual curriculum, they will be able to make cultural and historical connections between continents. We expect our students to analyze multiple sources and documents for credibility, extract the most important information, think critically and respond to the issues. Students will research different sides of a topic to form arguments and participate in debates. Students will research different historical topics and produce news reports and live interviews. They will learn the process of live radio and record, produce and mix everything themselves. Graduating students will understand the cause and effect relationship in historical events. They will learn the research paper writing process from start to finish and be able to cite sources. They will research and produce writing pieces and projects on historical topics.

In Art and Music, we expect our students to possess knowledge about many artists and their work, and to be able to compare differences and similarities. We encourage self-expression and expect our students to perform and exhibit their artistic skills in a variety of presentations.

We expect our students to master simple sentences of a 3rd language, namely Spanish, so they can read and write them. The students will be able to hold a basic conversation about topics that are familiar or of personal interest.

Portrait of an FAA Teacher

Delivering on Our Mission and Portrait Promises

FAA teachers are:

Educational Experts

maintaining high standards of research-based training in a variety of specific instructional approaches.

Student-Centered

Dedicating themselves to understanding students’ unique learning profiles in order to meet their academic, social, and emotional needs.

Uncommonly Compassionate

providing a positive, caring, and patient learning environment that enables students to thrive.

Intentionally Collaborative

working together across grade levels to provide
continuity and consistency as a student progresses
within the Swift program.

Partners With Parents

building trust with families through honest and ongoing communication focused on optimal learning outcomes for their children.

Frequently Asked Questions

We provide support to our students in selecting and applying to high schools that best fit their academic goals and personal interests. We have a strong track record of placing graduates in selective high schools preparing them for success in higher education and beyond.

To learn more about our high school placement and the notable schools our graduates have been accepted into, please visit our High School Placement page.

Accreditations

Alumni Spotlight

“I believe my ability to speak French is a secret weapon. I have been able to take my studies and opportunities to the next level, setting myself apart from the rest, greatly thanks to my bilingualism.”

Daria Mehrnia

Class of 2020

Tell me about your background, interests, educational journey thus far.

I attended FAA my entire childhood, from Preschool up until 8th grade. It was the only school I knew, and my second home. The summer after 8th grade, I moved to NYC and began attending the United Nations International School, where I’ve been a student for all 4 years of high school. Now, I am days away from graduation, and am awaiting to start my academic journey at Vanderbilt University in the fall. I will be majoring in Political Science and Economics, but I know I will play around with my college courses to see which I choose to pursue seriously. Economics has been my main academic interest throughout high school, as well as Global Politics. I’ve been a part of many clubs regarding political issues and reform throughout the past 4 years, my main focus being an organization unique to my school, named “UNIS-UN”, where we organize a yearly conference in the UN General Assembly Hall centered around a global issue and invite over 300 international visiting school students. We curate the conference using guest speakers, debates, and much more. UNIS-UN has been my main focus club-wise, as I grew to be head of the Logistical Committee, and have poured countless hours into it. I am also a student-athlete and have run Cross-Country, indoor Track and Field, as well as outdoor Track and Field for the past three years. Being a part of a sports team truly taught me amazing lessons, whether it be in leadership or time management, as well as helped me clear my mind and not solely focus on school. Other hobbies of mine include cooking, fashion, and exercising, as well as spending lots of quality time with my friends and family.

You’re trilingual, speaking English, Farsi, and French. Can you talk about your experiences being raised with three languages? 

Honestly, I have been speaking Farsi, English, and French for so long, I often forget which one is my true native language. I would argue English is my native language (but my parents would angrily disagree). I am the sole fluent French speaker in my immediate family, which has been challenging and interesting, but I have grown to love it and believe it greatly adds to who I am. Being raised trilingual was often confusing–I have been known to mix all three languages in one sentence–but as I grew older, I grew to love my secret talent. My parents would often take me to visit my family in France, as a way to allow me to speak to native speakers and build my knowledge not only in the French language but the culture as well. I consider Nice, France to be one of my homes, and the city will always have a very special place in my heart, as will the entire French culture.

How have speaking French and being connected to “le monde francophone” affected you?

I believe my ability to speak French is a secret weapon. I have been able to take my studies and opportunities to the next level, setting myself apart from the rest, greatly thanks to my bilingualism. I attended a two-week long course at SciencesPo Paris the summer before my junior year of high school, where I stayed with host families in Paris and took online college-level courses, in both French and English. Not only did I learn immense amounts of information from these courses, but I also set myself apart from my peers, who had all never experienced an international education. Especially considering I am looking to enter the world of politics, speaking multiple languages is a gateway to so many more opportunities. I have been able to make new connections, discover new issues and topics, and be able to explore ideas I would have never known of without being francophone. Being connected to “le monde francophone” has made me a unique student and person, and set me apart from the rest of my peers. I know that my skill is something I will carry along with me as I enter higher education, as well as when I enter the workforce, as it will never stop being important and helpful to my development.

Have you got any specific memories or anecdotes that you treasure from your time at the FAA? Are there any teachers that stand out in your memory? 

I truly cherish every moment I spent at the FAA. Some of my most formative memories were made in both the New Milford and Jersey City campuses, and I know I will carry them with me for the rest of my life, whether it be sneaking away to Radia’s office to gossip, or dancing with Mme. Venturelli, we truly did it all. Every teacher at the FAA truly left an impact on me, but I must say, Mrs. Karam, Mme. Venturelli, Cathy, and Mr. Tourais are the main ones I still think about daily. They all truly taught me foundational tools and lessons that have guided me through every step of high school, and I know I will now take them with me throughout college. I truly thank them every day for how much they have helped me grow and evolve, not only as a student but as a human being. And, of course, Anne-Sophie Gueguen, who is the one who created this amazing experience for me and all my fellow FAA peers, the one who allowed us to flourish and learn so much over our time at the school, and the one I give all credit to for the student I have become today.

Alumni Spotlight

“At the FAA, we learned using the French and American school curriculums, and I feel that it definitely gave me a better understanding of the world as a whole and enriched my education, always giving me two perspectives on grammar, math, history, or any other subject. “

Zoe Zwecher

Class of 2020

Zoe Zwecher is a testament to the power of immersion language education. While her family is not French or francophone, she grew up with the French American Academy from Pre-K2 to eighth grade. She’s now preparing to continue her French studies at the Ohio State University. It was interesting to hear what she had to say about being raised within our bilingual education system. 

Tell me about your background and educational journey thus far. 

I went to the FAA from preschool to 8th grade. It was the only school I had been to until high school. Now, I go to Northern Valley Demarest High School. I was never interested in sports, so I didn’t participate in any sports in high school or middle school. During my childhood summers until 5th grade, I attended the FAA summer camp with all my friends. I’m going to OSU as a French major, but I haven’t decided yet what I want to do after college.

What was it like to be educated in a francophone environment, coming from a non-French-speaking family?

I am the only person in my family who speaks French. When I was younger, my parents would tell people that I spoke French, and I would get so embarrassed! I didn’t want to let anyone hear me speak French. But now, as I get older, I realize it’s cool that I am the only person in my family who speaks it. I am so glad I had a bilingual upbringing. never knew what a monolingual upbringing was like until I went to high school. I used to speak English at home and mostly French at school, but now I speak only English at school, which was a pretty weird adjustment.

Did you find that growing up with a bilingual education affected your worldview, your development, or your life in any particular ways?

At the FAA, we learned using the French and American school curriculums, and I feel that it definitely gave me a better understanding of the world as a whole and enriched my education, always giving me two perspectives on grammar, math, history, or any other subject. I currently have friends who never learned geography and other subjects/information that I did in school because their school did not use the French curriculum.

Have you got any specific memories or anecdotes that you treasure from your time at the FAA? Are there any teachers that stand out in your memory?

All my memories at the FAA are really fun and I genuinely never had a bad experience that I could think of. One of my favorite memories was in 7th grade when we went on a field trip to Connecticut and Rhode Island for five days. At the time, we all thought it was so random going there but we had a great time! Every day we laughed so much with each other and even with the teachers. So many memories were made there. 

Another fun memory was in 8th grade before COVID happened, it was in French class with Levie, Daria, Chantal, and me. Mme Venturelli was teaching a lesson and looked at the 4 of us dozing off. When she looked at us she said even she was bored teaching this stuff today, so for the rest of the period, we played music and danced in the class. I liked most of my teachers at the FAA, but the ones I connected with the most were the ones I had in middle school. Teachers such as Mrs. Karam, Mme Venturelli, Mr. Tourais, Cathy, and Ms Meena knew me so well and were like family to me.

Zoe’s answers were edited lightly for clarity. Photos courtesy of Zoe Zwecher. 

Alumni Spotlight

Julian Pilet

“I have so many other fond memories at the FAA, but they wouldn’t have been possible without the teachers that made them happen. I had a number of outstanding teachers during my time at the FAA.”

Julian Pilet

Class of 2019

Julian Pilet graduated from the French American Academy 8th grade in 2019. He is now a freshman at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. 

Tell me about your “bilingual journey” – that is, when and why were you enrolled in the French American Academy, and why did your family choose a bilingual education for you? 

“My bilingual journey started the moment I was born; having a French dad, I was immediately assimilated into French culture as I frequently visited my family in France before I even started learning the language. That’s the main reason I was enrolled in the French American Academy when I was five years old: to be able to speak French with my family in France so I could grow closer to them. My family chose an early bilingual education for me also because I would basically be learning French and English simultaneously without being more proficient in one or the other, which, overtime, would help my brain development.”

Sometimes bilingualism benefits us in unforeseen ways … you never know when knowing multiple languages will open the world up unexpectedly. How have you benefited from your bilingual education? 

“Being educated in a bilingual environment has benefited me in so many ways. Firstly, it helped me grow simultaneously in American and French culture, which led me to have different interests in both. For example, French culture made me love soccer, and as a result, most of my idols as I was growing up playing soccer were French soccer players and players in Europe that I was introduced to by watching the French national team games and exploring soccer in different European countries. Secondly, my bilingual education helped me understand the relationship between the United States and France, such as in wars, how both languages sometimes intertwine, and how France and the United States affect each other societally. Thirdly, learning French and English helped me to proudly establish myself as a French and American citizen, in which I could speak both languages, have an understanding of both cultures, and delve deeper into my European roots. Finally, my bilingual education encouraged me to learn more languages. I feel like already being bilingual makes learning a third language much easier. Since entering middle school, I have studied Spanish (starting at the FAA), and I have recently been starting to learn Italian and Latin on my own. I have also continued to speak and study French in high school and college, and I plan to minor in French, which makes me incredibly happy as it will help me greatly in my future career.”

Tell me about your interests and academic pursuits. 

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed an array of interests: I love singing, playing music, playing open-world video games, playing soccer, helping the environment, as well as a few more. I developed all of these interests at the FAA, as I participated in a band in middle school where we practiced and performed, played video games with my friends almost every night, gained my love for soccer as I played on the school soccer team, and the importance of the environment was emphasized there, too, which gave me a sense of duty to protect it. In college, I’m looking to pursue a major in Environmental Science, Biology, or possibly even Botany. I remember being drawn to these fields ever since I started playing Minecraft. I always loved exploring the different biomes and was fascinated by how much different everything in one biome was from the other biomes. I’ve also been surrounded by nature my entire life: when I went to school at the FAA in Bergen County, occasionally, towards the end of the school year when summer was starting, I used to explore the woods behind the school with my friends. This was a core memory of my time there as the woods were filled with thick vegetation which made them feel endless, and I would explore them for hours. I also have a beautiful garden in my backyard, as well as plants inside and outside of my house, which I’ve sometimes helped maintain.”

 

Can you think of any fond memories, anecdotes, or unforgetable teachers from during your time at the FAA? 

“I have plenty of fond memories from during my time at the FAA. One of them was performing 7 Years by Lukas Graham at the winter concert with the band. It was a surreal experience as it was my first time being the lead singer for a song in general. That whole concert was a fond memory, actually. Two other fond memories were performing the seventh-grade play as we spent the whole school year planning it out and we performed it amazingly, and making the eighth-grade short film, in which I played the protagonist and had so much fun recording it.

“I also loved going on overnight trips; my favorite one was going to Arizona for a few days as I’d never been to the west of the U.S., and I got to see the Grand Canyon and the openness of the Mojave Desert.

“I have so many other fond memories at the FAA, but they wouldn’t have been possible without the teachers that made them happen. I had a number of outstanding teachers during my time at the FAA, and one of them was M. Brasseur. M. Brasseur was one of my favorite teachers as he helped me pursue my interests in music: he helped me learn the guitar, he formed the band, he taught me about music history, and he brought me and my classmates on extremely fun trips every so often. He truly made my experience at the FAA so much better than it already was. Another outstanding teacher I had was Mme. Venturelli, who helped me continue my education in French and also helped the class write the seventh-grade play and the eighth-grade short film. She also brought out the creativity in me which gave me a lot of confidence going into tough situations. The last of many unforgettable teachers was Richard, or M. Guyot. Richard was my gym teacher as well as my soccer coach for four years. Richard helped me develop my skills as a goalkeeper and created an unbreakable team bond. He made me love the beautiful game and I will always be grateful to him for that.”

 

The interview was edited lightly for clarity. All photos courtesy of Julian Pilet.

 

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