Beginning at age 11-12, when they enter the class of sixième, and throughout their secondary studies until age 17-18, the life of a French student is entirely focused on passing the baccalauréat exam.
For more than two centuries, baccalauréat—from the Latin „laurel crown”—has been both a ritual of passage and the indispensable key to higher education.
The long road to the „bac,” however, ends in a rather lackluster fashion: anxious students wait for their name to appear on a list (either on the Internet or posted at the entrance of their lycée) and either rejoice or lament … and that’s the end of it. No graduation ceremony, no caps and gowns, no party—just names on a list.
However this year, one school in France decided that the passing of the bac deserved something better than the usual impersonal notification. The International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in Manosque, attended by some 500 „ITER children,” had good reason to celebrate in style: 27 seniors, among them the first students in France to sit for the European bac, and all of them passed.
Parents and friends who attended the ceremony on Saturday 6 July were witness to a very unusual event in France: young bacheliers wearing anglo-saxon style gowns and tossing their cap into the air amidst cheers and applause.
„We wanted to celebrate all of our graduates and have a formal moment together before they all head off in a different direction,” explains international school Director Bernard Fronsacq.
The young graduates, he adds, „now have a very strong academic base. But in organizing this event, they have also acquired something that is very important for their future: they have learned to work as a team. We are all very, very happy.”