Livingston High School Students Recognized for Excellence in French Competition


LIVINGSTON, NJ — Ending the school year on a strong note in Livingston, 25 Livingston High School students were nationally recognized for excellent performances on the competitive Le Grand Concours (the National French Contest) exam for 2015. LHS French teachers Gerard Amsellem and Soukeyna Diop-Tall taught and coached the LHS students, who competed against more than 90,000 other students and attained prizes symbolizing their high marks.

Sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), the annual competition challenges students of French in all 50 states and abroad from grades one to six, who participate in the “FLES Contest,” and grades seven-12, who participate in the “Secondary Contest.” LHS students Justin Melnick, Shira Li, Sorasicha Nithikasem, Natalie Kahn, Laura Serban, Sharon Perlmutter, Raphael Miller, Jessica Rosenblum, Gabriela Ontaneda, Elodie Shevins, Weiying (Wendy) Lu, Jennifer Liao, Michelle Goltsman, Josephine Chian, Sarah Wang, Catherine Yu, Mary Yang, Annette Kim, Justin Wang, Patrick Yim, Eileen Dong, Yibin Long, Varun Maheshwari, Sabrina Ngan and Luke Spiegler all achieved national recognition for excellence on the written exam.

“Receiving recognition in the competition means a lot to me in that it is like the fruits of labor from what I learned this past year,” said ninth-grade Silver Medal Winner Catherine Yu. “Language isn’t one of my best subjects so earning this award showed me that I was able to succeed on this competitive exam.”

Sign Up for E-News

All students — private, public, home schooled and students of non-AATF members — are eligible for the annual exam. Students enter the National French Contest, or Le Grand Concours, via their French teacher, who applies for entry by contacting the local Chapter Contest Administrator. According to Yu, Amsellem and Diop-Tall ensured that each of their students was well prepared by teaching them through past copies of the contest made available through AATF. 

“Monsieur Amsellem has always been supportive and he spent class time on practicing for the exam so that we would do well,” said Yu. “I’m greatly appreciative to him for enriching my experience of the French language.”

Justin Melnick, an 11th-grader who completed a senior-level Advanced Proficiency French class this week, also wanted to thank the teachers who got him this far as he approaches his senior year at LHS, including former LHS French instructor Florence Jaouen-Steffener. Melnick received the Level 5 “Special Mention AP” prize in the competition, alongside his classmate Shira Li, and saw it as an affirmation that he is headed in the right direction for his future plans. 

“Mr. Gerard Amsellem, Ms. Florence Jaouen-Steffener and Ms. Soukeyna Diop-Tall have all helped me through my French studies,” said Melnick. “Earning such a prestigious place in this competition is important to me because I plan to go into international business or any real-world application in which I can use foreign languages.” 

Of the 90,913 Concours participants, 20,768 students were eligible for Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in 2015. LHS completed this year’s competition with one Gold Medal Winner, four Silver Medal Winners, six Bronze Medal Winners, five special mentions and seven “mention d’honneur” certificates.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Local Children Invited to Register for Essex County Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Children of all ages are invited to participate in spring and summer camp opportunities at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena and the Essex County Environmental Center.

The zoo has several weeklong camp adventures that will introduce children to the extraordinary world of animals, nature and science. Campers and their parents/guardians are ...

How Do I Decide Which College to Attend?

Now that college acceptances are rolling in, how do I decide which to attend?

Your hard work in high school has paid off. You took your SAT/ACT exams, got the best grades you could, and filled out as many applications as you needed to. Acceptance letters are starting to come in and you need to make a decision on where you will go in the fall. It's hard to decide!! Here are some tips and ...

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Others not to Suffer in Silence

February 8, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters is not told. For them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us.

That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street, which led to the eventual total collapse of ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, February 21, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning Presents ...


Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Free CASA Essex Volunteer Information Session

Giving Back Law & Justice


Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

Lobby - Office Building, Livingston

Gun Violence Prevention & Congressional Candidates


Livingston Public Library Prepares for NJ Makers Day

February 12, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Public Library will host its third annual Makers Day on Saturday, March 10. Last year, 350 people attended Livingston Library’s Makers Day and enjoyed a variety of interactive activities ranging from sewing and paper crafts to robotics and circuitry.

Makers Day is a statewide initiative designed to celebrate, promote and introduce ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  


The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

In the Driver's Seat

Honey, I am going to take the Roadster out for a quick spin around the sun. I’ll be back in a few million years.


That’s nice dear. While you are out, could you pick up a gallon of milk?


In what has to be the greatest road trip of all time and space, Elon Musk, the visionary inventor, engineer, and billionaire investor loaded his very own red Tesla ...