Draper students roll out red carpet for French Ambassador to the U.S.

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DRAPER, Utah -- French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud paid a special visit to an elementary school in Draper. While his mission was strictly non-political, he touched on some of the recent tragedies in the United States and abroad.

Students at Oak Hollow Elementary in Draper were nervous about their visit from the French Ambassador. The school was selected because of its exemplary reputation for its French-English Dual Language Immersion program.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud was head of the class Thursday. Students entertained their important guest and grilled the dignitary with questions.

“I found out that he came once here, this is his second time coming here and he has a pet dog,” said Calypso Levitre, an Oak Hollow student.

The Ambassador was very impressed with their mastery of the French language and culture.

“I have seen some children who have been studying French for two months and they're already able to answer basic questions,” Araud said.

Oak Hollow is one of six schools in the Canyons District that offers a French-English Dual Language Immersion Program for grades first through fifth. There’s a waiting list to get into the program.

“The benefits go beyond just academic learning, socially, emotionally, it really enhances a student's learning,” said Julie Mootz, Principal of Oak Hollow Elementary.

“They are so cute, so full of energy. They give us sort of new hope in human kind,” Araud said.

A brief stop in a classroom is a welcome break for the Ambassador. His homeland of Paris is still reeling from the November 13th terror attacks that claimed the lives of 130 people.

“Unfortunately, in our long, long, history we have known a lot of tragedies; and, every time, I think we have overcome, so I think we'll do it again,” Araud said.

Araud is hopeful the community of San Bernardino can find strength in the midst of a horrific act calculated by a couple who shot 14 people to death inside a county building during a holiday event.

“It's very important that the community is trying to heal, that the people take care of everybody. Very often you underestimate the psychological injuries that people have suffered,” Araud said.

After spending the day with elementary students in Draper, the ambassador will also speak with students at Brigham Young University about foreign policy.