Louisiana native Zachary Richard, a renowned singer and cultural activist, was promoted today to the rank of Officer in the French Academic Palms. Consul General of France in Louisiana Vincent Sciama bestowed this prestigious distinction upon Richard during a ceremony at Myrtle Place Elementary in Lafayette. The French Academic Palms recognizes those who have rendered eminent service to French education and have contributed actively to the prestige of French culture. Promotion in the Order of the French Academic Palms (l’Ordre des Palmes académiques) acknowledges their merits, talents, and exemplary activities.
“Zachary Richard is a true Louisiana ambassador for his work in promoting the state’s French culture and heritage around the world,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Zachary has done so much through his music, poetry, and artistry to preserve this unique culture and important part of Louisiana. He truly represents the best of the people of Louisiana, their strength and vitality. It’s great to know he is being honored in such a way for his crucial role in promoting his heritage.”
“This prestigious French award recognizes Zachary Richard's unwavering commitment to French immersion schools and his leading role in promoting the French and Creole language in Louisiana,” said Vincent Sciama, Consul General of France in Louisiana. “By focusing on the future, thanks particularly to his music and his work with groups like the French-language children’s choir les Etoiles de l’immersion, Richard is showing us the way to an ambitious French-speaking community, focused on young people. We are very grateful to him for that.”
“I am very proud to receive les Palmes Académiques and I sincerely hope that this recognition will underscore the amazing opportunity that French immersion education represents for our young students,” said Zachary Richard. "My relationship with French literature began at the age of 14 in a French class at Cathedral High School. I am reaping the benefits of that class to this day and my career as a French language songwriter and poet would not have been possible without it. I greatly appreciate the importance of education in the creation of a desire for learning, a desire, which in my case, has never left me and that is one of the most cherished features of my life. No matter which learning path our young students follow, be it in the sciences or the arts or any other discipline, speaking a second, or several, languages can only serve to develop a profound interest in the world and a genuine enthusiasm to learn.”
In addition to his work as an artist and cultural ambassador, Richard has long supported French-language education throughout Louisiana. During today’s ceremony, he announced the launch of a crowdfunding effort in response to needs expressed by teachers of French immersion around the state. In collaboration with Action Cadienne, the Louisiana Consortium of Immersion Schools, Louisiane-Acadie, and the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL), the campaign will raise funds for the purchase of textbooks and teaching materials to be used in French immersion classrooms across the state.
“French immersion education in Louisiana is not only an amazing way to preserve and to promote the French Acadian heritage, but most importantly it is a fantastic educational tool. Please help us to acquire much needed textbooks and teaching aids to support French education in Louisiana. Merci beaucoup et lache pas la patate,” said Richard.