Secondary school: September 1999 to June 2003, then the Lycée from September 2003 to June 2006¶
At the age of 11 Marie began her secondary school years, choosing by herself the fairly prestigious bilingual English-German course. She very rapidly expressed a preference for English.
During her 4 years at secondary school the little girl became a teenager, still an excellent student in all her subjects without any discipline problems in or out of school, but with quite an independent personality.
Obviously her personality developed as with all adolescents by challenging her family and friends, always asserting her opinions and ideas with her characteristic maturity. At the age of 14 she had a reaction that is quite frequent with adolescents: she decided to go on a diet by not eating at lunch-times at the school canteen.
However, she rapidly became aware of the seriousness of her behaviour and confided in her mother: the problem was nipped in the bud and was resolved without any problems or side-effects.
In order to assert themselves, most adolescents get up to some kind of character-building mischief, whether they admit it or not, and Marie was no exception : she was not a saint and had her fair share of youthfulness, little lies, secrets and troubles… like everyone else.
However she did have certain privileges that her sister and brother may not have had : more freedom in her education with fewer restrictions, a greater possibility to express herself personally and a large amount of trust granted by her family.
The Lycée, which comprises the last three years of the secondary cycle leading to the Baccalauréat and university entrance, was located a few kilometers from home: so she started there at the age of 15, having chosen the courses that she wanted to study. At the end of secondary school she had a wide range of choice as she had excellent grades in all her subjects (except sport) affording her access to anything she desired.
She chose the scientific route, but continued to shine in all her literary and linguistic subjects.
She completed her Baccalauréat with DISTINCTION and an average grade of 17/20, which only a few achieve.
Then she came to choosing her route in higher education and she was confronted with a real problem. As parents we did not want to interfere in her choice as with our two older children as this is a personal choice and a commitment which concerns the children and parents should not project their personal ideals or frustrations onto what constitutes their child’s future.
Marie-Pierre was particularly indecisive and, pushed by her teachers who had their eyes set on the prestigious engineering colleges for her, she decided to enrol in the higher maths preparatory classes in Bordeaux … but it was not the right choice …
Various important factors in her life or in her character were without a shadow of a doubt at the origin of the process which led her to everything that she had undertaken before she died.
1 – Her attraction to the English language :
Her love of the English language started at secondary school; she was soon able to master it despite the shortfalls of the French education system when it comes to teaching foreign languages. She had two trips to Great Britain, one school trip in Year 8, aged 12 with her school friends. That short glimpse of life there enchanted her at the time; she took photos, wrote a detailed and illustrated account and wrote “it was great this trip to England”. She returned later on a language study tour and stayed with an English family.
And then the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings era began and she read these adventures in English, which we found very impressive at the time, given the density of these novels. Then later, around 2006 she took out a subscription to Time magazine. She undertook all this off her own back and her skills and excellent memory enabled her to acquire new vocabulary and grammar with ease.
2- Her capacity to get involved and to enjoy new contacts
What also characterised Marie-Pierre was her sociability, her capacity to make contacts, friends and relationships; at a very young age she liked going out, having fun, having lots of friends, we sometimes had to say no or limit this desire for freedom, but there were never any real conflicts as she was already mature enough to understand the need to be reasonable. We were certainly quite permissive and tolerant, but she did not abuse this and we knew most of her friends, even if, we all have particularly at that age, our “secret gardens”.
Over the years, despite the big age difference, she started to join in with meals and events that Kristel and Michael organised with their friends and work mates and she was not slow to join in the discussions and voice her opinion…
She was very noticeable at these get-togethers, meals, parties and discussions by her characteristic, contagious, and sometimes too resounding laugh. Her laugh was like her trademark as nobody else in the family has one quite like hers.
3 – Her awareness of cycling
As we have already said, she was not a sporty person and she did not use her bicycle as a sports accessory, but as a means of transport. see stuff of her cycling aged 16 in year 2004
4 – Her convictions and political ideas
Marie became aware at a very early stage of the political, social and economical stakes that control the world and our country.
Within the family context we have passed on our values, such as respect for others and tolerance, refusing exclusion and racism. Her mother voting on the left (more social) and her father to the right (more liberal), she soon took a stance. In the presidential elections in 2002 she was only 14 years old and was too young to vote, but she got involved and was in the voting booth with her mother to whisper the name of the best candidate in her view. As soon as she was 18 she registered on the electoral lists to be able to vote in person.
At home clashes between father and daughter on socio-political issues were fairly frequent and gave rise to some serious discussions. Her first act of rebellion, with demonstrations and strikes at school, took place when the government proposed a system of short and fixed-term contracts for young people starting employment. The French youth rebelled and Marie was one of the lead militants at her school, although not of the whole movement. The government proposal was abandoned at that point due to this movement of discontent and the victory was much appreciated.