Vocational high school students, future upholsterers, pastry chefs or costume designers, shine at the Villa Médicis

Eight of the students of the Ozanam high school in Châlons-en-Champagne pose in front of their work, at the Villa Medici, in Rome, on May 7, 2023.

One took out her great evening t-shirt, bearing the image of the Metallica group. The other, his most beautiful down jacket. The dozen students from the Frédéric-Ozanam vocational high school in Châlons-en-Champagne have enough to lose their way: in this somewhat unusual spring, they are exhibiting their “masterpiece” among the gilding of the Villa Medici, in Rome. The installation put together by the teenagers, who are studying the art of upholstering, caught the eye of the director of the Roman institution, Sam Stourdzé, and his guides, who awarded it their Coup de coeur prize.

The group is one of the 500 students from vocational and agricultural high schools hosted as part of Residence Pro, the second edition of which was held from May 8 to 11 and then from May 15 to 18, at the Villa Médicis. Whether they are destined to become upholsterers, pastry chefs, costume designers or beauticians, they all exhibited their work for four days, after a preparation that spanned almost a year. After 300 high school students from the wood sector in the New Aquitaine region in 2022, the workforce this time came from 24 establishments in the Grand-Est and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. A third and a fourth edition are already planned for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years. A sign of the success of the operation, they should bring together 1,200 vocational high school students each time.

“For us, it is perhaps a swan song – the most beautiful of swan songs”, says Cécile Bethleem, professor of applied arts and history of styles at Ozanam high school. Victims of stereotypes that stick to professional sectors, its classes are struggling to recruit. “Parents are reluctant to put their children in what they still consider to be a sidinglaments the teacher. But there are many opportunities! A spotlight like that of the Villa will perhaps save our section. »

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In an escalation of silks, trimmings, rods, the high school students of Ozanam transposed the Roman imagination to their future profession: making curtains, seats, lampshades and other decorations with care and fantasy. Their four scenographies are inspired by the Teatro 5 de Cinecittà, where Federico Fellini shot most of his films, the bucolic frescoes of the Villa Livia, Jewish artichokes – a jewel of Roman gastronomy – or Meta Sudans, the “oozing terminal”, as it was called in antiquity.

First stay in Italy

In fact, high school students and teachers sweated profusely, from registration for Residence Pro, in the spring of 2022, to the home stretch, a year later. It took them a while to take ownership of the projectconcedes Capucine Plos-Sourin, sewing and upholstery teacher. The changeover took place in the fall of 2022, when it was necessary to present their approach orally, in front of all the participants in the Grand-Est region, at the Center Pompidou-Metz. » Whether they are in 2ofin 1D or in terminal, the students abound. We prefer practice to theoryunderlines Malo. Over the year, we became familiar with new materials, such as moire, satin or nubuck, and new techniques, such as honeycomb. »

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