Japanese Immersion Graduation Marks End of 12-Year Experience

The Japanese Immersion program is kindergarten through twelfth grade program that  helps student become functionally proficient in speaking, reading and writing both English and Japanese.

It starts in kindergarten at  Sand Lake Elementary and continues through Mears Middle School and Dimond High School. Students who continue with the program in middle and high school earn an immersion program completion cord to wear at high school graduation.

A variety of 2019 graduating immersion class and reminisced about their times and experiences in the Japanese Immersion Program.

“My time in the Japanese program was so much fun, I made lifelong friends, and I understand a whole other language which is pretty cool,” Senior Emily Campbell said.

Senior Kaitlyn Otis said “My time in the Japanese immersion program was really frustrating at time but it always paid off in the best way possible. Learning Japanese and being in this program has given me some really awesome experiences. I got to go to Japan twice and now I get to visit and work there after I graduate.”

Next, students discussed their favorite memories from the Japanese Immersion program. When asked about her favorite memories Reilly Plumhoff said

“I loved all of it but what I think I’ll miss the most is all of the festivals and events we got to go to like, the Fall Family Dinner and the New Years festival, that really capture the Japanese culture in an authentic way. The cherry blossom festival will always be my favorite things especially since I get to go to them with the same people I’ve been going with since kindergarten.”

“My favorite memory was when we were in Japan and I was walking with two of my other friends on the trip and it was raining and we forgot umbrellas so we were drenched but we were eating this traditional red bean paste sweet bread. The Japanese Immersion program let me have those really cherished memories and I’m so grateful for that. Learning Japanese from such a young age made it so much easier to learn other languages when I went to Italy I realized it was so much easier to understand other languages. The program also made me so open to other cultures from such a young age,” Senior Channing Buckmaster said.

Junior Owen Kelly who’s currently in Honors Japanese, the class before AP Japanese, talked about his expectations for the next year and what challenges he’s expecting to face.

“I don’t think much will change, Ms. Imai is a really good teacher and the class is easy because even though the coursework might be harder Ms. Imai is a really good teacher to go to with questions. I am excited for my senior year, I expect to faces challenges like waking up to go to class. But, I’m mostly excited to start my last year of the immersion people with the people I started it with.”

When I asked about someone’s advice for incoming immersion freshman Senior Andrew Walsh said,

“The Japanese Immersion program is a thirteen year long dedication with many challenges that cause kids to quit the program, so my advice to someone who wants to continue the immersion program into high school are these two things. The first one is, always trust your immersion friends, they’ve been there for you since your first day of school. The second is don’t be afraid to ask questions. The teachers and interns are so nice and they want to make sure you succeed.”

The Japanese Immersion Program graduation is May 9, 2019 in the MPR at Dimond High School.