Last year Katoh Elementary School celebrated the 20th anniversary of its landmark immersion program through ceremonies, a play, and a gorgeous white tablecloth luncheon.
The play, Tiger of the Seas, was the first event and was performed by the White Horse Theatre group from the UK. The students laughed throughout the play as the silly characters ran through the audience and encouraged them to participate by using props, songs, and cheering.
A more formal ceremony took place at the end of November at the elementary school, marked by speeches from Dr. Katoh, Dr. Bostwick, and Vice Principal Satoh.
Dr. Bostwick explained to the children why the anniversary was important to the school and that 20 years ago many people did not think it was possible to teach children the Japanese national curriculum through the medium of English. People also thought children would lose their Japanese identity and first-language proficiency in Japanese. None of these fears came to pass and Dr. Bostwick told our students that their achievements have shown that 20 years later the school is strong, successful, and has set a new standard for education in Japan.
At the luncheon reception, former graduates and teachers joined current students and staff to enjoy lots of delicious food and the opportunity to reminisce. There was also a slide show of the history of the school and a video from a US television news magazine about a graduate who helped develop new technology at MIT to provide amputees with advanced prosthetics. The various events allowed everyone to see how much the school has accomplished after venturing into uncharted territory 20 years ago! — JANE WILKES