By: Francis Guese
Spring Valley High School held the 16th Annual Japanese Speech Contest in Las Vegas on March 7th. Students from many different schools in the Valley gave speeches completely in Japanese. The contest had multiple levels sectioned off between middle school, high school, and college segments, ending in a heritage section.
Japanese people who owned or managed various businesses in the city acted as judges for the event. Publisher of the Las Vegas Japan Times, Okabe Mitsufumi, appeared among the judges.
Consul General of Japan in San Francisco, Toru Maeda, could not come, but instead offered words of encouragement.
“I am pleased to find that so many young people are studying Japanese in this region,” Maeda remarked in a statement addressed to the participants and organizers. “It is indeed gratifying to learn that as more and more young people are now studying the language, I feel confident that the ties between Japan and Nevada will grow even stronger in the years to come.”
Southern Nevada Japanese Teacher’s Association president, Takako Hasegawa, gave the opening remarks. The Spring Valley High School Principal, Tam Larnerd, and Honorary Consul General of Japan in Nevada, Kathleen Blakely, along with other members gave their greetings.
Organizers presented the winners with certificates commemorating their participation. Coronado High School student, Danielle Lopez, earned the most points for her speech titled, “Appreciation for my Dad,” and received a trophy along with her certificate.
This event not only strengthened Japanese presence in the valley but allowed those outside the culture to experience it for themselves. The programs handed out had lists of Japanese owned businesses such as restaurants and Grand Canyon tour agencies. The audience also received copies of the Las Vegas Japan Times along with flyers for future cultural events and travel booklets for those looking to experience more.
Spring Valley High School prides itself on being the “only high school in Nevada to offer Japanese, Korean, and Chinese/Mandarin as foreign language options for its students,” according to a statement by Principal Larnerd.
In order to begin organizing the Japanese speech contests the Southern Nevada Japanese Teacher’s Association was started 16 years ago . Spring Valley High School and local Japanese businesses in the city supported and sponsored the contest.
The illustration on the program, done by Esther Hong of Palo Verde High School, won the contest to have their submission featured.