LTHS warmly welcomes international Japanese student

Photographer: Patricia Lee

Photographer: Patricia Lee

Written by Stephanie Wilk, Staff Writer

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While lockers are an everyday component of high school life for students, they are a source of excitement for a new face in Lockport. Ichika Okashiwa, an LTHS foreign exchange student, discloses that her friends in Japan are “jealous” of her; lockers are not commonplace back in Japan.

Ichika joins us from Iwate Prefecture, a region in the northeastern part of the nation of Japan. At her school of about 450 students, which is situated in a small town near the mountains, she takes seven English classes every week. In addition to studying the language for five years, she has participated in two English speech contests. During her time in Illinois, she hopes to improve her English, but particularly focus on her pronunciation and singing.

The presentation of American high schools in the media has influenced Ichika’s expectations of LTHS. In fact, she claims that her motivation to study English stemmed from her enjoyment of American music and movies. These expectations were not only limited to having her own locker, however. She was surprised by the organization of the American school day, considering that Japanese students in grades 11 and 12 would not follow such a schedule. Instead of periods and class changes, students in Japan remain in the same class with the same students for the duration of the school day.

Prom, choir classes, and choir concerts—they’re all events Ichika looks forward to in her future at Lockport. Her host sister, LTHS senior Grace Evans, will attend dances with Ichika on top of helping her in learning and improving her English.

Nonetheless, Ichika’s foremost aspiration while abroad is to find her passion for college and onward.

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LTHS warmly welcomes international Japanese student