We started the day with our “New Student Welcome Ceremony,” in which we introduced our more than 20 new students. The PA committee prepared small gifts for each new student. Welcome to OCG !
The undōkai itself featured a donut-eating relay race, tama-ire, a three legged race, tug-of-war, and of course the final relay race. The students were divided into four teams, each of which included younger and older students. It was great to see the team spirit that developed in each group. The parents and teachers also got into the act, participating in the donut-eating race and the tug-of-war.
This year OCG decided to celebrate our very successful Food Fair by catering the after-event food. We thank our friends from Orange Heart for supplying most of the food – delicious! OCG really does have a lot to celebrate!
Once again, the entire OCG family chipped in to make this year’s event a huge success. In fact, it was our most successful Food Fair ever!! Not only did we sell out all of our 25,000 (!) beef teriyaki sticks, we also set new records for both sales and profits (by a wide margin).
The spirit and unity of the school was on full display during the event, as nearly all of our families and Board, and every one of our teachers came out to help. It was also great to see so many of our students helping out – not only did this show their school spirit, but also helped to build camaraderie as well.
OCG thanks the entire school for their hard work. Great job, everyone!
* We once again thank our friends at JFC (Japan Food Corporation) for donating nearly all of the supplies we used to make our sauce. JFC's support is very much appreciated by us all. We also thank House Foods for donating the curry we used to make our curry rice.*
• August 20, 2011: Summer Festival
• July 16, 2011: OCG’s New School Year begins !
Our Opening Ceremony featured a welcome speech by Marina, one of our JHL students, as well as remarks by Senior Instructor Kishimizu sensei, PA President Joel Minamide Board Chair Bob Uriu. The ceremony was followed by a "Back To School" Orientation session, in which all parents were invited to meet with their new teachers to hear about the summer program and classroom expectations.
One of the themes this summer will be comparing Japanese and American schools. The program will culminate with a Summer Festival to be held on August 20th. The teachers and PA are busy coordinating our second annual festival.
We look forward to a great school year!
• June 18, 2011: Graduation and End-of-Year Party
We then celebrated the end of the school year with a very well-attended beach party. We thank the Parents Association for organizing this, and all of the parents for the great turnout (well over 100 people attended!). Nothing shows the incredibly positive spirit of the school than the smiling faces of students and parents at the party. A great sendoff to a very successful year.
OCG held perhaps its most important General Meeting in its history in early June. Not only was it our first as an independent school, we also approved a major revision of OCG’s by-laws. The key change was to expand the Board to include formal representatives of parents and teachers, and to provide for more accountability by having Board members elected and subject to recall.
We also approved next year’s Board of Trustees. Takako Scott, Bill Tajima, and Alice Tsuji were all approved for two-year terms, while Shoko Araki, Kazuo Tsuji, and Bob Uriu will serve one-year terms. The latter three positions will be up for election in June 2012. The expanded Board now also includes our Senior Instructor Kishimizu sensei and Assistant Senior Instructor Foutch sensei, interim PA President Joel Minamide, plus one other (voting) PA officer.
At the General Meeting we honored our Senior Instructor, Hiromi Kishimizu, who completed her fifteenth year as a teacher at OCG. Over the years she has demonstrated incredible devotion to the school and to teaching our children.
OCG also thanked our two outgoing Board Members, Michiko Fukumoto and Setsuko Takeuchi. Both have supported OCG for many years, and will remain involved in helping the school going forward. We honor their service.
We have all watched the unfolding disaster in Japan with a sense of sorrow and sadness. In response, our OCG parents and Student Association (seitokai) have tried to do what we can to raise funds for disaster relief. Since March OCG has held a fund-collection drive, multiple bake sales, and many other efforts. We also supported our friends at Orange Heart and numerous other fundraising events put on by individual parents.
All of the money we raised was sent directly to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles, which in turn gave it to the Japanese Red Cross. 100% of the donations OCG collected went to disaster relief.
We show our solidarity with Japan and the Japanese people. We very much admire the way in which the people there have reacted with calm, dignity, and stoicism in the face of such incredible suffering. We hope that even our small contribution will help them in their difficult task of recovery.
Bob Uriu, Board Chair
OCG congratulates all of our students for the great job they did at our annual Speech Contest, or Ohanashi-kai. This annual event gives our students the chance to express their opinions in Japanese, showcase their language skills, and learn the art of public speaking.
This year we decided to have all of our students participate. On March 19th the elementary school students gave their speeches, followed a week later by the middle school, high school, and Japanese 1 and 2 students. Students wrote and presented their own speeches to their fellow students, teachers, family and friends. Trophies were awarded to the top speakers.
We at OCG have made a strong commitment to giving our teachers constant training. In late July most of our teachers attended a three-day workshop at Cal State Long Beach. OCG was a co-sponsor of this workshop. We thank the Japan Foundation for its generous support.
Last March 6, OCG was honored to host a workshop covering assessment methods for multi-level classes. We had approximately 20 teachers, including all of our own. We again thank the Japan Foundation for its very generous support.
On February 19 we did not hold classes so that all of our teachers could attend a day-long teacher training workshop sponsored by the California Association of Japanese Language Schools (CAJLS). The workshop covered teaching multi-level classes.
All of these workshops were conducted by our advisors, Professors Kataoka, Douglas, and Chinen. At the workshops the attendees felt that they had learned a lot and received useful training. This underscores how incredibly fortunate OCG is to have these invaluable advisors, who are at our school every week, offering advice and critiques to our teachers. It is as if we have a year-long, ongoing teacher training workshop, right here at OCG !
On March 5th, OCG students learned about Hinamatsuri or Girls Day, a Japanese tradition. In Japan, the actual day of the event is on March 3rd. Families celebrate Girls Day with doll displays and special foods for this occasion.
OCG held its annual New Year’s event, mochitsuki, or rice pounding ceremony. Students took turns using the wooden mallet (kine) to pound the steamed sweet rice in the traditional stone mortar (usu). Everyone had a chance to participate, and then enjoyed the fruits of their labor – mochi covered with sweet rice flour, wrapped in nori, or dipped in soy sauce. As we now do with all of our cultural events, the teachers used the occasion to base some language lessons on mochitsuki-related themes. The older class, as one example, compared regional differences in the mocha soup (ozoni) that is served.
Our annual Gakushū Happyōkai (Holiday Academic Performance) was a great success. Students from each class demonstrated the language skills they learned in class this semester through various forms of presentations, including some innovative skits and songs. The students and teachers worked very hard creating and preparing their presentations. Well done!
The theater was jammed with parents, relatives, and friends, and all seemed to have a good time. Board advisor Toshiyuki Tajima called this the most enjoyable Gakushū Happyōkai in memory.
On October 30th our students participated in a unique learning experience, the okashi-yashiki. (This is a pun on the Japanese word for “haunted house,” obake-yashiki.)
Half of our students formed into teams and were given the task of selling a certain amount of candy. These teams, which included children of different ages and levels, worked together to set prices and figure out how to market their products. All of this was of course conducted in Japanese. On the day of the event the other half of our students came to buy and bargain with the selling teams (again, all in Japanese). Students had a lot of fun, and learned at the same time.
The okashi-yashiki event represents one facet of the Long Beach approach, which stresses hands-on and interactive learning experiences. It is our conviction that students remember more when their language learning is based on concrete and enjoyable activities..
On October 24, 2010, OCG held a celebration to mark our 35th anniversary as well as our first year as an independent school. The gala was held at the Wyndham Hotel in Costa Mesa.
We were especially honored to have Consul Makoto Hirose from the Consulate General in attendance.
Consul Hirose honored us with a congratulatory toast, followed by speeches from Chair Uriu, Kishimizu sensei, Kataoka sensei and President Minamide. In addition, words of appreciation were presented by students Rie Sugiura and Chelsea Strong, and a recent OCG graduate, Lisa Foutch. Entertainment included a slide show, students singing Japanese songs, a Japanese Celebration Dance performed by Bando Hiroharumi (Donna Minamide), and the "OCG Rap" performed by the Steering Committee (written by Joel Minamide).
On October 9 we held a ceremony to welcome our many new students and families, followed by our annual undōkai. Students had a great deal of fun competing in relay races, tama-iri, a tug-of-war, and other fun events. Parents and teachers were involved, too!
Afterwards, all enjoyed a lavish pot luck party, featuring plenty of wonderful food and drink. All seemed to have a great time!
Despite scorching heat at the OC Japan Fair, OCG accomplished its main goal of publicizing our school. Many of the 15,000 attendees stopped by to talk about the school, and many picked up our new flyer.
Although our beef teriyaki sales were not as high as we had hoped, we were still able to turn a small profit. We thank the Food Fair organizers for working overtime on this, and all of the volunteers who went out in that beastly heat!
Parents Orientation was held during 3rd and 4th period in all of the classes. Parents were able to observe the class and later listened to the instructors explain the outline of the curriculum and class goals. During the orientation, a mock Earthquake and Fire Drill exercise was held, allowing all to practice exactly what to do in case of a real emergency. OCG cares about our students saftety.
OCG is excited to start the new fall term. There have been a lot of changes since last year. We have a much improved curriculum, with brand new textbooks written for OCG by our Long Beach advisors. We have a handful of new faces among the teachers, all of whom are being trained and guided by our new advisors.
Thanks to the incredible efforts of our parents, teachers, students, and alumnae, we smashed our old profit record this year. We set sales records for each of the three days. We sold out Sunday afternoon. We even ordered an extra 1,300 sticks, and sold out of those, too!
We consider it a good omen that our first Food Fair as an independent school was our best so far!!
The PA thanks everyone for their incredible level of effort, and in particular the Food Fair Committee led by Jeff and Mari Paxton, Gibo-san, and many others. We know that everyone contributed what they could.
This was really a team effort, all on behalf of our school. Thank you !
OCG was a co-sponsor of the 5th Kevin Cook Spirit Run, a 5K event that raises funds for college scholarships and grants for school sports teams. A record 650 participants of all ages joined in the 5K run! Many stopped by at our information booth to watch the OCG slide presentation. We thank Shoko Araki for being there at the booth all day.
• August 28, 2010: Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival)
OCG's first summer festival was a great one. The festival started with each class giving a short presentation on what they have been studying this month. Students then enjoyed a small taste of a summer festival, including food (takoyaki and yakisoba), games (suika wari), and crafts (kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique, and uchiwa making).
As always, the PA thanks the many parents who worked so hard on this event, and for making the "OCG experience" such a valuable one.
Also, a special thanks to Shoko Araki for arranging for a local TV program to tape the event (link above). Pretty cool !
On July 31 we had a very successful Tanabata Festival celebration. Over the past three weeks the teachers used the study of Tanabata to teach vocabulary, kanji, and sentence patterns. On Saturday the students were able to have a hands-on experience, including talking about their Tanabata “wishes,” and then enjoying “nagashi somen,” making “teru teru bozu” and origami. Click here for photo page.
Thanks go to the PA Steering Committee, and in particular Mari and Jeff Paxton for creating the impressive "nagashi somen" apparatus. But we know that everyone chipped in. Thanks!
• July 17, 2010: Opening Day 2010: We had a very successful Opening Day. The turnout among students and parents was excellent, despite many being away for summer vacation. OCG is very happy that the vast majority of our families have stuck with us as we transition to an independent school.
We welcomed our new students in a short Matriculation Ceremony[click here for photos (Events page)]
• July 15, 2010: OCG joins CAJLS. CAJLS, the California Association of Japanese Language Schools is the main organization representing Saturday-only Japanese language schools located in California. It promotes the teaching of Japanese language and culture. Becoming a member of CAJLS is the first step in establishing OCG’s standing as an independent school.
• July 15, 2010: OCG renews its language accreditation status with Huntington Beach School District. This is great news! We had worried that our going independent would result in our students no longer receiving foreign language credit from their local high schools.