SIERRA MADRE — On Monday, Feb. 6, Alverno High School will welcome 80 visitors from the Uekusa Bunka Girls High School in Tokyo.

For the past nine years, the students at Uekusa Bunka have made the 5,000-mile visit to see Los Angeles and visit their sister school in Sierra Madre.

The morning will begin at 9 a.m. with a prayer service organized by Alverno’s Campus Ministry in remembrance of the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which claimed more than 15,000 lives and displaced more than 300,000 people in March 2011.

The prayer service will be a joint collaboration between Alverno’s Campus Ministry and the girls from Uekusa Bunka. During the prayer service, the entire community will be signing an Alverno flag that visitors from Uekusa Bunka will be able to take back with them to Japan and share with the rest of their school. Campus Ministry will also provide every student with a special prayer to commemorate the lives lost and inspire hope as Japan continues in a period of transition.

“It is our pleasure to share this experience with our visitors,” said Alverno Campus Minister Susana Capra. “It’s very important for our students to commemorate the lives lost. This prayer service not only reminds us of our deep friendship with our Japanese sisters but the importance of coming together in times of need. It is a blessing to share this prayer service with those so closely connected to the earthquake and tsunami. We are pleased to give them our continued support and are grateful for their ongoing friendship.”

Following the prayer service, the Japanese visitors will tour the Alverno campus, visiting classrooms, meeting new friends, and showing Alverno students different aspects of Japanese culture through calligraphy, origami, traditional archery and women’s martial arts. Additionally, each visitor will be paired with a member of the Alverno student body who will welcome her to campus and provide a small American gift.

“Alverno places an important emphasis on service and I am proud to see that our students have been affected by the devastation of the earthquake last year and are planning to honor the victims with our visitors,” said Head of School Ann Gillick. “Our friendship and relationship with the Uekusa Bunka Girls High School has been unwavering for nearly a decade and it will be a pleasure to welcome them back to our campus and continue to enjoy their friendship. I hope they will enjoy the time they spend with us and feel the support of the Alverno community as we approach the one-year anniversary of this tragedy.”

Alverno High School is a Catholic college preparatory school for young women dedicated to preparing them to function in a society as informed, knowledgeable persons who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. Enlivened by the spirit of its Immaculate Heart Community sponsors, and mindful of the Franciscan roots of its founders, Alverno’s program — academic, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and physical — is shaped by the staff, trustees, and students in light of the world for which the students are being educated. Alverno’s mission is to empower each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be and since 1960, Alverno has empowered more than 4,100 women to meet that goal. For more information, call (626) 355-3463 or visit

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