Students from the fall 1949 class at Long Beach Japanese Language School. Do you know someone in the picture? If so, contact Jay Shaheen at (562) 427-0794.

LONG BEACH — On Sunday, Sept. 28, the Long Beach Japanese Language School will celebrate 65 years of serving the community.

It has been providing students — K-6 since 1949, junior high since 1978, and high school and adults since 1994 — with Japanese language and culture instruction.

LBJLS was established with the Harbor-area youth of Japanese descent as its primary target population. But, reflecting drastic social changes that have occurred in the Japanese American population everywhere over the years, the LBJLS students today are more varied linguistically, culturally and in age groups.

To serve such a diverse student population effectively, LBJLS has maintained a dual curriculum orientation in recent years. Students are assigned to classes that focus on learning Japanese either as a heritage language or a foreign language, depending on their linguistic and family backgrounds.

Proficiency in language skills is developed gradually over a long period of time. Therefore, to continue the development of their abilities, it is highly desirable that students remain exposed to Japanese as much as possible — preferably facilitated by exposure to a structured learning situation. To encourage the students to remain involved in the language study process, continued support from both school and family is very important. To that end, LBJLS is trying very hard to make the learning of Japanese as much fun and rewarding as possible.

Additionally, in cooperation with the Long Beach Unified School District, LBJLS enrolls students from local high schools in a special summer program. The presence of these high school students and children enrolled in the Summer Japanese Culture/Language Program for Kids creates a unique opportunity for all LBJLS students to acquire cross-cultural communication skills.

The celebration luncheon will occur at The Centre at Sycamore Plaza in Lakewood. There will be recognition of key individuals, entertainment, and prizes. Mistress of ceremonies will be Chris Aihara, former executive director of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and an alumna of LBJLS. Highlighting the entertainment will be Erika Mariko Olsen, TV host, entertainer, singer and 2011 Nisei Week Queen.

For information, contact Nancy Kobata at (562) 425-9537 or or Jay Shaheen at (562) 427-0794 or

Current and former LBJLS students will celebrate the school’s anniversary on Sept. 28.

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