Michigan City High School students Lorenzo Panozzo and Alejandro Aguirre placed 2nd in the state at the Japanese Olympiad held on February 25 at Ball State University. This duo competed at Level 4, the division for students in their fourth year of Japanese.

“While Lorenzo competed last year, Alejandro made a brave rookie appearance at the Japanese Olympiad this year and scored well,” said MCHS Japanese teacher Mike Tsugawa. “They competed well and we are very proud of them.”

MCHS also competed at Levels 2 and 3 in the Japanese Olympiad. At Level 3, MCHS was represented by Hannah Parker, Aaverie Wingard, and Natalie White on one team, and Nathan Groszek, Zoe Brooks, and Vivian Taylor on another. Competing at Level 2 for MCAS were Jimmy Biela, Torey Morris, and Makenna Nowatzke. “Level 2 is the hardest level to break through since it has the biggest field,” Tsugawa said. “All of our students at Level 2 are sophomores, and they did great in their first competition.”

The Japanese Olympiad of Indiana is an annual day-long academic tournament for high school students of Japanese throughout Indiana. Nearly 100 students participated this year from ten high schools, including Lafayette Jefferson, Bloomington North, Chesterton, Fort Wayne Carroll, Highland, Wabash, Michigan City Columbus North, Muncie Central, and Penn. The Olympiad places students in a playoff against all other competing schools at the same level, with only three scoring teams advancing to the finals. It is judged by Japanese professors (who are all native speakers) from Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University – West Lafayette, DePauw, and Earlham College.

The experience also allowed students, as well as spectators, to learn more about Japanese culture through demonstrations of dance, calligraphy, origami, and kendama. Students also had an opportunity to try on a traditional yukata (cotton kimono) and enjoyed folk and festival dances performed by the Japan America Society of Indiana. A karate demonstration by a student in BSU’s Japanese program who went on to become world champion was a highlight of the event.

As the competitors met with other students of Japanese from around the state, they had the opportunity to gather information about Japanese studies at several Indiana colleges and universities.“They were greeted by the Ball State Japanese department head, who encouraged them to follow their interest in Japanese language and culture,” Tsugawa said. “I’m proud of all of our competitors and finalists, and want to encourage all Wolves – regardless of their sport or skill – to take pride in what they do.”

More information about Michigan City High School courses, including world language opportunities in Japanese, French, German, and Spanish, can be found at www.EducateMC.net/MCHS.