Two New Trier teams finish in second place at Illinois Japan Bowl 2020
Two teams representing New Trier High School's Japanese program won second-place finishes out of more than an estimated 85 teams from Chicagoland schools that participated at the Illinois Japan Bowl on February 22 at North Central College in Naperville. This success continues a tradition for New Trier's Japanese program; every year since the competition started in 2015, New Trier has fielded a team that placed in the top 3, including winning first place in 2015, 2016, and 2018.
At the Illinois Japan Bowl, over 250 second-year, third-year, and fourth-year high school Japanese students competed in academic competitions that tested mastery of Japanese language, culture, history, geography, arts, sports, current events, and pop culture. Among the high schools represented were Northside College Preparatory High School, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Evanston High School, Glenbrook South High School, Streamwood High School, Amundsen High School, Steinmetz College Prep High School, and University Laboratory High School. Each school was able to bring up to five teams of two or three students per level. Some schools brought 45-plus students compared to the 10 that participated for New Trier.
Although New Trier was outnumbered, they managed to still place second out of 25 teams in two different categories, Level 3 and Level 4. New Trier seniors Cate Chan, Donovan Greene, and Jonna Izenstark won second place in the Level 4 category, and juniors Jefferson Lin, Aidan Moore, and Justine Xie placed second in the Level 3 category. All of these students are top-performing students in the school's Japanese program and members of the popular Japanese Culture Club that meets each Wednesday after class. The students were coached by the leader of New Trier's Japanese program, teacher Naomi Suzuki (known by her students as Suzuki Sensei). The teams reviewed during Japanese Club after school to prepare for the competition.
"I feel that participating in the Japan Bowl has given me the opportunity to dig deeper into my appreciation for Japanese language and culture in a way that feels rewarding on a personal and global level," senior Donovan Greene said, reflecting on her experience competing at the Illinois Japan Bowl for two years. "It's really an amazing feeling to win recognition, but more than that, to show up to see 250 or so other high schoolers invested in their own learning just like you. This makes the hard work feel like it paid off, just in the fact that you get to feel like a part of something bigger."