Finals week fundraiser designed to support trip to Japan this summer

Their flight doesn’t leave until 5:25 a.m. July 4, but they have been planning — and saving — for months already.

The six members of West Linn High School’s Japanese Cultural Exchange Club will head to southern Japan for more than two weeks this summer, and they have several fundraisers planned to help raise the money the trip will require.

They and their families have absorbed most of the cost of the trip. However, an unexpected jump in costs added about $700 to each student’s tab, which was already at about $4,000.

“That was a real struggle for us,” Samantha Johnson said. She is a 2014 graduate who will cap her high school career with the memorable trip.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Samantha Johnson, Michelle Goldenberg, Elizabeth Anderson, Gunnar Maples and Isabella Raad offer care packages during finals week. Proceeds from the fundraiser will help the students, all members of the WLHS Japanese Cultural Exchange Club, pay for unexpected additional fees for their trip to Japan this summer.The students set an ambitious goal of raising $4,200 to cover that extra amount for each student on the trip. They have plans for a bikeathon later this summer, and they came up with a novel idea to ease students’ burden during finals week: Parents were invited to purchase “care packages” for their students, to be delivered this week.

Each $5 care package included a bottle of water, a pencil and eraser, a granola bar and a mint. The mint, students say, is proven to improve concentration and improve test results.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Each care package includes essentials like water, a pencil and an eraser as well as a personalized note.The fundraising, so far, has been slow. The six students remain optimistic, though, and have high hopes for their bikeathon. They also have set up a fundraising page at for anyone interested in supporting their travel plans.

During their trip, the students will spend the first week sightseeing in towns like Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara and Osaka. After that, they will spend the remainder of their time living with host families. Each student had a ready list of the things they were most looking forward to: the food, the monkeys, the deer, shopping and, somewhat surprisingly, the bread. The group will spend a few days in a small town that boasts a bakery, and the students are looking forward to sampling local delicacies like melon bread and yakisoba bread.

With plans for the bikeathon going full steam ahead, the students see a benefit beyond the bucks it might bring in. They plan to spend a lot of time walking, and they know that they need to be in shape for it.

“The bike ride will be a good help for getting us ready for Japan,” Isabella Raad said.

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