HomeBlocksFront-GridJapanese Program Students to Merge in Rosemont Middle School

Japanese Program Students to Merge in Rosemont Middle School

Sixth-grade students enrolled in the Japanese Dual Language Immersion program at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School will kick off the first phase of merging the program’s pathways by joining the Dunsmore Elementary Japanese DLI students at Rosemont Middle School for the 2024-25 school year.
Due to declining enrollment in the program, the Glendale Unified School District’s Board of Education voted on Tuesday to merge the secondary Japanese DLI pathways for students at Dunsmore and Verdugo Woodlands, while still maintaining separate programs at the elementary level. This is because enrollment is still strong at the kindergarten level, but as the program progresses, students begin to drop it.
Currently, there are seven students in the Verdugo Woodlands Elementary Japanese DLI program, with one student being a native speaker. These students will matriculate to Rosemont, rather than their pathway school, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, next year.
Takuto Ishimatsu, the father of the only native speaker in the program at Verdugo Woodlands, spoke at Tuesday’s Board meeting urging the Board to allow the students to continue their studies at Rosemont. He explained that GUSD’s Japanese DLI program allows his daughter to take on a leadership role as she guides her fellow students who are not as proficient in the language as she is. On the flip side, however, Ishimatsu said being the only native speaker can be isolating.
“Conversations with friends are often dominated by the English speakers which is good in the sense that she is immersed in English, but she ends up not speaking much, which then doesn’t help other students learn Japanese,” Ishimatsu said. “The point here is the lack of balance between the two languages for both the native and non-native sides.”
Joining the larger cohort of students in the Dunsmore sixth-grade class would help create a more balanced mix of native and non-native speakers for his daughter, he said.
A student in the sixth-grade Japanese DLI class, Elise Corbett, shared similar thoughts at the meeting.
“As our class got smaller and smaller, our interactions in Japanese became less and less since many of us were still learning the language and there were only a couple native speakers,” she said. “Now when I think of the opportunities our seven-person class could have if we go to Rosemont with the Dunsmore JDL students, I’m so excited.
“We will finally have so many more students to interact with and we will finally have the support we need to go onto high school and maybe even college,” she added.
Beginning the 2026-27 school year, the high school pathways will continue with all ninth-grade students in the program enrolling at Crescenta Valley High School to complete their Japanese studies.
The current seventh graders at Wilson will remain at Wilson for the 2024-25 school year and will be able to attend their current pathway school, Glendale High School, to finish the program. After these students complete the program, Japanese DLI will be phased out of Glendale High and operate solely at CVHS.
Board Clerk Ingrid Gunnell advised that the district keep a close eye on enrollment of other dual language programs during a February Board meeting.
“I would like us to look at all of our dual language programs that are at two or more school sites to see any declining enrollment patterns so that we can prevent this same situation from happening in the future,” Gunnell said.
Agreeing with Gunnell, Board Vice President Shant Sahakian emphasized that he wished there had been a plan to strengthen enrollment so there could be two sustainable programs.
Nancy Hong, director of dual language immersion and magnet programs, responded by saying, based on the trends of the last few years, it does not appear that two pathways would be sustainable in Japanese.
She explained that it is costly for the district to maintain less than average class sizes, adding that a combined group will “make an even stronger cohort and a more dynamic learning environment because there are different peers in the mix.”

Students in the Japanese Dual Language Immersion program are immersed in Japanese culture as a part of their studies, such as learning to play Japanese Taiko Drums.

First published in the March 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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