Josai program gets green light from feds

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program, better known as SEVIS, has approved Sweet Home High School’s certification to host foreign exchange students.

The school’s 30-year student exchange with Josai University High School in Tokyo, Japan, was interrupted this year after paperwork necessary to renew SHHS’s certification was not completed in time and SEVIS terminated it.

Cyndi Burford, the former coordinator of the program who has been working to restore it after the paperwork glitch, said Supt. Don Schrader received an e-mail last week from SEVIS stating Sweet Home is certified and is now able to produce the necessary forms to receive exchange students.

She said Josai administrators will begin selecting students to participate in next year’s exchange program.

“They are all excited,” she said.

The school district’s four-day school week has raised eyebrows in Japan, but Burford said the responses she’s gotten indicate that Josai is prepared to move forward.

“I told them that as long as the kids that come get into a sport or into clubs, they will do well,” she said. “Last year’s kids really liked Key Club.”

The high school currently has an exchange student from South Korea who is here with an independent program that has its own certification and can place a certain number of students in schools that may not have their own certification.

Host families will be needed. For information, contact current Coordinator Deborah Handman at the high school at (541) 367-7142.