MENASHA (WFRV) -- The Menasha school district recently earned a unique distinction.
It has the only k-12 Japanese language program in the United States.
"We can turn on the T.V. and it's not just news about Menasha, the Fox Cities, we're connected globally," says Japanese teacher Lynn Sessler.
That's why for the past 19 years the district has offered three global languages including Japanese.
"We are very fortunate to have 2 native speakers of the language," Sessler said. "They are invaluable in our program. I don't know what we would do without them.
Now, the program is getting a $60,000 grant from the Japan forum, a non-profit with a mission to teach students about the Japanese culture.
Menasha will use the money to expand its language classes and bring more cultural programs like these Taiko drummers to the Fox Cities.
"We're also looking at our technology. Cut to expand to students online in the area that are interested in taking Japanese language courses, but their district can't afford to have a class."
Students in Menasha can start taking foreign language classes in kindergarten. Research shows that kids under ten are the most receptive to learning a foreign language.
Sessler adds, "I truly believe they are much more culturally aware, ready for the world. Maybe taking more risks, meeting people they don't know or talking to someone, understanding differences because of the experience we gave them here."
This year marked a milestone for Japanese classes in Menasha. The students who launched the program as kindergartners just graduated college.
According to the district, a majority of them continued to study foreign language in some capacity.