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12 Local Students Win Scholarships to Concordia Language Villages

The program started in 2004 grants 100th Scholarship

Saturday, March 29, the Bemidji Area Friends of Concordia Language Villages awarded 12 one-week scholarships to fourth and fifth graders from Bemidji, Blackduck, Kelliher, Northome, Solway, and Deer River. With these 12 scholarships the Bemidji Area Friends has passed the century mark and awarded a total of 103 scholarships to area students since the scholarship contest began in 2004. In order to mark this occasion, Ben McDonald, a 2009 scholarship winner, spoke about the friends he made during his first summer at Mori no Ike, the Japanese Language Village, and how he has returned for five summers to see those friends and learn more Japanese.

The annual essay contest has been sponsored and coordinated for the past 11 years by the Bemidji Area Friends of Concordia Language Villages, a volunteer group building connections between Concordia Language Villages and the community of Bemidji. Students who participate in the essay contest select a language taught at Concordia Language Villages and write about how they can learn and grow from the study of the language and culture they selected. Pat Rice, who has spearheaded the fundraising and contest effort for several years, says her goal is to award scholarships to at least 10 percent of the winners. This year the organization met that goal by awarding scholarships to 12 of the 93 entrants.

The funding for the scholarships came from the generous support of a number of local donors including Paul Bunyan Communications; North Country Snowmobile Club; the Bemidji Rotary Club; First National Bank of Bemidji; Affinity Plus Credit Union; Naylor Heating and Refrigeration; Brigid's Pub; Super 8, Bemidji; Sanford Health; JP Egelhof Investigations, LLC; Pinnacle; Herington Shoes; Hampton Inn & Suites, Bemidji; and numerous individual donors. The Bemidji Area Friends of Concordia Language Villages also raised additional funds by hosting a Scholarship Benefit Dinner in October with a Russian banquet and a musical presentation at Lesnoe Ozero, the Russian Language Village. This annual benefit dinner is open to the public. Next fall the group plans to host the benefit dinner with an authentic Italian meal.

The 2014 essay contest winners are:

• Kree Coborn Ellenson, fifth grader at Central Elementary, Chinese Language Village because she wants to accompany her mom on a trip to China. She wants to feel the excitement she felt while visiting Chinatown in Chicago.

• Nicole Evenson, fourth grader at Northern Elementary, Norwegian Language Village because she is 50 percent Norwegian and feels connected to Norwegian culture through her grandfather's stories about the Vikings, his adventures in Vardahl, and his family's immigration to Minnesota.

• Ana Kern, fourth grader at Blackduck Elementary, Portuguese Language Village because she has a Brazilian sister-in-law and has learned some Portuguese words from her. She has also eaten Brazilian food and thinks that it's interesting.

• Ashlynn Wuori, fifth grader at Solway Elementary, Italian Language Village because she loves to eat pasta and wants to learn about art, her favorite subject in school. She wants to learn as much as possible about Italian culture before traveling to Italy.

• Deanna Francisco, fifth grader at King Elementary, German Language Village because her family is mostly German and she wants to learn about her roots. She wants to find out why her family cooks and eats so much sauerkraut.

• Kimberly Sydow, fifth grader at Blackduck Elementary, Finnish Language Village because her uncle comes from Finland and she would like to learn Finnish and teach it to her friends, class, and family. She will work hard, have lots of fun, and make new friends.

• DJ Holthusen, fifth grader at Kelliher Elementary, French Language Village because he wants to be able to communicate better with his grandparents and meet new people.

• Callista Poxleitner, fourth grader at Blackduck Elementary, French Language Village because she believes in the saying that learning another language is like gaining another soul. She wants to speak with her aunt and teach her family French.

• Karly Pitzl, fourth grader at Blackduck Elementary, German Language Village because her grandfathers are from Germany and she wants to know what their lives were like. She wants to learn about their foods and their traditions.

• Raina Froehlich, fifth grader at Horace May Elementary, Norwegian Language Village because she is one quarter Norwegian and wants to learn about her heritage. Her great grandfather and great grandmother were from Oslo.

• Americiss Rushman, fifth grader at Northome Elementary, Russian Language Village because her mom took Russian when she was Americiss' age and she wants to be just like her. Her whole family speaks Russian and she wants to go to Russia for one of her birthdays.

• Noelle Aguilera, fourth grader at Schoolcraft Learning Community, Spanish Language Village because she is half Mexican and likes to play Spanish music on the piano. She wants to learn the language, dance, culture, and music.

The mission of Concordia Language Villages is to prepare young people for responsible citizenship in our global community. It has been a model of innovative language and culture immersion programs and offers one-, two- and four-week summer programs in 15 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. Concordia Language Villages, a program of Concordia College, was established in 1961, and serves more than 4,000 people, of all ages and from all 50 states and many other countries during a summer. Concordia Language Villages also offers local day camps and school year programs for school groups, adults and families. For more information, please call (800) 222-4750 or visit


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