The Russian Immersion Program

Alyssa Albright, Reporter

Since 2012 West Anchorage High School has had a Russian Immersion Program led by Elena Farkas. The program started with the graduating class of 2016 when they were in kindergarten and has followed them ever since.

Sofia Jepson has been a student of Ms. Farkas for 12 years. She says the program was introduced through a few Russian classes a week. Once the students reached first grade their school days were half Russian and half English. “Our class has been together for as long as I can remember” according to Jepson.

Farkas had been working since 1994 to start a Russian Immersion Program before it was created at Turnagain Elementary. Before Turnagain Elementary adopted the program Farkas and other administrators of the Anchorage School District tried to the program at Bear Valley Elementary.

The Russian Immersion Program has been planning their very first independent graduation these past few months. Farkas says that the graduation will be held at the UAA Recital Hall in early May.

The students have been selling Northern Lights Coupon Booklets and running concessions at Romig Middle School sporting events along with selling food at the Eagle’s Cache to raise money for their graduation. The graduation will be expensive, but many Russian customs will be practiced.

Farkas is planning on having the kindergarteners ring the last bell for the graduating seniors to symbolize the end of their childhood. The seniors are also going to do a song and dance for “the graduating students to thank their community including their parents and teachers,” says Farkas. The whole graduation will be centered around the influence the Russian culture has had on these students throughout the years.

Roman Hamm, who is a Russian Immersion senior, says, “I will miss this class because there are a lot of great kids.” It will be an emotional graduation for everyone involved in the Russian Immersion Program because they have grown up together.

Farkas, Hamm, and Jepson all commented on how close knit the entire program is. Despite the fact that the class has been broken in half all of the students remain good friends.

This graduation will be paving the road for the rest of the Russian Immersion Program. The class of 2016 will be creating new traditions that others classes will practice when they graduate.