CRHS sophomores visit site of Japanese internment camp for second year

Lindsay Gill, Staff Reporter

Canyon Ridge High School sophomores took a field trip the second year in a row to the Minidoka National Historic site in Jerome, Idaho, the site of a Japanese-American interment camp during World War II.

 While visiting the site of the internment camp, sophomores were able to witness first-hand the living conditions that Japanese and Japanese-Americans had to endure. The Minidoka Internment Camp, just like other Japanese internment camps, was built around 80 years ago after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II when many Americans believed that Japanese-Americans could be spies for Japan. 

Some Idaho residents don’t know about the Minidoka Internment Camp, even while living so close to the site. Canyon Ridge High School sophomore Andrew Mora said, “I was surprised that it existed. My jaw dropped; how could rights just be taken away because of race?” 

“I was shocked as to why this could happen,” said CRHS sophomore Ryker Greaves. 

Garrett Finch, a sophomore at CRHS, agreed that he was “surprised that it could be so close.”

Taking a trip to Minidoka Camp can give the students a first-hand look at what living conditions were like for imprisoned Japanese and Japanese-Americans. They can see what a concentration camp, a term that park rangers and many experts say is a more accurate term, felt like even if it has changed severely since World War II. 

According to Kathrine Bauman, learning about Minidoka is a reality check, “… people knew that this was against the Constitution, what happened to the Japanese. They were taken without due process, no charges were filed, no evidence was found and yet [Japanese-Americans] were still imprisoned,”

English teacher Brent Irish at CRHS expresses how he feels the trip to Minidoka Internment Camp has an effect on sophomores, “[Minidoka Internment Camp] gives [students] visuals, and it gives them a little bit more motive to read because it’s more fun. You know instead of reading out of a book or reading off a worksheet. Or even reading online. It’s better to actually physically go to a place and see either a building or what’s left of a building.” 

Around a couple dozen schools visit Minidoka on a yearly basis. When students visit this camp, they are able to talk with the park rangers about the history of the buildings and get answers to questions that they may not find on Google or from their English teachers. Emily Teraoka, a park ranger at Minidoka Internment Historical Camp, explained that when students come out to Minidoka, they receive more of a learning opportunity being able to see the buildings that are still standing.  

Twin Falls High School sophomores have been visiting the Minidoka Internment Camp for many years, which sparked the interest of Mr. Irish on doing this trip with Canyon Ridge’s sophomore. Last year was the first year that CRHS students went to the Minidoka Internment Camp with the help of Dr. Kesey Teske paying out of his own pocket for part of the trip. 

Administration and sophomore English teachers plan on continuing this learning opportunity well into the future. This in turn will provide future sophomores with the equal opportunity of experiencing this hands-on learning experience.