How did this relationship begin, why and how did Eagle Point and School District 9 become a point of so much interest to students and representatives of Showa?
It began when EPHS graduate John Payne, Jr. began teaching there. It wasn’t long and he talked to his parents, John and Ellen Payne, about having students from Showa visit the area and the schools. That conversation has developed into an unbelievable commitment on the part of the Paynes. At first, John, Jr. would come with the group but as time went on his obligations prevented him from being available. But a relationship with Showa was developed from that very first visit and continues to the present as was very evident last week.
John and Ellen Payne have been more than gracious host and hostess, they are one of two couples the school district and city rely on for each visit of the Showa community. The other couple is Dennis and Kathy Quiring. John is a retired Eagle Point Junior High social studies teacher and Dennis, also retired, spent several years as principal of that school.
From an address to contact the visitors, to proper etiquette, to attending planning meetings, meeting with potential host families when a dozen students and several adults are arriving, to helping plan every hour of a visit to being one of the tour guides, John and Ellen Payne have been there from the beginning. And certainly it wasn’t long after Quirings arrived in the district that they became involved. Both couples have hosted groups to Showa and assisted in reparation for students and chaperones planning a visit to Showa.
The Showa delegation in Eagle Point last week did not speak English. They had an interpreter with them, but Paynes and Quirings were able to provide a clearer understanding to those of us with questions.
In August a group of 12 students and their chaperones will be arriving from Showa. The students will have earned the right to come because of their academic standing. Japanese students study English so the language barrier should not be a major issue. While many have just come to assume help from Eagle Point residents John and Ellen Payne, as well as Quirings who now live nearby in Central Point, we need to think where we would be without all of their assistance.
The contribution these couples have made is quite incredible. To say thank you does not seem enough. We hope there are those interested in hosting some students this August.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent