Lakeview Elementary Flagship Student Class Triumphs in Cultural Immersion with Capstone Trip to Brazil

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Lakeview Elementary’s first cohort of dual-immersion Portuguese students, including Lakeview Elementary Principal and former Portuguese Director Jamie Davis-Leite, and her daughter, Isabella, recently toured Brazil, marking a significant milestone for the program. Their journey included visits to iconic sites such as the Christ Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Copacabana Beach; from city to jungle, students saw much of the world they’ve only studied for the past twelve years. “I had high expectations for the trip. It surpassed every expectation,” Davis-Leite shared.

Twenty-five Provo High juniors and seniors, led by their former elementary teacher and current high school teacher Lily Bueno, embarked on a transformative educational journey to Brazil, marking many firsts: the first time back to Brazil for Lily in 21 years; for one student, the first time on a plane; for three students, their first visit to the ocean; for ten, their first trip out of the country; for nineteen, their first visit to South America; and for twenty-two, their first time in Brazil.

The program’s beginning, however, was demanding. Davis-Leite and Lily Bueno worked tirelessly from its inception. Lily Bueno has been pivotal to the development of Lakeview Elementary’s Dual-Immersion Portuguese program. She served as its inaugural teacher and guided the first cohort from their elementary years through high school, even returning after completing her master’s degree to ensure continuity in their educational journey.

“Lily and I were knocking on doors, handing out flyers,” Jamie recalled. The program has since grown from about 100 students to over 2000 across Utah.

Their trip to Brazil brought their studies to life. They revisited sites from a “Rio-movie-themed party” that initially sparked interest among the students as elementary schoolers. “Fast-forward 12 years, and we brought them to those very places—they even experienced a samba parade, echoing the movie’s finale,” Davis-Leite said.

Preparations for the trip were extensive, with many students working part-time and fundraising. “The kids have been working hard for a year and a half. Many of them earned the money themselves,” she noted.

Yes, this trip was filled with firsts, yet the trip seems a bookend for Davis-Leite, who expressed deep pride in the program’s impact on embracing multicultural identities. “Once they started this program, they took pride in being different. It’s created a unique and special community,” she stated.

Their tour was, in many ways, concentric, beautifully cyclical. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to take your daughter to their native country, let alone to take your school’s flagship graduating class to the location studied and discussed for the past twelve years. Rarely do educators have the opportunity to see not only their budding students grow but also the blossoming of a garden; we thank her for making Utah a richer state and for rooting our community in empathy and academic achievement. We congratulate Jamie, her colleagues, and her students for their hard work.

We invite you to read the full interview here and enjoy the short film collage below.


Spencer Tuinei

  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei

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