Japanese American Graduation Banquet

Japanese American Graduation Banquet

Portland JACL Newsletter: June 2012 Issue
(click here for the latest issue)

Board Member Message by: Marleen Wallingford

Japanese American Graduation Banquet

Portland JACL Lynn NakamuraThe 65th annual Japanese American Graduation Banquet honored the high school graduating class of 2012. The first recognition of Japanese American high school seniors occurred in 1948, just after the Japanese returned to the Portland community after their forced incarceration. Returning to a hostile environment created a close knit community where Japanese Americans looked to their community to find support. More than half a century later, our community has changed. We no longer live in Japantown. We no longer are excluded from school activities. We are proud of our cultural heritage and we want our children to understand that there is a larger Nikkei community who wants to help support their aspirations and education.

Portland JACL 2012 Scholarship Recipients

The Honorable Lynn Nakamura, the first Asian American appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, gave the banquet address. Judge Nakamura talked to the graduates about the small and large decisions that they will be confronting now that they are moving into adulthood. She talked about the mistakes that she had made but that failure also provided life lessons and taught her that she needed to be true to herself.

Saori Erickson, one of the graduates who plans to pursue a career in music, sang the Star Spangled Banner. Rev. Gregory Gibbs of the Oregon Buddhist Temple gave the invocation.

This year the Scholarship Committee headed by Chip Larouche of Nikkei Jin Kai gave 13 scholarships to students who showed academic excellence as well as participated in athletic and community service activities.

Saori Erickson, Grant High School
Yoshiko Kennedy Scholarship
University of Oregon

Saori is a member of the National Honor Society. She has participated in the Japanese Magnet Program since she was in kindergarten and has attained pre-Advanced level proficiency in Japanese. She participated in the Consul General’s Japanese Speech Contest her freshman and sophomore years. Saori has been a member of the school band for four years. She plays the flute and is the section leader. She placed third in the Oregon State Music Educators competition. She sings with the honor choir, the Royal Blues. She placed first for soprano solo in the state competition this year. She is a member of Trinity Fellowship Church.


Christopher Funaki, Westview High School
Mabel Shoji Boggs Scholarship
University Southern California

Christopher is one of the top 5% of his high school class. He is enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and has been honored as an AP Scholar with distinction. He is a National Merit Scholar Finalist.

Christopher is a member of Key Club and plays the violin in the symphonic band. He is a varsity soccer player and his team won the state championship. Christopher has volunteered at OMSI.


Raiko Green, David Douglas High School
Matthew Masuoka Scholarship, Oregon Nisei Vets Athletic Award
University of Oregon Honors College

Raiko is in the top 5% of her class. She plays the clarinet and is a member of Wind Ensemble, symphony orchestra and has played in the school musicals. She has played in the basketball pep band and was selected Drum Major. Raiko was also selected to play in the All State Honor Band. Raiko is a member of her school’s water polo and swim team. She was honored as the Mt. Hood All-Conference Most Valuable Player for water polo this year. Raiko was selected to be on the Junior Olympics Water Polo Team.



Karyl Kanada, Tigard High School
University of Washington

Karyl is the valedictorian of her class with a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of National Honor society and the Japanese national Honor society. She helped plan Japan Night at her school which raised cultural awareness and funds for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. She is a member of the National Art Honor society. She was elected as the Human Relations officer at Tigard during her junior and senior years and volunteered over 270 hours organizing and putting on community events. She is on the varsity soccer team and the senior captain. Her junior year she was the Key Club president.


Maria Kojima, Beaverton High School
Nikkei Fujinkai Scholarship
Portland State University

Maria is a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club. She has played varsity tennis. She has worked as an assistant to the Japanese class. She is vice president of the Japanese Club. She attended the Saturday Japanese School through her junior year.




Emi Lee, Cleveland High School
Tsuya Minamoto Scholarship
Smith College

Emi is a co-president of Unite People, the Portland JACL youth group. She has danced for 14 years with Oregon Ballet Theater and the Portland Ballet. She is a member of National Honor Society, the school choir and was on the Cleveland High School Rose Festival court. She is a member of the Grant swim and tennis teams and has worked at Body Vox as a dance camp counselor and at Portland Parks and Recreation as a lifeguard.


Amy Li, Westview High School
Roger Okamoto Scholarship
Pepperdine University

Amy is a member of National Honor Society and in the top 5% of her class. She has taken advanced placement classes and is a member of Key Club. She has worked as a teacher assistant in her school’s Japanese language class. She is a member of the Japanese International Baptist church.



Tyler Nagae, Central Catholic High School
Gresham –Troutdale JACL Scholarship, Oregon Nisei Vets Athletic Award
Loyola Marymount University

Tyler is in the top 5% of his high school class. He has taken advanced placement classes. He volunteers with Special Olympics and the Oregon Food Bank. He has also volunteered as a tutor with struggling students. Tyler has played football all four years of high school. His team was the state quarterfinalists. He plays center and has played the offensive and defensive positions. He received an Honorable Mention for the All-State Team.


Stephanie Nakamine, Grant High School
Art and Teri Iwasaki Scholarship
University of Portland

Stephanie has taken advanced placement classes. She is a member of Key Club and the photography editor of the yearbook. She was the JV Soccer team captain in 2009 and also assistant coach. Stephanie has played on the JV tennis team. She is on the varsity swimming team and snowboard team.



Sean Sakaguchi, Tigard High School
Satsuki Azumano Scholarship
Claremont McKenna College

Sean is a member of the National Honor Society. He is president of the Japanese National Honor Society. He worked on the school’s Japan Night which was a cultural event and fundraiser for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. He is a member of the Student Council and the Tigard High School Site Council. He was the Future Business Leaders of American, 2011 State Champion and Tigard High’s nominee for the US Senate Youth Scholarship Program. He is president and founder of the Literacy Initiative in Tigard and founder of the Tigard High Young Democrats. Sean has worked as an intern for US Senator Ron Wyden. Sean was selected by the Scholarship Committee to give the Graduate Response at the banquet.

Ross Seeman, Grant High School
Hideo Naito Scholarship
Pepperdine University

Ross is a member of National Honor Society. He was selected to participate in the Business Leadership program at his school and used the skills acquired to help market and design school apparel for the student store. He has been enrolled in the Japanese Magnet Program since kindergarten. He is one of the co-Presidents of Unite People, the Portland JACL youth group. He is the founder and vice-president of the Grant Key Club. Ross was the Consulate General’s Japan Trip Scholarship recipient. He was able to take a two week, all expense paid trip to Tokyo and Kyoto his sophomore year in high school. Ross also traveled to Selma, Alabama and took the civil rights walk from Selma to Montgomery. He was the only non-African American student selected to attend. Ross is a varsity swimmer and he has been a coach and instructor for novice swimmers. He has swum across the Columbia River for the past nine years in the Roy Webster Cross Channel Swim.

Jordan Shellmire, Grant High School
State Farm Scholarship
Warner Pacific College

Jordan is a Unite People co-president. He is the Black Student Union Community Outreach Coordinator and co-president. He was the class vice president his junior and senior years. He is a member of the National Honor society. He has played on the Grant football team. This year he participated in the school musical, Hairspray. Jordan has volunteered at Goose Hollow and plays Ultimate Frisbee.


Corey Suyematsu, Camas High School
Portland JACL Scholarship
University of Portland

Corey is a member of the National Honor Society and one of the top 10% of his class. He is a member of Key Club and a member of the Camas High School Marching Band and Wind Ensemble He plays in the High School Drum Line which requires hours of practice to perform at all sporting events of the high school. He has volunteered at Ikoi No Kai senior lunch program and is a certified referee for the Camas-Washougal Soccer Club.



The following students received the
Mrs. Mark Sumida Awards:

Schafer Durgan, Southridge High School
Central Washington University

Andrew Koida, Riverdale High School
University of Oregon

Kelly Martin, Glencoe High School
University of Oregon

Koichi Omara, Koichi Omara, Catlin Gabel
University of Oregon

Kyle Onchi, Grant High School
Portland State University

Disney Sato, International School of Beaverton
Pacific University

Ada Thatcher-James, Cleveland High School
Stanford University

Kenny Tsunenaga, Sunset High School
Oregon State University

Carolyn Wilson, Sunset High School
Washington and Jefferson College

Mrs. Sumida has been a generous supporter of the Japanese American Graduation Banquet for many years.

Many thanks to the Japanese American Graduation Banquet Committee headed this year by Kay Endo of the Japanese Ancestral Society. Eleven sponsoring organizations help organize and support the annual Japanese American Graduation Banquet:

Buddhist Daihonzan Henjyoji Temple
Epworth United Methodist Church
Gresham-Troutdale JACL

Japanese Ancestral Society
Nichiren Buddhist Temple
Nikkei Fujinkai
Oregon Buddhist Temple

Oregon Nisei Veterans, Inc.
Portland Chapter JACL
Shokookai of Portland
Veleda Club

This year we had an outstanding group of graduates. We are proud of your accomplishments and the Nikkei community wants to support you as you move on to your next challenge.

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