Japanese American Graduation Banquet

Japanese American Graduation Banquet

Portland JACL Newsletter: June 2013 Issue
(click here for this latest issue)

Board Message by Marleen Wallingford

The 66th annual Japanese American Graduation Banquet honored the high school graduating class of 2013.

Portland JACL, Todd Yuzuriha

Our keynote speaker this year was Todd Yuzuriha, a sansei who grew up in southeast Portland and attended Parkrose High School. He attended the graduation banquet and was the recipient of the Portland JACL scholarship. Todd attended Stanford University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering and went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He also obtained his MBA from the University of Portland. He had a rewarding career in the high tech industry. In retirement, Todd was elected to the Evergreen School District School Board. He hosts a podcast called the Money Jar which is a weekly show sponsored by Junior Achievement that discusses kids and money. Todd plays the trumpet for the Minidoka Swing Band and this spring played for his neighborhood school’s musical Oklahoma along with his younger daughter, Joy.

Todd’s speech this evening was on the importance of being resilient. Know where you come from–be grateful for your family, teachers, and mentors. Challenge yourself–work hard to put yourself in hard situations. Make personal connections–people are more important than things. Todd related some of his own personal challenges with vision loss and community challenges when Crestline, an elementary schools in his district was destroyed by fire.

Portland JACL 2013 Graduation Banquet

Consul General of Japan Furusawa speaks at the 2013 Japanese American Graduation Banquet,
Multnomah Athletic Club, Portland, Oregon. Listening at the head table are (l to r) Elaine Yuzuriha, keynote
speaker Todd Yuzuriha, Master of Ceremonies Jeff Selby, and Rev. David Komeiji.

Kenneth Fukumoto, a graduate who plans to pursue a career in music performance played the National Anthem with his instrument the saxophone. Reverend Shunko David Komeiji of the Buddhist Daihonzan Henjyoji Temple gave the invocation.

The Oregon Nisei Vets gave the athletic trophies to Ryutaro Morgan, Westview High School and Laura Suzuki, Lakeridge High School. Ryutaro has participated in his high school track and field team all four years of high school. He was given the best 1500 meter award his junior year and received the Metro League All-Star Academic Award. He was recognized as the freshman and sophomore of the year and as well as the best performing junior.

He was a member of his high school cross country team and has been the team captain for the 11th and 12th grades. His team was recognized as the second team in All State and was the metro leave first team this year. He was given the most valuable runner award for both years he ran.

Ryutaro has played high school soccer. He plays midfield and his team was the State Semi-finalist. This year he has played on the Intel Premier Association Soccer Team which placed 4th out of 14 teams.

Laura has been selected as the captain for two years of the cross country team which has over 80 members. She has run cross country ever since her freshman year. Her coach describes her as one of the most improved runners that he has known between her freshmen to senior year.

Laura has participated in varsity track and field all four years of high school.


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

JACL 2013 Scholar Elliot Oblander


Eliot Oblander, Franklin High School, Satsuki Azumano Scholarship, University of Pennsylvania. Eliot is a member of National Honor Society and will be one of the class valedictorians. He also is a member of Students for a Free Tibet and the Queer Straight Alliance. He has been recognized as a Portland Parks and Recreation volunteer with the Meals on Wheels Program. Eliot has volunteered over 250 hours preparing or delivering meals to senior citizens.

Eliot is a fluent Japanese speaker. He also has been studying Mandarin since his freshman year in high school. He is currently in the Advanced Placement Chinese. Eliot was chosen to participate in the U.S Department of State funded program, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. He was able to travel to China and through this experience gained a better understanding and awareness of cultural differences. He is interested in a career in international relations.

 JACL 2013 Scholar Laura Suzuki

Laura Suzuki, Lakeridge High School, Hide Naito Scholarship, University of Michigan. In addition to all of her athletic activities, Laura is a fluent Japanese speaker. She has attended the Portland Japanese School since elementary school. Laura has been the Multicultural Club President. She has been a Unite People member and is co-president this year. She has volunteered at Kurabu, a Japanese immersion summer camp. Laura has had the opportunity to visit France and developed a strong interest in the language and culture. She plans to be a French major, as well as keeping up with her Japanese studies in college combined with business with a goal of working in international business.


JACL 2013 Scholar Ryutaro Morgan


Ryutaro Morgan, Westview High School, Shokookai Scholarship, Gonzaga University. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Ryutaro traveled to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan He and his father were able to climb the summit of Mt. Fuji which was a grueling five hour climb to the top. He is a member of National Honor Society and has served as the secretary. Ryutaro has been a member of Content for Revival which is a student-led ministry that seeks to build a community of believers. He has been an active member of his church, Village Baptist. He is interested in pursuing a major in computer graphic. He wants to work in the computer graphics industry to improve techniques for 3D visualization to create more realistic animation.

 JACL 2013 Scholar Ken Fukumoto

Kenneth Fukumoto, Grant High School, Gresham-Troutdale JACL and Tsuya and Mary Minamoto Scholarship, New England Conservatory of Music. Kenneth has participated in the Portland Public School’s Japanese Magnet Program since kindergarten. He is a member of the Grant High School Symphonic Band and has been awarded 1st place in the Oregon Music educators District Solo Contest in 2011 and 2012. Kenneth was selected as the winner of the Vancouver Symphony Young Artist’s competition. He was also a finalist in the 2012 North American Saxophone Alliance Young Artist Competition. Kenneth is interested in earning a degree and saxophone performance and performing as a soloist with orchestras and ensembles.

JACL 2013 Scholar Kristi Fukunaga


Kristi Fukunaga, Wilson High School, Portland JACL Mabel Shoji Boggs Scholarship, Willamette University. Kristi has been an active member of the Girl Scouts of America. She has been selected as an Ambassador and Gold Project Mentor. Her project educated people about the effect of marine debris on the environment. She also organized a recycling station at the annual Portland JACL picnic. She was selected to participate in all-expense paid scholarship to go to New Mexico to do field studies and learn more about environmental science with biologists. Kristi has been a member of Students for Environmental Action , the Wilson International Students Klubb and Unite People. She is a member of Oregon Buddhist Temple. She is a minister’s assistant and on the Youth Advocacy Committee. Kristi has volunteered at Goose Hollow Homeless Shelter and at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

 JACL 2013 Scholar Hanna Yamazaki

Hanna Yamasaki, Beaverton High School, Oregon Nisei Veterans Roger Okamoto and Art and Teri Iwasaki Scholarship. Hanna has attended Japanese School on Saturdays since the first grade. She is a fluent Japanese speaker, reader and writer. She is a member of Key Club, DECA and LINK leader. Through her DECA project, she led efforts to revive Becca’s Closet at her school which collects used and new formal wear for students to wear at school dances. She has been a varsity cheerleader. She has run on the JV cross country steam and played racquetball.

Hanna is interested in majoring in journalism or advertising.


The following students received the Mrs. Mark Sumida Awards. Mrs. Sumida has supported the Japanese American Graduation Banquet for many years.

Lennon Boutwell, Grant High School
Maty Ikeda , Cleveland High School, U. of Cincinnati
Toby Ikeda, Grant High School; OSU
Kari O’Donnell, Tigard High School, PSU
Mika Sakai, Wilson High School, School of Art Institute of Chicago

Thank you to the Japanese American Graduation Banquet Committee headed this year by Ron Iwasaki of the Oregon Nisei Veterans, Inc. Eleven sponsoring organizations help organize and support the annual Japanese American Graduation Banquet: Buddhist Daihonzan Henjyoji Temple, Epworth United Methodist Church, the Gresham-Troutdale JACL, Japanese Ancestral Society, Nichiren Buddhist Temple, Nikkei Fujinkai, Oregon Buddhist Temple, Oregon Nisei Veterans, Inc., Portland Chapter JACL, Shokookai of Portland and the Veleda Club.

We are proud of this year’s students. Congratulations to the graduates and to their families. We are confident that one of you may be the keynote speaker at the Graduation Banquet in 2050.



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