The Portland JACL is a proud member of the Portland Japanese American Banquet and Scholarship Committee.
The tradition of the Japanese American Graduation Banquet started in 1948 when Misao Hayashi, wife of Reverend Francis Hayashi of the Epworth Methodist Church, had a reception for the local Japanese American graduates at the Broadway Theater. The students watched the movie Go for Broke with Van Johnson. Charles Shimomura was the first master of ceremony at the event where the Oregon Nisei Veterans honored the outstanding athletes. Subsequently, they broadened the purpose of the reception to honor the outstanding high school graduates for their academic achievements in the Portland metropolitan area. Scholarships were eventually offered by different Nikkei community organizations. It wasn’t until Howard Henjyoji, a Harvard bound student from Cleveland High School who later went on to medical school, was given all of the scholarships in one year that the community saw the need to work together.
Eleven local Nikkei organizations organize and plan an annual awards and scholarship banquet to celebrate the high school graduation of students who live in the Portland area (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties) and Clark County in Washington. Students or their parents must be a member of one of the following organizations by October 15th of the student’s senior year to be eligible to apply:
Epworth United Methodist Church
Nichiren Buddhist Temple
Oregon Buddhist Temple
Portland Chapter JACL
Shokookai of Portland
Scholarship applications are posted on the Portland Chapter JACL Website in August. Applications are due in March (exact date may vary by year).