Mona Merlo, principal of the Sato Academy of Math and Science, addresses the school’s first graduating class on June 5.

LONG BEACH — Sato Academy of Math and Science, named for former Long Beach Mayor Eunice Sato, celebrated its first commencement on June 5.

Principal Mona Merlo said 106 students graduated, with students admitted to universities including Stanford, UC Berkeley and Cal State Long Beach.

Eunice Sato

Sato Academy — the first school in the district to be named for an Asian American — opened in 2016 on the former Hill Classical Middle School campus and now enrolls freshmen and sophomores. The school is modeled after the Long Beach Unified School District’s nationally recognized California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS), located on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Merlo said the student body is approximately 400. Sato Academy offers programs such as aerospace and rocketry. She said that “small, but mighty” applies to the academy and its Japanese American namesake.

Sato served as mayor of Long Beach from 1980 to 1982. Her son Doug was in attendance at the commencement ceremony. Sato currently lives in an assisted living facility.

Dr. Christina Lee gave opening remarks, noting the importance of education, urging students to “Focus. Move forward.”

Student speakers Leia Reddy and Brendan Brang addressed the graduating class.

Merlo said that Sato Academy continues to expand with new science and engineering labs, and a computer-integrated manufacturing lab set to open. By next year, the school will be one of the highest-ranked in the Long Beach Unified School District.

“If Eunice could say anything, it would be ‘Together, anything is possible,’” Merlo said.

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