Members of the ABCUSD Day of Remembrance Committee: (Front row, from left) Iku Kiriyama, Mike Hatchimoniji, Joyce Okazaki. June Betk; (second row) Richard Murakami, Janet Fujii, Kyoko Oda, Jenny Chomori; (third row) Jason Fujii, Ernie Nishii, Kay Oda. Not pictured: Minoru Tonai.

CERRITOS — The ABC Unified School District, headquartered in Cerritos, on April 12 honored the Nisei and Sansei who have presented their personal stories on the Day of Remembrance for four years.

In 2006, Superintendent Mary Sieu initiated the Standing Ovation Award to recognize the community and volunteers who have made a difference for the students in this innovative district. She said that everyone should experience a standing ovation once in a lifetime.

The live format for the Day of Remembrance changed two years ago due to COVID restrictions but the group was dedicated to telling their World War II concentration camp  stories via Zoom and managed to move into breakout rooms. Some family members made the transitions go smoothly. All interviews and discussions have been recorded for further use.

District Coordinator Audrey Rios stated that these presentations left an impact on the students. She presented letters of thanks from the teachers and students to the group. A special 50th anniversary pin made for ABCUSD was given to each person, including Manzanar Committee Co-chair Jenny Chomori and members Janet and Jason Fujii.

Kyoko Oda said, “The 80th anniversary (of Executive Order 9066) was especially important to reflect upon the Bill of Rights and the protections we value.”

Board of Education Trustee H. Ernie Nishii, whose late mother was among those incarcerated, said, “We set a strong foundation for our district to educate our students to stand up for others who may be wrongfully treated with expediency.”

He pointed out an Ansel Adams photo of Joyce Okazaki when she was a child in camp and put in jail for no reason. He thanked the ABCUSD Day of Remembrance Committee for “their honesty and truthfulness in their tenth decade.”

Others who have participated are Kanji Sahara, Bill Shishima, Hal Keimi, and Marvin Inouye.

The ABCUSD includes Carmenita, Fedde, Haskell, Ross and Tetzlaff middle schools and Artesia, Cerritos, Gahr, Tracy and Whitney high schools.

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