Freshman year can be a trying time. Teens are at a difficult age, on the bridge between childhood and young adulthood. Relationships are changing, bodies are maturing, and hormones are in overdrive. Parents sometimes become less involved in overseeing homework just as teens are being given greater responsibility in school. And they are leaving middle schools for high schools that can be as large as colleges and include students old enough to vote.
All this creates turmoil. Freshmen are more likely than upperclassmen to fail a class or be suspended. More than 30% of high school students quit before graduation, and in most states the greatest share of that loss occurs in ninth grade, according to a 2006 study by the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in Bethesda, Md.
The school board has decided to name the 9th grade campus. It will be "San Leandro High School, ___________ Campus." And the board has invited the community to submit nominations for the name.
The names that school boards give to schools both reflect and shape civic values. They reflect values because naming a school after someone or something provides at least an implicit endorsement of the values that the name represents. And school names can shape values by providing educators with a teaching opportunity: teachers at a Lincoln Elementary, for example, can reference the school name to spark discussions of the evils of slavery and the benefits of preserving our union.What criteria should the school board use in selecting a name for the new campus? The school district policy for naming facilities states that names may be any individual, living or deceased, who made outstanding contributions to the community, state, country or world.
In 1942, I was arrested and convicted for being a Japanese American trying to live here in the Bay Area. The day after my arrest a newspaper headline declared, "Jap Spy Arrested in San Leandro."
After the war, Korematsu returned to the East Bay, and was active in our community. He served twice as the President of the San Leandro Lions Club and was a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, San Francisco Bay Council. He often spoke to students about the Japanese American internment and inspire them to respect and cherish their civil rights. As reported in the May 14, 1994 edition of the San Leandro Times, Korematsu gave a lecture to students at San Leandro High School:
Korematsu said that students must be aggressive when they feel their constitutional rights have been violated. "any of you can be interned because of whom you resemble." Korematsu told the students they should be proud of their diversity. "Just because you look different doesn't mean you're not American."