The Japanese American Optimist Club (JAO) held their basketball jamboree on Sunday, March 21 at Schurr High School in Montebello to close out their winter season. JAO commissioner Leland Lau brought his usual bubbly personality as the event’s emcee while JAO president Nikki Kodama and JAO Scholarship Committee Chairman Ken Kitani were in charge of handing out the raffle items and scholarships. Marissa Kawasaki of the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, Kelsey Ohara of Rowland High School and Kimberly Takaoka of LaSalle High School were the scholarship awardees. Marissa, of Wanjettes, won $250 for her work in Girl Scouts, inclusion in the National Honor Society as well as her participation in athletics. Kelsey, of the Sabers/Saberettes, was awarded $750 for her excellence in school, her involvement in athletics and her work as president of the Junior Optimist Club. Kimberly, a member of the Tigers, took home $1,500 for her participation in senior senate, yearbook committee, and class council, her inclusion on the varsity golf and basketball teams for LaSalle as well as her extensive volunteer experience that includes coaching basketball and helping out at Keiro Intermediate Care Facility and the Pasadena Humane Society. A few hundred players and members of their families filled up Schurr High School, while rows and rows of trophies were handed out along with raffle prizes ranging from handbags to iPods to a Diana Taurasi autographed basketball.
Photos by Steve Awakuni and JORDAN IKEDA/Rafu Shimpo