By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR IN CHIEF
Throughout all facets of his life, George Kiriyama walked the walk of a teacher. His contributions to education were recognized on Friday with the renaming of the George Kiriyama Adult School in Gardena, formerly the Gardena-Carson Community Adult School.
“The thousands of students who went through the Gardena Adult school will remember him because he used to walk the campus every night,” said his wife, Iku Kiriyama. “He was in a position where the students felt really close to him. He wasn’t one who just sat in an office and maybe once in their lifetime here, they would see him. They saw him every night. Because of that, he wasn’t Mr. Kiriyama, he was George.”
Kiriyama, who passed away in 2005, served as an assistant principal and principal of the Gardena-Carson Community Adult School. He was elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District board in 1995 and served until 1999, representing District 7, which encompasses south Los Angeles County, including Gardena, Carson and San Pedro.
The Kiriyama Adult School has a total enrollment of more than 10,000 students, serving the communities of Gardena and Carson, providing courses in career technical training, English as a second language and GED certification.
Ed Morris, who heads the LAUSD Division of Adult and Career Education, said that the school renaming was a fitting tribute to Kiriyama, who was a passionate advocate for adult education. He pointed out that in District 7 there are areas where the poverty rate is 100 percent.
“Those children will live in poverty in every day of every month, unless we do something to raise the standard of living of the family, and it’s through adult education that that is achieved,” said Morris. “George was a lifelong proponent of adult education, family education and raising the standard of the families of the district.”
Former LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines was among the dignitaries on hand for the ceremony. Other officials in attendance included Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County), Gardena City Councilmember Ron Ikejiri, and Dr. Richard Vladovic, LAUSD District 7 board member. Members of the Japanese American Korean War Veterans also attended to pay tribute to Kiriyama, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.