NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The Seattle Public School District is considering renaming a school after the late Al Sugiyama. The school, currently called South Lake High School, would be renamed Alan T. Sugiyama High School at South Lake, if approved.
Al Sugiyama’s daughters, Mari and Alysa, wrote in an email that they have visited the school and “believe it is exactly the kind of school our dad would have been proud to be a part of. Student focused, strong social justice mission, able to help students find their individual pathways to success, much like all the great work that our dad led at the Center for Career Alternatives.”
Sugiyama, the first Asian American on the Seattle School Board in the 1990s, died after a battle with cancer almost three years ago.
Bob Watt, a Sugiyama family friend, wrote the following letter in support of the renaming to Seattle School Superintendent Denise Juneau.
I write to you to convey my complete, enthusiastic support for renaming South Lake High School to “the Alan T. Sugiyama High School at South Lake.”
Alan (Al) Sugiyama, a lifelong Seattleite, died on January 2, 2017. Al was the first Asian American elected to the Seattle School board, he was the first Asian American to serve as chair of that board and he devoted his life to helping secure justice for people from every background. Al played a critical role in the success of the first education summit hosted by Mayor Norman B. Rice. That success resulted in the passage of the first Families and Education Levy, a legacy that lives on today.
Al’s list of accomplishments is long, starting with his activism to call attention to the issues of racism and inequity affecting Asian Americans when he was a college student. He founded the Center for Career Alternatives in 1979 and led that organization for 30 years. During that time, he helped thousands of people, from every racial and economic background, gain the skills they needed to land a job so that they could contribute to their families. That work and his devotion to helping young people is why putting his name on South Lake High School is so right. Or as Al would say so “right on to the right on.”
The leadership team at South Lake is enthusiastic in their support for this renaming. $15,000 has already been raised and is sitting in an account at the Alliance for Education to help defray any costs associated with the name change and as the beginning of a fund to help support the staff and students at South Lake. In my many years of civic involvement in Seattle, I have never seen a better way to honor the life and legacy of such a remarkable man. I urge you to approve this name change as soon as possible. Thank you.
The Sugiyama sisters are urging supporters to write more letters addressed to Juneau, and to email them directly to Dr. Joe Powell, the vice principal at South Lake. He will bundle up all the emails and letters and get them into the right hands at the district office. Powell’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also make a financial contribution to this effort. Checks can be made out to the Alan T. Sugiyama School fund at the Alliance for Education, at 509 Olive Way Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101. Online donations can be made at alliance4ed.org/connect-with-us/donate/school-account. Select “South Lake HS Renaming (Al Sugiyama) – 59102” in the “to Group” box and the gift will get to the right place at the Alliance for Education.
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