Congratulations to Dr. Sammy Lee and his new school!
I just came back from a very fun and moving ribbon cutting ceremony honoring two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Dr. Sammy Lee as the inspiration behind the newly opened “Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Science Magnet Elementary School” in Los Angeles, CA. The school was created to promote a focus on medical and health science for elementary school students and to honor Dr. Lee’s commitment to overcoming discrimination and never giving up on your dreams. Dr. Lee won two Gold Medals and one Bronze Medal in diving at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. But as a boy growing up in California, he was not allowed to swim in his town’s public swimming pool because of the color of his skin. Dr. Lee not only overcame that racial discrimination by winning two Gold Medals at the Olympics, but he achieved his father’s dream of becoming a doctor as well. His hard work ethic, persistence, and dignity against discrimination have made him an iconic role model for the Asian American community. Dr. Lee was the subject of my first children’s picture book, SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY (Lee & Low Books 2005).
I was honored to be included in the ribbon cutting ceremony as the speaker to introduce Dr. Lee. Here’s a picture of us before the ceremony…
(Please keep reading after the jump for more details and pictures on today’s school opening ceremony!)
The ceremony included a wonderful Open House featuring student artwork and class assignments in the fields of medical and health science. Some of the projects included recreating the beautiful illustrations by artist Dom Lee from the book:
Students and teachers also proudly displayed their class science notebooks and assignments on labeling the correct parts of the brain (do YOU remember where your cerebellum is?) and all the bones in the human skeleton. Look at these future doctors of America!
The students all wore these cool T-shirts with the school name in front and either inspirational words or scientific terms in the back:
My favorite T-shirts were the ones that said GENOME. LOL!
The ribbon cutting ceremony was held outside. A group of adorable kindergarten and first grade students performed a song that named all the bones in our body. It was so impressive to hear these kids chant “Clavicle!” and “Femur!” We then had an official Presentation of Colors by the Los Angeles School Police Department Honor Guard. The main speakers included: Lorena Padilla-Melendez (Director of the LAUSD Facilities Services Division), Monica Garcia (Board Member of District 2 with the LAUSD Board of Education), The Honorable John A. Perez (Speaker of the Assembly 53rd Assembly, District California State Assembly), The Honorable Yeon-sung Shin (Consul General, Republic of Korea in Los Angeles), Mark Hovatter (Chief Facilities Executive/LAUSD), Dr. Chiae Byun-Kitayama (Instructional Director, Educational Service Center-East, LAUSD), Dr. Helen Kim (Principal of the new Dr. Sammy Lee School), Maria Cabildo (member, LAUSD School Construction Band Citizens’ Oversight Committee), and Ana Alegria (who represented the students’ parents).
I then had the honor of giving a brief speech before introducing Dr. Sammy Lee to the audience. He gave some good advice for the students and made the adults laugh with his jokes. (Dr. Lee is famous for his jovial personality and sense of humor – he is ALWAYS cracking jokes!)
Dr. Lee and several students then performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting to celebrate the official opening of the Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Science Magnet Elementary School in Los Angeles. Currently there are about 400 students enrolled in the school.
The students closed the ceremony with a rousing – and totally ADORABLE – performance of the Korean singer Psy’s huge viral video hit, “GANGNAM STYLE.” LOL!
I stayed to sign books at the reception afterwards… It was such a pleasure to meet the administration, teachers and students of the new Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Science Magnet Elementary School! Thank you for the wonderful ceremony!
And here is an article and photo from THE KOREA TIMES about the event:
For more information on Dr. Sammy Lee’s life, you can check out my book, SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY (Lee & Low Books 2005) here: http://paulayoo.com/books-sixteen.html
For more information on the other wonderful multicultural children’s books (including bilingual Spanish books) at my publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, please visit their website here: http://www.leeandlow.com You can also follow them on TWITTER: @leeandlow
Thanks for reading today’s blog. I hope the pictures made you feel like you were at the ceremony, too! I leave you with the advice Dr. Sammy Lee’s father always told him: “… you can achieve anything if you set your heart to it.”
And as always, HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!