Roosevelt High School has served the community of Boyle Heights since 1924. That community has changed a great deal since its founding.
When students at the school learned of the injustices suffered by Japanese-American families at the hands of the government and community during the 1940's, they decided to do something about it. They designed and constructed a Japanese garden on the school grounds as a tribute to the Japanese-American students from the high school removed from their homes and interned during World War II. The story became even more interesting when it was discovered that a Japanese garden had been planted by Japanese-American students on the same site over 50 years before.
As part of the process of creating the garden and a curriculum that emphasizes service learning, the students researched the history of the internment. They contacted some of the Japanese-American students who had created the original garden, asking for advice, stories and design information. The new garden was planted on the same site as the original, which had been destroyed by members of the community after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The project grew to include students, Japanese-American alumna and members of the community, all contributing time and money to the project.
The garden was dedicated on May 6, 1996 as part of a ceremony granting honorary high school diplomas to the Japanese-American students interned before they could graduate. While this East L.A. community is mostly Latino today, the garden is a tribute to both the Japanese-American community of Los Angeles and the hope of overcoming racial tensions with which the community struggles today.
In this wide landscape
I see no cherry blossoms
And no crimson leaves --
Evening in autumn over
A straw-thatched hut by the bay.