The education section of Amache consisted of nursery schools, a kindergarten school, an elementary school, a junior high school, a high school, and an adult school. The courses of study which were covered included industrial arts, fine arts, social science, mathematics, science, physical education, and vocational education. Classes, except for the high school, were taught in remodeled barrack-style buildings. The high school building which cost $135,000 to build had 24 classrooms, a gymnasium-auditorium, a library, agricultural shops, homemaking rooms, and offices. There was also 650 acres devoted to training in vocational agriculture. The school staff was composed of three principals, a superintendent, fifty-one WRA teachers, and forty-four evacuee assistant teacher.
The proposed construction of three school buildings at Amache created a public uproar. The contracts to build three school buildings was awarded to the R.E. Rippe Construction Company of South Pasadena, CA, in the amount of $308, 498 (Holsinger 1960: 60). Public opinion immediately turned against the WRA due to the high cost of the buildings in relation to the amount of money currently being spent for local Colorado schools. Due to public pressure the WRA canceled the work to build additional school buildings. "Though the high school was allowed to be finished, the attacks of both the press and the public only served to hamper the process of relocation in Colorado for the WRA in the months ahead" (Holsinger 1960: 61).
Despite the evacuation process and the initial controversy surrounding the new high school, students flourished. During the 1943 graduating class commencement Marion Konishi, the valedictorian, spoke of the following:
One and a half years ago, I knew only one America, an America that gave me an equal chance in the struggle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If I were asked then - - What does America mean to you? - - I would have answered without any hesitation and with all sincerity that America means freedom, equality, security, and justice.
The other night while I was preparing for this speech, I asked myself the same question - - What does America mean to you? I hesitated. I was not sure of the answer. I wondered if America still means and will mean freedom, security and justice when some of its citizens were segregated, discriminated against and treated so unfairly. I knew I was not the only American seeking an answer.
Then I remembered the old saying - - "All of the answers for the future will be found in the past for all men." So unmindful of the searchlights reflecting in my window, I sat down and tried to recall all of the things that were taught to me in my history, sociology and American life classes. This is what I remembered . . .
Can we, the graduating class of Amache Senior High School, still believe that America means freedom, equality, security, and justice? Do I believe this? Do my classmates believe this?
Yes, we believe with all our hearts. Because in that faith, in that hope, is my future, our future, and the world's future" (quoted in Lurie 1990: 94-95).
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