Chula Vista names school after Japanese-American

Posted at 6:51 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 09:49:49-04

Chula Vista will have 46 elementary schools by 2017. The Chula Vista Elementary School District recently unveiled plans for their 46th school as well as a name honoring a Japanese-American resident who made Chula Vista his home for decades.

Ground is expected to be broken on Saburo Muraoka Elementary School in Otay Ranch June 1. The school is expected to be completed by July of 2017.

RELATED: View a rendering of the school, courtesy of school district officials.

“A lot of planning goes into school site planning and development,” said District Spokesman Anthony Millican.

The school is named after a Japanese-American farmer who cultivated crops in Chula Vista before being taken to a Japanese internment camp in Texas during World War II. Saburo Muraoka returned with his family after the war and rebuilt his life and became a pillar in the community.

“I was elated that he got it but I was elated for the whole Japanese community,” said Ken Muraoka, who petitioned the school board to name the new school after his grandfather. The Muraoka family still owns properties in the South Bay city and manages the Palace Garden Mobile Home Park.

Muraoka died in 1983 but not before imparting wisdom to his family and his son Roy Muraoka.

“You can take away my job or my way of farming,” recounted Roy Muraoka of their time in the internment camp. “But you can’t take away what’s in my head.”

The Muraokas returned to the property they owned in Chula Vista.

“All his equipment was gone,” said Ken Muraoka. “All his farming equipment had been stolen or taken.”

However, the family made it work and still calls Chula Vista home today. They were honored when the CVESD named the planned $48-million school after their patriarch.

“I think he deserved it,” said Roy Muraoka.

Saburo Muraoka Elementary will be a two-story modern school just south of Otay Ranch High School on Chula Vista’s southeastern side.

Millican said it is one of 11 projected schools for the district as Chula Vista continues to grow east. The school district has already identified all 11 properties.

RELATED: View a rendering of the school, courtesy of school district officials.