Clovis Unified School District’s next elementary school, which opens in August of 2024 at Fowler and McKinley avenues, will bear the name Satoshi Hirayama Elementary in honor of a long-time Clovis Unified teacher and leader, and ground-breaking Japanese American.
Hirayama, who retired in 1991 and passed away in 2021, represents those educators who work in the classroom, those who lead schools and departments, and the district’s classified staff whom he worked with as a human resources leader under founding Superintendent Floyd “Doc” Buchanan. He was a teacher at Clovis High School, the first principal of Gateway High School, and devoted a large part of his career to helping disenfranchised students overcome challenges and excel.
As a Japanese American who was interned during WWII and overcame that challenge to excel academically and athletically, Hirayama is an example of perseverance. Hirayama was drafted into the MLB St. Louis Browns after being a highly successful student athlete at Fresno State University, only to put his career on hold to serve the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He then went on to become the first Japanese American to play in Japan’s professional baseball league. The naming of the school after Mr. Hirayama also celebrates the important role the Japanese community has played in the Central Valley. After discussion during the regular meeting, the Board voted on the school’s naming during a special meeting that also occurred in conjunction with the March 15, 2023 meeting.