NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — A North Highlands man reached out to CBS13 with concerns over the name of his kid’s school, Kohler School. The campus has been around for decades, but some worry its name could be connected to a dark time in U.S. history.
Kelvin Adams’ four kids attended Kohler School in Sacramento’s North Highlands neighborhood. Despite his family’s history here, he thinks the name should be changed.
Kohler School is located in the area of what once was Camp Kohler, a World War II-era military base. Today only a fraction of the land is still owned by the government, but it’s what happened at the site in 1942 that has some concerned.
Between May and June of that year, the site was a detention center for Japanese Americans that were forced into internment camps.
The facility is named after Lieutenant Fredrick Kohler, a signal corps officer who died in a March 1942 plane crash. It turns out the camp was not named after Kohler until July, about two weeks after the last Japanese American left the camp.
During the time they were detained on the property, it was known as the “Sacramento” or “Walerga” Assembly Center, according to Sacramento’s Japanese American Citizen’s League.
Some Japanese Americans who were interned during the war actually stayed at Camp Kohler after they were released, until they could find permanent housing.
Today, some parents are surprised to hear about the history of the area.
Courtney Ragali’s son is a first-grader at the school.
“I have no idea what Kohler came from,” Ragali said. “Kohler school’s been around for as long as I’ve known and it’s sad that people would bring that up all of a sudden, I don’t think they should have to change the name of the school.”
Adams still says the name should be changed.
“There’s more people worthy of being honored by the name then a camp like that, it’s just not tasteful,” Adams.
It’s a history lesson about one of the country’s darkest moments with a local connection that is in danger of being forgotten as decades pass.