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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Historical atrium in office commemorates  impactful parent

Meher Bhatnagar
The atrium lies at the center of the office, allowing sunlight in through the roof.

Though subtle, elements of the school’s history can be seen throughout the campus, from buildings to various plaques. 

One of these pieces of history is located at the center of its main office: a Japanese-inspired glass atrium that contains greenery and other traditional features such as fountains, vines, flowers and a miniature Japanese garden bridge at the center. 

This atrium was built to honor Dr. Gordon Iwanaga, parent of alumnus Ryan Iwanaga, Class of 1984 . Credited with organizing the first Graduation Night and noted as a very active member of the Sports Boosters club, Dr. Iwanga was among the most impactful parents at Saratoga.

“After my father died, the community of Saratoga was amazing. They rallied around my family and really looked after me and my mom,” Ryan said. “I think the support was a result of how much he had contributed to and believed in our school.”

The atrium was built in 1990 as a way to represent Dr. Iwanaga’s passion for gardening and nature within the school. 

Dr. Iwanaga’s presence in the Saratoga community not only resulted in the construction of the atrium dedicated to his legacy, but also a scholarship fund for graduating seniors established in his honor, which ran until 2015. 

The scholarship called for a well-rounded student who not only showed great academic achievements, but overall contributions to the community through volunteering, school activities and sports.

Ryan said that his father truly valued his family as well as the Saratoga community, driving him to become more involved in the school’s activities. Dr. Iwanaga’s legacy runs through the community, and according to Ryan, it still lives within the walls of the school.

 “I think the atrium is a good reminder for me of my father’s spirit. He was very devoted to the town of Saratoga and to the high school itself,” Ryan said.

As a Japanese-American family in California, the Iwanaga ancestry remained close to previous generations as a result of experiencing the internment camps in the 1940s. Ryan devotes his father’s passion for his community to their upbringing in tightly-knit family structures. 

Following Dr. Iwanaga’s death, the community of Saratoga was actively involved in making his family feel at peace with the loss. Beyond the establishment of the scholarship, the school’s maintenance crew has been taking care of the garden and over the past year, Principal Secretary Allison Montgomery has taken up that job as her own.

This stems from her passion for all things nature, as her desk consists of orchids placed sporadically on her counter and various plants to keep greenery around her at all times.

“I really love nature and I spend most of my time looking through the glass surrounding the atrium,” Montgomery said. “When I noticed that it needed a little care, I decided to take it upon myself to get it fixed up a bit.” 

Montgomery has worked alongside the custodians to water flowers, repaint the deck and keep everything within the atrium in order.

Office workers, including Montgomery, are currently discussing potential upgrades to add more ambiance to the garden. 

“I think recently we have been wanting to get a chair or a small cafe set out there, where we can take a little break in the middle of the day when the weather gets warmer,” Montgomery said. “Adding a new trellis would also be nice. I am artistic by nature and I think creating an environment that’s beautiful to look at will be beneficial to everyone.”

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