El Camino celebrates friendship with the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival


Photo credit: Karla Henry

The sound of the beating drums echoed throughout campus as the audience clapped along.

El Camino opened the spring season with the 17th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Wednesday, April 5.

The festival is named in honor of Nadine Ishitani Hata who was the former Vice President of Academic Affairs at El Camino.

Donald Hata the husband of Nadien said she died of breast cancer in 2005.

“We named the Cherry Blossom Festival after her because she was instrumental in getting the cherry trees through the help of American Honda,” Dr. Donald Hata said.

During the festival there was music played by the Taiko Center of Los Angeles and poetry recited by El Camino students from professor Rhea Lewitzki’s class.

“It’s a mixture of traditional and modern music from Japan and the United States,” Shih Wei Willie Wu, artistic director of the Taiko group said.

ECC Cherry Blossom Festival.JPG
Photo credit: Karla Henry

According to Wu, he has been apart of the Cherry Blossom Festival since it started here at EC.

In between performances by the Taiko group, there were speeches by president Dena Maloney, Dr. Donald Hata, and students reciting their poems.

Once the music stops, Maloney welcomes the audience and Donald Hata.

Hata said there is a scholarship in Nadine’s name and it gives a $1,000 scholarship for students with a health and science major.

Meanwhile, the beat of the drums continue.

ECC Cherry Blossom Festival.JPG
Photo credit: Karla Henry

“There are nine students reciting Haiku poetry in the festival,” Rhea Lewitzki said. “It’s exciting to be teaching this spring during the Cherry Blossom Festival.”

Each student had the chance to recite the poems they had created for the event.

“The people who were passing by just seemed to immediately get engaged in by the drum and the poetry and i thought it was a great turn out,” Anbiya Smith, biology major and student who recited her poem, said.

More beats of the drum and a thank you from Debra Breckheimer from the Humanities Division to close the festival.

“I think it’s a great tribute,” Hata said.

ECC Cherry Blossom Festival.JPG
Photo credit: Karla Henry