33 Compete in Regional Finals : Torrance High Junior Tops History Competition

Ken Kuniyuki, a junior at Torrance High School, won the South Bay regional finals of a nationwide history, government and current events competition Saturday.

Thirty-three students from 11 area schools competed for 3 1/2 hours in the Citizen Bee event at the Hyatt Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport.

The question-and-answer session, one of a series of regional competitions held Saturday across Southern California, tested students’ knowledge of American government and history, geography, economics, culture and current events.

The Citizen Bee competition is sponsored by The Times, the Close Up Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to civic education, and Columbia Savings & Loan Co. This is the first year the event has been held in California.


Kuniyuki won $500 and a chance to participate in the state finals to be held next month in Los Angeles. He correctly answered the last history question of the day.

He was asked to give the last name of the man who was the first Republican candidate for the presidency, served as a union general, and explored the West and fought for California’s independence from Mexico. The correct answer was John C. Fremont.

Brian Yamasaki, a junior at Gardena High School, placed second and received $300.

David Samms Jr., a junior at San Pedro High, came in third and received $200.


Students participating in the event came from high schools in Bellflower, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Paramount, Redondo Beach, San Pedro and Torrance.

Winners of the statewide competition will receive a five-day expense-paid trip to the national finals in Washington, plus cash awards and college scholarships.

The Close Up Foundation said the competition was designed to combat “an alarming lack of knowledge about the basics of American history, government and public life” among high school students.