Young Oak Kim Academy

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A middle school within the Los Angeles Unified School District, Local District 4. It was established in 2009 as the only middle school in the LAUSD to practice single-sex education (different curricula and learning environments for girls and boys).

YOKA is named in honor of Colonel Young-Oak Kim, the first Asian-American colonel to lead a US battalion in war. It is LA’s first middle school, and the third school overall, named for a Korean.

Located near the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, it is part of a multi-use site that includes an apartment building, retail space, and eating establishments. The school was designed to alleviate overcrowding at Berendo and Virgil middle schools.

Young Oak Kim opened on September 9, 2009, with an enrollment capacity of 800 students in grades 6 through 8. YOKA’s principal is Edward Colacion. The school’s mascot is the dragon.

Teachers at YOKA assign the girls a lot of collaborative projects because research shows that adolescent girls thrive in groups. There’s also an emphasis on math, science and technology because girls traditionally do not pursue these fields as much as boys do.

The boys’ classes incorporate “brain breaks” that allow the students time to digest the lesson they’ve just been taught. Amplifiers have been installed in the boys’ classrooms based on studies showing that adolescent boys have a less developed sense of hearing than adolescent girls.