Gift of $500,000 from Kim Family Supports UCLA Lab School Music Programs

C.J. and Kay Kim gather with family members in front of Classroom 11 to celebrate the couple’s gift to the UCLA Lab School music program. The classroom was renamed in honor of C.J.’s late parents, Dae Yon and Jung Won Kim, to commemorate the gift.

UCLA Lab School students, staff, and faculty gathered in the school’s Classroom 11 in January to honor and celebrate C.J. Kim and his wife, Kay, for their gift of $500,000 over the next five years in support of the school’s music program. The celebration included unveiling of the naming of the classroom in honor of C.J.’s parents, Dae Yon and Jung Won Kim.

C.J. and Kay, whose daughter, Robyn (’89), attended what was then known as UES, said they wanted to donate to UCLA Lab School because of the deep and lasting impact it has had on her life.

“It was the best school she ever went to,” C.J. said. “She loved reading and writing and became really good at it because of UES.” Robyn and her husband and many members of the Kims’ extended family also attended the event.

The program for honoring the gift included all the children from Classrooms 11 and 12, about 50 in all, singing several songs. The Primary students, ages 6 to 8, opened with Randy Newman’s You’ve Got a Friend in Me, and closed with 3 Little Birds, by Bob Marley.

Principal Norma Silva and Music Demonstration Teacher Alanah Ntzouras thanked the Kims for their gift and spoke about the lasting impact it will have on the school’s music program.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude to the Kim family for their generosity,” Silva said. “This gift will support our ability to inspire our students in learning about and appreciating music, as well as help us show the deep and important ways that music can enhance learning by helping children understand people and cultures and express ideas.”

One example of that work, said Silva, is the Voices for Action Choir, a social justice project inspired by the children’s wish to help people in Puerto Rico affected by the 2017 hurricanes. Ntzouras leads the newly formed choir comprised of students, faculty, staff, and parents from the school.

C.J. Kim (center) speaks to the children of Rooms 11 and 12 as members of his family and Music Demonstration Teacher Alanah Ntzouras (left) and Principal Norma Silva (right) listen in.

C.J. Kim spoke directly to the children about his family. He and his wife are both from Korea, and C.J.’s parents came to the U.S. when he was young. His father led a prominent Korean American service organization started during the period Japan occupied Korea. C.J. also shared fond memories from his childhood in Seoul, telling the children about how he and his brother and father caught fish using their bare hands, getting wet in the lake and being latched on to by leeches.

Sadly, Dae Yon and Jung Won Kim both passed away when they were in their 40s. Being able to honor their memory through giving to music and naming a classroom at UCLA Lab School is especially meaningful for C.J. not only because he lost his parents at a relatively young age, but also because of his family’s deep connection to education, he said.

“My wife, Kay, and I were searching for a way to show our gratitude to my parents,” he noted. “Considering that my father was a high school teacher, his father (my paternal grandfather) was a high school principal, and my maternal grandfather was the founding principal at Seoul National University’s Elementary School, we decided a gift to UCLA Lab School, for the development of music education programs, would be a fitting way to honor my parents.”