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Tribute to Class of 2017

One of the largest classes in history is about to enter the gates at South Pasadena High, “and while there are more freshmen coming than departing seniors, they will have a hard time filling the void left by this year’s Class of 2017,” praised SPHS Principal Janet Anderson of the latest graduating class. “This year’s graduates have shown a lot of heart and perseverance in everything they do, from athletics and academics. It has been done at a very high level.”

Approximately 400 freshmen will get their taste of high school starting in August while Anderson wished 329 South Pasadena High graduates well last week as they embarked to college and the business world.

On the final day of school a week ago, some SPHS graduates were asked about their best memories as Tigers and what advice they would give to an incoming freshman. Here is what they had to say:

Adianna Paul, 17

Cal State Chico

At a young age, Adrianna Paul will always remember “people don’t always have the same opinions, values or beliefs, but you have to respect them either way,” she said.

Her advice to an incoming freshman is to take Economics, one of the more demanding academic requirements, in summer school. She noted the course study is only six weeks, compared to eight months. Paul said it’s the best way to get past the rigor of the difficult class.

 

Nadira Jamerson, 18

Howard University

For Nadira Jamerson, South Pasadena High has instilled a good work ethic, noting that it has readied her for the challenges of college.

Her advice to an incoming freshman is to make sure “grades come first ahead of friends because you’re going to want to go to college more than to hang out,” she said.

 

Dzelila Maslesa, 17

Pasadena City College

Dzelila Masesa will take away the memory of some “amazing events,” reflecting on Color Day and the recent prom. She’ll miss hanging out with friends and extracurricular activities outside of school. “The teachers were all very good this year, some of the best I’ve ever had,” said Maslesa, noting that her recommendation to an incoming freshman would be not to procrastinate. “Do everything in a timely manner,” she said. “Focus on your grades, but also take time to do some extracurricular (projects) for your college applications.”

 

Kendrick Chen, 18

Stanford

Kendrick Chen is going to miss walking out of class for brunch or lunch and greeting his friends. “That’s something that is limited to high school, because in college you don’t have experiences like that,” said Chen. “I like congregating at one place at one time in high school, and I’ll never have that again. It’s really special, and I’m sad I won’t have that.”

For an incoming freshman, Chen recommends working on projects in a group as opposed to independently. “A lot of people think, ‘I can just do this myself, I don’t need help.’ But asking for help is always the best option.

 

Kate Kutzer, 18

Duke University

A top student athlete, Kate Kutzer plans on competing on the Duke University track team next year. “I’m going to remember all the traditions here, Color Day, singing the alma mater, just all the fun, crazy things we do here,” she said, followed by a laugh.

Her advice to an incoming freshman: “Don’t be afraid to try something you have no idea about,” she said. “I wish I had tried other things and taken advantage of other opportunities that are offered here. Join clubs, meet new friends and don’t be afraid to walk up to a random person and say ‘hi’ to them. Talk to your teachers, get to know the faculty and just enjoy yourself.”

 

Faye Witherall, 18

USC

Some of Faye Witherall’s favorite memories at South Pasadena High School include serving as editor on the Tiger newspaper, a member of the virtual business team and a multitude of other organization on and off the campus.

During club rush in the fall, Witherall encourages incoming freshmen to “sign up for a bunch of them, go to all the meetings, find one or two that you like and stick with them.”

 

Molly Feldmeth, 17

Florida International University

Molly Feldmeth will be attending Florida International University, recognized as one of the top volleyball players to come out of South Pasadena High. Feldmeth has made lasting friendships she’ll keep for a lifetime. “I’ve made some really good friends over the years,” she said. “They’ve always been there for me through thick and thin. I don’t think I’d get that at any other school.”

Her recommendation for those entering SPHS in the fall: “Find friends who have the best interest for you,” she said. “If you find good friends in your freshman year, you have a good experience at SPHS.”

 

Charlotte Emerson, 17

Yale University

Charlotte Emerson credited the teachers who influenced her as one of her best memories of SPHS. “I think I’ve grown as a person, looking up at these amazing mentors who have so much knowledge to share.”

Emerson likes the idea of growing up in a tight-knit community where kids grow up together, going through the school system and graduating from high school together. Receiving her diploma with fellow grads she attended first grade with “is pretty special,” she said.

Like others, Emerson encouraged incoming freshmen to take advantage of everything South Pasadena High has to offer.

 

Adam Arellano, 18

CSU Channel Islands

Adam Arellano says he will never forget those who went to battle with him over the years on the football field. The Tigers’ quarterback during the 2016 season says he will “always have a place in his heart for football. I got nothing but great memories and made some wonderful friendships. They’re my brothers.”

For those just coming into the school, Arellano says, “Don’t take anything for granted. Live high school to the fullest. It’s a fast four years. Sign up for everything you possibly can because it will make your time here great.”

 

Cole Page, 18

University of Tennessee

Cole Page, a student trainer in his senior year, says he will miss South Pasadena High’s athletics program. “I have a lot of great memories working with the sports programs,” said page.

His advice to an incoming freshman would be to “enjoy high school while it lasts because it definitely goes faster than you think,” he said.

 

Juliana Tom, 17

U.C. Riverside

Juliana Tom played on the SPHS girls’ basketball team throughout her four years on campus. “I’m definitely going to miss the people I met through basketball.” Tom said it will be difficult to say good by to Sophia Lopez, the school’s commissioner general, whom she’s known since the 5th grade. “I have really enjoyed spending time with her,” noted Tom.

Her recommendation for an incoming freshman is “to unapologetically be yourself,” she said. “It’s really important to be true to who you are.”

 

Ryan Nakamura, 18

University of San Francisco

“Just the overall connection I felt with my fellow friends and faculty,” said Nakamura, when asked what he will miss about South Pasadena High School. “It has really been a close-knit network here. We’re not a big school system, so when you’re in a small town like South Pasadena, you kind of know each other, so everyone is like family in a sense.”

For freshmen just coming onto the South Pas High campus, Nakamura suggests “being open-minded, take advantage of all that the school has to offer,” he explained. “There are a lot of different programs, a variety of clubs that will let you interact with the community. It will help to give you a sense of direction for what you want to do in high school.”

 

Kelsey Sedgwick, 17

Cal State Northridge

Kelsey Sedgwick moved to South Pasadena from Iowa in the middle of her sophomore year and remembers meeting friends in her first week. “The overall acceptance of everyone was great,” she recalls, urging incoming freshmen to “enjoy your time here.”

 

Janica Crisostomo, 17

San Diego State University

Janica Crisostomo will miss those she competed with on the high school swimming and volleyball teams “and hanging out with my friends at lunch,” she said.

She encourages incoming freshmen to be “social, make friends from all grades and don’t be scared of seniors. Work hard in your classes because you’ll regret it as a senior if you don’t.”

Congressman Adam Schiff Pays Visit to South Pasadena

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, came to South Pasadena last Saturday as a guest of Joe and Ellen Daigle. Well attended, more than 100 people listened to the congressman at the couple’s home as he addressed a multiple of topics. Much of his talk concentrated on President Donald Trump, whom he has been an outspoken critic.

Left to right, are Pasadena Vice Mayor John J. Kennedy, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, host Elen Daigle, Fmr. U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and State Senator Anthony Portantino

State Senator Anthony Portantino was also in attendance at Saturday’s event and praised Schiff for his strong leadership in the City of South Pasadena over the years, especially when Schiff’s 28th District Congressional District represented the city. Portantino stressed that, like him, Schiff has been an opponent of the 710 Freeway tunnel and helped create the original Metro Gold Line Construction Authority, which brought light rail to South Pasadena in 2003.

In addition, Schiff and Portantino, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti and former Congresswoman Diane Watson made remarks on Saturday. Above, from left, are Pasadena City Councilman and Vice Mayor John J. Kennedy, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, host Ellen Daigle, former Congresswoman Diane Watson, Congressman Adam Schiff and State Senator Anthony Portantino. Below, Schiff addresses the large crowd. Photos by Henk Friezer

Everything You Need to Know About 4th of July in South Pas

The Festival of Balloons committee is busy preparing for a full day of festivities in South Pasadena. Here is what you need to know about Independence Day as you pull out the red, white and blue for the big day in town.

2017 Fourth of July Festival of Balloons

“Freedom on the Road. Celebrating Route 66.”

The City of South Pasadena is celebrating its 36th annual Festival of Balloons.

Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast

Location: South Pasadena Fire Station, 817 Mound Avenue (enter on Hope Street, between Fremont Avenue and Mound Avenue)

Time: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Pancake Breakfast Tickets, Day of: $8 per per June 20): $8 per person, kids under 6 years old eat for free. Presale locations:

– Re-Imagine Your Home, 1518 Mission Street

– The Moo on Mission, 1006 Mission Street

– South Pasadena Fire Station, 817 Mound Avenue

– South Pasadena Senior Center, 1102 Oxley Street

– Bristol Farms, 606 Fair Oaks Avenue

– Dinosaur Farm, 1510 Mission Street

– Mission Framing, 1501 Mission Street

– UPS Store, 1107 Fair Oaks Avenue

– South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA, 1605 Garfield Avenue

Opening Ceremony

Location: South Pasadena Library Community Room – lawn, 1115 El Centro Street

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Parade

Location: Mission Street, from Diamond Avenue to Garfield Park

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Parade Entry: Download the Parade Registration packet (please follow registration submission instructions in the packet).

Celebration at Garfield Park

Location: Garfield Park, 1750 Mission Street

Time: Noon to 4 p.m.

Details: Games, food, and activities

Fireworks Show

Location: South Pasadena High School, 1401 Fremont Avenue.

Time: 9 p.m. (Gates open at 5:30 p.m.)

Details: Food vendors will be on site at the show. Pets are not allowed

– Stadium – Alcohol and glass bottles are not allowed in the stadium.

– Field – Only water is permitted on the field, no food. Rounded bottom chairs only on the field (narrow legs/feet of camping chairs will damage the turf).

Fireworks Tickets: Day of – $12 per person at the gate orr $10 per person, at the pancake breakfast and Garfield Park in the afternoon. Kids under 3 years old are free.

Fireworks Tickets, Presale: $10 per person. Kids under 3 years old are free. Presale locations:

– South Pasadena Fire Station, 817 Mound Avenue

– South Pasadena Senior Center, 1102 Oxley Street

– Bristol Farms, 606 Fair Oaks Avenue

– Dinosaur Farm, 1510 Mission Street

– Mission Framing, 1501 Mission Street

– Re-Imagine Your Home, 1518 Mission Street

– The Moo on Mission, 1006 Mission Street

– UPS Store, 1107 Fair Oaks Avenue

– South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA, 1605 Garfield Avenue

– Charlie’s Coffee House, 266 Monterey Roa

New Board Members Installed at PTA Council Meeting

The South Pasadena Parent Teacher Association Council met to install new executive board members on Wednesday, May 31. Grace Kung, who served as Monterey Hills Elementary School PTA President during the 2016-17 term, took over as PTA Council president from Ruby Kalra.

Other elected officers for the 2017-18 term include Executive Vice President Leslie Lehman, First Vice President of Programs and Directory Laura Morales, Second Vice President of Membership Jane Washburn, Third Vice President of Leadership Chris Holmes, Treasurer Nidhi Shah, Recording Secretary Charlotte Bourke, Historian Marta Hernandez, Corresponding Secretary Lisa Rosenberg, and Auditor Lauren Schwab.

At the meeting, SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz shared with the council the results of a recent city survey regarding the parcel tax that is expiring in June of 2018. The results showed community support for the tax’s renewal. The parcel tax renewal will be discussed at the next school board meeting on June 13. Superintendent Yantz also updated the council on various school improvement projects that are scheduled to get underway in the upcoming months.

One of these projects is to build a new roof and install new air conditioning units at Marengo Elementary. Set to begin on June 12, construction will be finished by the end of summer.

The next project Yantz discussed was the creation of six classrooms and four science labs at the high school in an area that currently contains tennis courts and mathematics classrooms. This project will not be completed until the end of 2018, and will begin this summer with the installation of six portable classrooms on the recreation field adjacent to the tennis courts.

The large and expensive project will be funded by the 98 million dollar Measure SP bond that was passed in 2016.

Discussions concerning how to redesign the old middle school gym have also begun. After meeting recently with the District Arts Committee to discuss plans for the new design, Superintendent Yantz announced to the PTA Council that the primary goal is to create a “functional space.”

The fourth and final project discussed was the renovation of the middle school field and hard courts.

As to why this project was chosen, the superintendent said, “We wanted to do something that the community can see and use now.” This project will begin construction this coming fall.

Before the PTA Council meeting was adjourned, six board members in addition to the elected executive board members were appointed by Ms. Kung to serve on the 2017-18 PTA Council. Karen Kano will serve as parliamentarian, Kathleen Lih as hospitality chair, Lullette Kaufman as Honorary Service Award chair, Sara Austin as SNC Chair, Adrian Gonzalez as ACTM chair, and Nina Rathbun as Legislative Chair. Ms. Kung has not yet appointed the Reflections Program chair.

Updating City’s General Plan and Specific Plan Moves into Summer

South Pasadena Interim City Manager Elaine Aguilar says the process for updating the City’s General Plan and Mission Street Specific Plan, nearing its sixth month of an approximately two-year process, is moving forward on schedule.

The City’s General Plan and Mission Street Specific Plan are the citizens’ “blueprint” for development, the vision for what they would like South Pasadena to become over the next five, 10, 15, 20 years.

Up to now, the public has submitted surveys with data studied by a consulting team as well as attended a series of focus group meetings, held evening workshops and Charrettes, which have focused on developing a physical vision for the future of the city.

Aguilar said the next stage of public engagement following the conclusion of the Charrette process in late April is set to begin.

Various focus groups will meet over the next two months to review draft documents relating to their areas of interest. City officials say vital public input during future meetings will become the building blocks for drafting the updated General Plan and the Specific Plan.

Drafts of both plans will be presented at a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the City Council in November. Both governmental bodies will then be asked to endorse the documents as a basis for the required Environmental Impact Report.

“Our consulting team are now in the process of developing individual policy and objectives for the different components of the general plan,” said Aguilar. “They have divided up the general plan into a number of sections that will come back for the public to review. I really like the title ‘Our Prosperous Community,’ which is our next focus group meeting. I really encourage the public to be in attendance for all the upcoming meetings.”

Aguilar calls the General Plan and Specific Plan update “an exciting process. It’s a great time for our community to reassess with the community what the vision for South Pasadena is in the future.”

South Pasadena Focus group meeting schedule:

  • Our Prosperous Community, June 29, 7 p.m., Senior Center,
1102 Oxley Street.
  • Our Natural Community & Our Healthy/Safe Community, July 13, 
7 p.m., Community Room, 1115 El Centro Street.
  • Our Active Community &
Our Creative Community, August 29, 7 p.m., Senior Center, 1102 Oxley Street.
  • CORE Group, October 10, 
7 p.m., Community Room, 1115 El Centro Street.

The date and time of the Planning Commission and City Council joint meeting will be announced at a later date.

SPHS Seniors Say Goodbye

There was a sense of sadness throughout the South Pasadena High School campus last Friday as students learned about the passing of the school’s longtime English teacher James Asher. The announcement fell on the same day as the annual Farewell Assembly, when seniors gather with the student body one last time. The event inside the school’s gymnasium featured performances from the pep squad, recognition of retiring teachers, and singing of the alma mater. The assembly was dedicated in memory of Jim Asher. The South Pasadena High School graduation ceremony is scheduled to begin Friday, June 9 at 5 p.m. Above, at the conclusion of the assembly, black and orange balloons fell on the seniors. Photo by Bill Glazier

For more Farewell Assembly photos, see page 12 of the June 9 edition of the South Pasadena Review!  

Phase One of Measure SP Bond Construction Projects Set to Begin

South Pasadena Unified School District construction projects paid for by the Measure SP Bond are set to begin later this month.

The inaugural renovation project at Marengo Elementary School, slated to begin June 12, includes a complete replacement of the shingle roofing – a need identified by an assessment and exacerbated by conditions experienced during recent rainstorms – and new HVAC units for the single-story buildings. The project kicks off the first of four phases of construction to be completed over the next 10 years as part of Measure SP.

“With the start of Measure SP construction, the community will begin seeing the future of South Pasadena schools,” said SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “Through extensive planning and research, we have identified facility projects that will meet the instructional needs of our students and will ensure that we are providing safe environments for 21st century learning and community use. We’re very excited about what’s in store for our students, their families and our staff.”

District officials say bond projects that begin during phase one should be complete by the end of 2020. In addition to the roofing and HVAC projects at Marengo, South Pasadena High School (SPHS) likely will see ground break on a new math and science building, with construction slated to begin in the winter of 2017.

The SPHS athletic and physical education complex also will be renovated during phase one with a new gymnasium floor, new gymnasium bleachers, outdoor/visitor-side bleachers, locker rooms, and new LED stadium lights. Included as part of these upgrades will be a new physical therapy/training room that will be used for the sports medicine program.

At South Pasadena Middle School (SPMS), the community will see construction of a field and hard court project starting in January of 2018. Designed for school and community use, the conceptual layout includes new tennis and basketball courts, a turf soccer field with cork infill and an asphalt running track around the perimeter, along with a new hard court play area and expanded grass field. The construction timeline is designed to move quickly so that the community at-large may begin to use the new facilities as soon as possible – likely by the summer of 2018.

Near the beginning of 2019, construction work on the SPMS old gym will begin. Community input and research drove the decision to repurpose the old gymnasium but keep the exterior intact. The interior space will be transformed into a visual and performing arts space along with a lab for the school’s robotics program. Lending planning foresight and artistic expertise, the South Pasadena District Arts Committee has been and will continue to be involved in the planning of instructional spaces within this new building. This project is expected to continue through 2019 with students beginning to use the space near the end of that year.

The planning process for all school construction projects requires approval from the Division of the State Architect (DSA) within the Department of General Services. This organization grants approvals to projects under its jurisdiction by looking at Title 24 compliance as well as requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, structural analysis, and environmental standards. DSA’s oversight for structural safety of school facilities is governed by the provisions of the Field Act contained in the California Education Code sections 17280, et. seq. for K-12. The District is working with SVA Architects on all planning and Balfour Beatty as construction manager for its bond projects.

Phases two, three and four of the Measure SP Bond construction will begin near the end of 2019, continue into 2025, and include major preservation and restoration of the historic middle school auditorium, replacement of all portable classrooms at the elementary schools and renovation of the District office. The SPHS auditorium building will be renovated with new lighting, sound equipment and air conditioning among other projects.

South Pasadena voters passed Measure SP in November 2016 by a three-to-one margin. The measure provides funds for campus improvements at all five of SPUSD’s schools.

SPPD Catch Vehicle Burglary Suspects In Alhmabra

South Pasadena Police Department issued a news release on Sunday, June 4 to notify the public that officers responded to a multi-unit apartment underground parking structure for two vehicle burglary investigations on the 100 block of Monterey Road on the morning of Saturday, June 3.

“The burglaries were found to have occurred during the early morning hours. Video surveillance was able to capture the suspect taking property from one of the victim’s vehicles and attempting to destroy other video cameras in the structure. Additional evidence was discovered, which led to a residence in Alhambra,” explained the news release.

Officers located the suspect vehicle, as well as the suspect, in Alhambra. Ryan Millard, 32, of Alhambra, was arrested for burglary, possession of burglary tools and vandalism. During the investigation, a third victim was also discovered.

Anyone with any additional information about this case may contact SPPD Detectives at 626-403-7280.

South Pasadena High School English Teacher James Asher Passes Away

Beloved longtime South Pasadena High School English teacher James Asher passed away Thursday night after being hospitalized earlier in the week.

The upsetting news swept across campus on a morning when emotions were already running high, as the school prepared to say goodbye to the class of 2017 at its annual Farewell Assembly.

2017-18 SPHS Commissioner of Assemblies Anders Keith and 2016-17 Commissioner Charlotte Emerson spoke to the crowd of students and teachers about Mr. Asher as the assembly was just beginning. “Mr. Asher was easily one of the kindest people on campus…He cared about teaching, but more than that he cared about his students. He cared about their intellectual journey and their personal growth. His bright smile and contagious spirit were not only influential to students, but also to teachers. The essence of Mr. Asher is uplifting,” said Keith, before asking for a moment of silence in Mr. Asher’s honor.

South Pasadena Principal Janet Anderson explained that Asher was hospitalized on Sunday, May 28. He had suffered a heart attack and was in a coma before passing away on June 1.

“It is with much sadness that we share information about the passing of our beloved teacher, faculty member, colleague, coach and friend Jim Asher,” said Anderson. “For 17 years, we have been honored to work alongside Jim in his role as high school English teacher and department chair.”

When news began to spread around campus last Friday morning about Asher’s death, Anderson met with his current students in the school’s library. Some, including senior Thomas Huff, found quiet corners of the campus, to grieve Asher’s loss. “It’s tough to hear about it because he seemed to enjoy life more than anyone. Losing someone who had such a huge influence on those at the school is terrible to see.”

Fellow senior Halie Muro said she will miss how Asher would interact with all students on campus. “He would give them words of wisdom,” she said, “and encouraged them to never give up and push on when you graduate. He always had a smile.”

Senior Sophia Lopez, who was in Asher’s AP literature class, said he had a “pure soul, so friendly, so nice. It’s a shame to see him leave, but he will be in our hearts forever. I just loved seeing him every day, and how passionate he was for teaching. He would compose his own music and share it with us. Mr. Asher is going to be deeply missed.”

The announcement of Asher’s death came as the school was preparing to present its annual Farewell Assembly, a school-wide celebration to honor the accomplishments of seniors as they look ahead to graduation day. “With the sad news, students quickly and skillfully changed their agenda for the day’s scheduled Farewell Assembly to include moving and impactful tributes to Mr. Asher,” said Anderson. “It allowed us all a time to come together as a school family to acknowledge our great loss.”

Anderson said she would be sharing more information about Asher with parents in the coming days. The principal added that counseling support is available to all students and staff at the high school.

Asher was serving as English department chair this year and taught AP Literature and English language development. His impact on SPHS, however, was felt far beyond his classroom. He coached tennis at the high school, wrote musicals that he shared with students and performed as a singer.

SPHS junior Brandon Yung didn’t know Asher personally, but heard from other students that “he was deeply involved in the community and a very dedicated teacher.”

Michael Gonzales, a graduate of South Pasadena High who now coaches water polo and is an interim teacher at the school, called Asher “one of the most generous, kind-hearted, warmest faculty members that I had. I always looked forward to walking into his classroom, not so much because of the class, but because of who Mr. Asher was. He was one of the most approachable people I ever met, both as a student and as a colleague. He was one of the first people who greeted me when I came back to South Pasadena High, both as a coach and substitute teacher.”

‘Booster Club’ Grabs Spotlight for City’s Entry in Rose Parade

Zooming down the roadway, a car full of animals is off to a tailgate party as depicted in South Pasadena’s entry in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Officials from the organization unveiled the new artwork this week as volunteers begin constructing what they hope will be another masterpiece in the long line of floats.

The theme of the New Year’s Day spectacle down Colorado Boulevard’s 5-1/2 mile route is “Making a Difference,” said Janet Benjamin, president of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

Fittingly, “Booster Club,” the name of the city’s float, “fits the overall theme well,” she said.

“Who makes more of a difference in a kid’s life than the Booster Club?” Benjamin asked.

Inside the classic vehicle are a lion, tiger, ostrich and a giraffe. A trailer, containing all the ingredients for a tailgate party, is hitched to the car. “Of course, we had to put a tiger in there because we are the home of the tigers,” said a smiling Benjamin.

Always colorfully decorated, the body of the vehicle on the city’s newest float is going to be covered in roses, with kidney beans used on the fenders. Melaleuca bark, and eucalyptus, silver leaf and a variety of other flowers and natural products will be use to complete the task.

Not hiding her enthusiasm, Benjamin said, “The roses on the car are going to be spectacular!”