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Peaceful Protests Lift Lang to Role as ‘the Organizer’

South Pasadena’s London Lang singlehandedly launched the daily Black Lives Matter demonstration at the northeast corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Mission Street a few days after the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review

Merely the sound of his name summons up images of a rock star or a movie hero and, given the current trajectory of London Lang’s life, both destinations seem imminently plausible.
The now iconic beard makes him appear much older than his 21 years (“It has been growing in since I started high school”), and the 2017 graduate of South Pasadena High School has steadily become the face of recent local demonstrations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Lang was just 5 when the family moved to town. At SPHS, he participated in swimming, wood shop and drama, in which Lang said he enjoyed the freedom to dream up his own skits. That, and “I just like to act,” he said.

CIF Eager to Resume School Sports, but Safety Comes First

The CIF Southern Section sent a clear message last Friday, reiterating its adherence to the safety of students from member schools and a desire to get athletics up and running when possible.
Rob Wigod, CIF-SS Commissioner of Athletics, sent an update regarding fall sports and a guideline to help schools and districts preparing to bring back sports. The decision to resume physical activities ultimately falls on local school districts, boards of education and heads of private schools.

Missing Audit Complicates Decision on City Budget

The South Pasadena City Council remains divided on whether to move decisively on a proposed budget or take a more cautious approach as the deadline looms, and expects to consider direction from the Finance Commission after this week.
Though Karen Aceves, the city’s finance director, has prepared and presented a budget to both the commission and council already — a plan that includes $3.5 million in cuts in anticipation of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic — a variety of factors have given some council members pause.
Chief among those factors is the long-delayed audit of prior budgets that has forced planners to rely on estimates rather than final figures. Councilmen Richard Schneider and Michael Cacciotti both support approving a continuing appropriations budget in the meantime, which would essentially continue the current year’s operating budget and delay adoption of the new budget beyond its June 30 due date.
Schneider initially moved to place the continuing appropriations budget on a later meeting’s agenda.

SPARC Scholarships Reward Achievements in Arts

South Pasadena Arts Council awarded two scholarships this year to Sydney Davis Denny (left) and to Yurika Espinosa (right) to help encourage education in the arts.

By Haley Sawyer

When South Pasadena Arts Council founder Lissa Reynolds was a senior in high school, she received a scholarship that helped shape the rest of her life.

South Pasadena Board of Education Addresses ‘Racial Disparities’

By Steve Simmons

After agreeing to a general framework on Tuesday, the South Pasadena Unified School District indicated it will revisit the approved resolution that signaled support for black and other minority students in light of the nation’s conversation on race relations.
Amendments to be considered include a re-evaluation of the district’s disciplinary practices and changes to more directly show solidarity with and support of “black, brown and other students of color,” as requested by board member Suzie Abajian. The resolution, titled “Black Students Matter,” is in acknowledgement of nationwide demonstrations calling for structural reform following the death of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police officers, one of whom knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd died.
Indeed, board President Michele Kipke kicked off Tuesday’s meeting “in memory of George Floyd and all those who have lost their lives to anti-black senseless and horrific violence and racism” and ended it with a moment of silence.
The board next meets on June 25.
“We need a follow-up [meeting] to take our commitment to the next level with specific recommendations,” Abajian said.
During the meeting, Abajian added the amendment recommending the district “evaluate disciplining practices that disproportionately target black, brown and other students of color,” while board member Zahir Robb requested the wording be changed to “practices of discipline.” Additionally, board clerk Ruby Kalra suggested tweaking “safe environment” to “safe and welcoming environment.”
Crucially, Abajian said she couldn’t support the resolution, which initially used the language “all students” and not specifically “black, brown and other students of color” and also “didn’t lift up the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Board member Jon Primuth supported the resolution as being “tied to our core values,” but requested more time to review the amendments, which he said “commit us to policies and procedures,” and were not part of board members’ prepared packets for Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’m having trouble with how much of a deep dive we’re going into with not seeing the amendments in writing and no board discussion,” Primuth, an attorney, said.
Both Robb and Kalra expressed the urgent need to take advantage of this special time in history.
“I hate the idea of us waiting,” said Robb. “I think the community would appreciate a statement from the school board.”
“We need to get the basic statement out,” added Kalra. “Timeliness is important; we need to stand tall and respond to events that have occurred around us. Waiting too long dilutes the message.”
The board agreed to review the amendments’ language and consider a second resolution.
Kipke earlier this week published a letter on behalf of the school board addressing the nationwide protests, which have gradually pushed multiple cities to begin enacting reform to their police departments and other operations.
“During the past few weeks, we have witnessed blatant acts of racism and police brutality, touched off by the horrific and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among others,” Kipke wrote in the letter. “These events remind us that anti-Black racism is alive and well and continues to plague all corners of our country and our society.”
Kipke added that the onus was on the leadership of the district to both listen to and speak in defense of the black community and other communities who experience systemic prejudice.
“As educators, we have a responsibility to teach our students about the injustices people of color face every day,” she wrote. “We are committed to ensuring that our students have the knowledge, skills and confidence to create a more peaceful and just world, one that embraces and celebrates diversity and breaks the chains of racism.”

‘Banana a Day’ Sustained Cavenagh for 105 Years

Jane Cavenagh, circa 1970s.

World War I was raging, Charlie Chaplin’s “The Tramp” had recently been released and a month later, Babe Ruth would launch the first of his 714 home runs. Concurrently, in a small California town about a marathon run southwest of Bakersfield that at the time was named Moron (now Taft) on April 2, 1915, Jane T. Cavenagh was born, the first child of Zella and Robert Cavenagh.
While her entrance into this world may not have been noteworthy, her departure was, because on May 29, 2020, Cavenagh passed away at the ripe age of 105.
Family records don’t really exist, but Rob Cavenagh — Jane’s nephew and one of just two surviving relatives — says that his aunt lived in South Pasadena from “the 1940s” until 2018, when she moved to an assisted living facility in Yucca Valley.

School District Offers Strategy to Meet Huge Shortfall

By Steve Simmons

With the South Pasadena Unified School District facing a possible $4.4 million deficit amid the COVID-19 pandemic, its assistant superintendent of business services this week outlined state and national factors that have led to the financial straits and presented proposals to meet the shortfall, including personnel cuts.
Speaking Tuesday at the SPUSD Board of Education’s virtual meeting, Dave Lubs described a “grim” 2020-21 budget-making process marked by an ever-changing financial footing and numerous unknowns, and still very much in the state’s hands.

District Office to Make Big Move — Across the Street

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review
The South Pasadena Unified School District plans to sell its longtime main office, which is a historic landmark.

If everything works out, the South Pasadena Unified School District office will at this time next year be moving all the way across the street, ceding its current historic site to a new owner who will preserve its integrity for a more appropriate use.

CIF Evaluating All Options for Fall Season

Photo by Raymond Quan / OUTLOOK
CIF State officials remain hopeful of a fall athletic season and will soon release a “return to participation” guideline for all sections and member schools.

As the nation adjusts to living with COVID-19 and Gov. Gavin Newsom eases the restrictions of his Stay at Home order, the possibility of reopening school campuses and restarting athletics grows by the day.
The National Federation of State High School Associations recently published a 16-page document recommending how state governing boards — such as the California Interscholastic Federation — should approach the reinstatement of sports.
The CIF State Federal Council acknowledged those guidelines during a virtual meeting last Friday and is preparing its own “return to participation” document, which will be released after all of the CIF’s section commissioners convene on June 9.
“The message I want to convey to all of you is that all options for fall, winter and spring sports are being considered and are on the table,” CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod recently said in a statement. “We want to give every consideration we can to be able to provide all three seasons of sport to our member schools and all our stakeholders that are viable, meaningful and include championship competition.
“We do not want to rush to judgment in either direction by canceling seasons of sport prematurely or having sports return before it is safe for them to do so. With that in mind, we will continue to stay current on this ever-changing situation and do everything we can to assist our member schools in restoring education-based athletics programs when the time is right.”
In a recent update from CIF-SS, Wigod said the decisions to reopen campuses and bring back athletics ultimately fall on officials who are authorized to make those decisions, such as local districts and private school boards.
“When to start school will be completely up to those local entities,” he added. “I am sure they will follow the recommendations of state and local health authorities in arriving at decisions that are in the best interests of their students and school communities.”
The Southern Section has not adopted a new schedule for the 2020-21 year and currently has its original calendar in place. Wigod said revisions will be made once there are enough schools and athletic programs back on campus.

Sinclair to Serve as Principal at Arroyo Vista

The South Pasadena Unified School District has named Kim Sinclair as the new principal at Arroyo Vista Elementary School.
Expressing happiness over the appointment, district Superintendent Geoff Yantz said, “Mrs. Sinclair’s proven experience as a principal, curriculum coordinator and teacher within South Pasadena Unified will build upon Arroyo Vista’s outstanding educational environment while fostering critical relationships between students, parents, teachers and the community.”
For the past four years, Sinclair worked as the SPUSD coordinator of curriculum and assessment, a position that honed her expertise in research-based instructional strategies, assessments and teacher professional development. She previously served as principal of Marengo Elementary School for seven years.

Kim Sinclair.

At Marengo, the district said, Sinclair built a professional learning community where students, staff and parents worked collaboratively to provide an exemplary learning program for all students. She supported teachers as they implemented strategies such as thinking maps, cognitively guided instruction, project-based learning and differentiated instruction, helping Marengo earn “very high” ratings in all academic performance indicators on the California Dashboard.
Before becoming principal at Marengo, Sinclair worked as the district coordinator of testing and categorical programs and as a Marengo kindergarten, 1st- and 3rd-grade teacher. She also taught elementary school at the Coronado Unified, Los Angeles Unified and Clark County (Nevada) Unified districts and in Italy.
“I am honored and thrilled to join the families and staff at Arroyo Vista during a time when ideas about working together in unique ways that best support students, academically, as well as socially and emotionally, will be critical,” Sinclair said.
“My experience collaboratively bringing new initiatives into play while supporting students, teachers and families with respect will help build a strong team for the future.”
Sinclair earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Cal State and a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University. She holds an administrative services credential and two teaching credentials.
Sinclair will take over leadership of Arroyo Vista on July 1. Her position at the district level as coordinator of curriculum and assessment will not be replaced due to budget reductions.