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SPUSD to Sell Headquarters for Over $12 Million to Developer

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review
The South Pasadena Unified School District approved an agreement this week for the long-awaited sale of its main office on 1020 El Centro St., paving the way for its move next door to 1100 El Centro St.

The arduous journey of selling its historic but outgrown central office may finally be arriving at an end for the South Pasadena Unified School District.
Per an agreement ratified by the Board of Education this week, the district is expected to turn over custody of the property at 1020 El Centro St. to a developer for more than $12.25 million. The developer is listed under the name FSM SOPAS LLC in public documents.
The tentative sale caps years of consideration and attempts by the district to move its main offices and sell the longtime location, which remains in strong need of renovations and is no longer considered appropriate to handle operations at the district’s current scale. Those attempts to sell have magnified in the past year, with multiple purchase agreements falling through and ultimately forcing the district to use a loan to pull the trigger on its new location.
“Let this be the last time that we vote on an agreement like this,” Superintendent Geoff Yantz quipped on Tuesday night.

New City Manager, Police Chief Welcomed by City Council

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Armine Chaparyan

After rescinding its offer to the previous candidate, the City Council last week voted unanimously to approve South Pasadena’s newest city manager.
Armine Chaparyan will take the reins as city manager officially on Monday, May 31, taking over the duties of interim City Manager Sean Joyce. Formally, Chaparyan will replace Stephanie DeWolfe, whom the council parted ways with in September.
“We look forward to working with [Armine] and are very grateful to our interim city manager, who had anticipated that he would be gone by now and returning to a lovely life in retirement,” said Mayor Diana Mahmud, “but we are so very grateful that you have decided to stay with us until Ms. Chaparyan is ready to start her work year.”
Her appointment comes after the council rescinded its offer to Christopher Jordan in late April, in response to backlash from some residents whose public comments criticized the council for its then-decision. Those residents questioned the timing of Jordan’s resignation as city manager of Los Altos in November and also expressed concern about his time with a city in Oregon, which included the hiring of a police chief later embroiled in a false arrest scandal that resulted in one of the state’s largest settlements.

Competitive, But in Search of a Trey

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

South Pasadena High School boys’ basketball coach Ernest Baskerville thinks about one particular three-pointer all too much.
Last season, the Tigers were less than two seconds away from upsetting perennial Rio Hondo League powerhouse La Cañada when an opposing player received a long pass, took a few steps and banked it in from beyond the arc. Baskerville has thought about that play so much that even his three young sons have developed a dislike for La Cañada.
It’s memories of three-pointers like that that drive South Pasadena. This season, they want to beat their rivals and push for an outright league title, then make some noise in the playoffs.

Tigers Drop Third League Game

Photo by Keira Wight / The Review
South Pasadena senior Nico Schroeder gave up one unearned run on two hits and struck out eight in a 2-1 loss against La Cañada last Friday. The Tigers fell to 2-3 in Rio Hondo League play.

The South Pasadena High School varsity baseball team suffered a second consecutive Rio Hondo League loss, falling to host La Cañada, 2-1, in eight innings last Friday.
The Tigers (5-5 overall record, 2-3 in league) got on the board in the top of the third inning to take the lead but the Spartans responded with their first run in the bottom half of the frame. Adam Geller of LCHS opened the eighth with a double and later scored the game-winning run on a single from Evan Umland.
SPHS senior Nico Schroeder was stellar on the mound, surrendering one unearned run on two hits and four walks in six innings and recording eight strikeouts. Noah Takeda Teer was dealt the loss by giving up one run on two hits in two innings of work. He also tallied three strikeouts.
DJ Pearson was 1-for-2 and scored the Tigers’ lone run of the game. Landon Ackerman, Schroeder and Teer each singled, and Dillon Hugasian drove in a run.
South Pasadena will travel to San Marino for a league contest this today at 3:30 p.m.

SPHS Athletes Fare Well at Track Invitational

Austin Green
South Pasadena Review

Photo by Austin Green / The Review
Kaile Fernandes, Amelia Jarolim, Gabriela Rodriguez, Miranda Liu, Sydney Morrow and Lindsay Michels helped the South Pasadena High School track and field team capture the girls’ division at Saturday’s Pasadena Games invitational. SPHS also won the boys’ division to complete a Tigers’ sweep.

Less than a week after they finally got approval from Los Angeles County to do so, and following a hectic few days of planning, South Pasadena High School and head track coach C.B. Richards hosted the 75th Pasadena Games on Saturday at SPHS.
Richards, the meet master, presided over a festive, normal-like atmosphere — complete with a socially distanced DJ — that welcomed athletes, coaches and fans from more than 20 schools to the South Pas campus with safety protocols in place. As the cherry on top of a successful competition on Saturday, Richards’ Tigers easily topped the boys’ and girls’ team leaderboards at the end of the meet.

Local Father Killed in Drive-By Shooting

MingZhi Zhu

The South Pasadena community this week has rallied its support around the family of a local man who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles this week while working as an Uber driver.
MingZhi Zhu, 42, was killed in his vehicle while waiting at a red light at Figueroa and 7th Street in L.A. at around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday. The gunman, who had earlier killed another motorist and fired rounds at other vehicles, was later killed in a stand-off with police who had barricaded him on the 91 Freeway, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“He was a hard-working, gentle, kind, deeply-loving father and very dedicated husband,” said Yuki Cutcheon, president of the South Pasadena Chinese American Club, in a statement to media on behalf of Zhu’s family Tuesday. “The family is really at a total loss without him.”
In South Pasadena, Zhu’s family contacted the South Pasadena Police Department Tuesday morning after Zhu, an Uber driver, did not return home. Interim Police Chief Brian Solinsky said the department quickly determined that Zhu was among the rampage gunman’s victims.
The department quickly pivoted to provide support. Solinsky said he contacted the Chinese American Club to assist with Mandarin translation, while the South Pasadena Police Officers Association sprang into action to provide food and other resources for the family.

Tiger Newspaper Coverage Lauded in Contest

Photo courtesy Tiger Newspaper
Matthew Tsai, print managing editor of the Tiger Newspaper at South Pasadena High School, reviews the March 11, 2020, edition of the paper — the last physical print issue before the coronavirus pandemic forced a pivot to online and digital publishing for the year.

For the members of the Tiger Newspaper staff at South Pasadena High School, the past year-plus of a pandemic that has forced them to do their schooling at home has made their journalism class and project all the more interesting, if not frustrating.
Now back in the classroom on a limited basis, the dedicated crew of students aims to crank out an actual printed edition of their monthly publication, which would serve as a hopeful send-off for the seniors whose work for this year has been all-PDF and all-online. They are also hoping to continue the momentum from the Silver Crown award the publication just earned for its 2019-20 run from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association as they prepare for the competition for the current academic year.
“It was definitely really cool to receive this award,” said senior Catherine “Cat” Flores, who is editor-in-chief of Tiger. “We were able to reflect on our past work and it reminded us what a great newspaper we are.”

With Stronger Chemistry, Varsity Squad Peaking at Right Time

Photo courtesy Daryl Chan
Dylan Tse, a 5-foot-6 freshman at South Pasadena High School, has helped the girls’ varsity basketball team persevere past a slow start this season.

Before each game, the South Pasadena girls’ basketball team chants “together,” then “family” on the count of three.
Offseason meetings on Zoom to start the year later turned to conditioning on the track and outdoor practices on humbling pavement. Soon, it was indoor practices accompanied by weekly mouth swabs to test for COVID-19, the disease that upended their usual schedule along with the world.
Despite all the changes and separation they endured, this year’s team has a sense of togetherness unlike others in recent seasons, and it’s evident in more than just the pregame chant.
“The past years, we’ve never played team ball,” said junior Allysan Tse. “Since we have really good chemistry and we have each other’s backs, the chemistry this year is just way better and the environment is really positive.”
The team cohesiveness continues to develop as the season progresses. After losing the first three games of the season, the Tigers won two in a row and scored a season-high 64 points against neighboring rival San Marino.

City Council Passes ‘Hero Pay’ Ordinance For Grocery Workers

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

The City Council continued to show support for essential workers by unanimously passing an urgency ordinance last week that mandates a $3 hourly raise for grocery and drug retail workers in South Pasadena.
The premium pay, dubbed “hero pay,” will last 60 days and took effect immediately after the ordinance was passed at the Wednesday, April 21, meeting. After 45 days, the council plans to revisit the ordinance to determine if it should be extended.
“This is something we have as stewards of our society, of our ethics, just to have a compassionate heart,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti.

Back in the Classroom

The first round of South Pasadena High School students made their long-anticipated return to the classroom last week, as one of the school’s two cohorts enjoyed its “first day” of in-person classes. The second cohort made its return this week, and the two will alternate with each other on a hybrid schedule of in-person and remote instruction for the remainder of the school year. Principal Janet Anderson, as well as assistant principals Janet Wichman and David Speck, helped to orient the children for their return.