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Families Celebrate as Schools Begin In-Person Learning Again

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
An Arroyo Vista Elementary School staff member scans the temperature of a kindergarten student before he goes to his classroom on the first day of kindergarten on Monday.

On a Monday morning, the Festa family had a dance party. Anna Festa’s kindergartner son sat on the top of the parked family car while a remix of the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” soundtrack blared from the inside.
“(It) was very uplifting and exciting,” Festa said, while standing outside Arroyo Vista Elementary School. “So, yeah, we sang our lungs out and danced.”
It was the first day of in-person school, and it was a cause for celebration. The first day of school is always a big deal, but in 2021 perhaps it is even more so, since the COVID-19 pandemic delayed on-campus instruction. In fact, it hasn’t happened here at all in nearly a year.

New Athletic Facilities at South Pas High Ready for Action

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education and other administrators hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance of South Pasadena High School’s new indoor athletic facilities last week.

Janet Anderson — 21-year principal of and alumna of South Pasadena High School — couldn’t help but feel emotional as she looked around at the school’s new gym.
“They did a really good job preserving a lot of the traditional look, but then modernizing so it’s much more useful for kids,” Anderson said.
South Pasadena High School unveiled new athletic facilities on Feb. 18, to a small, socially distanced group due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included is a freshened-up gym with renovated bleachers and a new floor as well as an auxiliary gym, weight room, film room and athletic training room. Outdoor basketball courts and tennis courts were refinished and an outdoor batting cage was added. Other athletic offices received facelifts as well.

Residents With First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Above 20%

A new addition to the county’s breakdown of coronavirus data by city and community now indicates how many vaccinations against the disease have been administered to residents.
The county public health department is additionally using a map Los Angeles County to present the data visually, and is presenting data on demographic breakdowns, including age ranges and vaccination rates by race or ethnicity.
As of the Review’s press deadline this week, at least 4,611 South Pasadena residents had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccines, representing 21.4% of the city’s population. In total, more than 1.6 million of L.A. County’s approximately 10 million residents have received one or both vaccination shots.

Council Approves Contract for Diversity Training for City

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

In an effort to promote a more conscientious workplace culture for city, the City Council unanimously voted to approve a contract with the Karla Rhay Group, LLC for diversity, equity and inclusion training for city employees.
Although myriad employees will be included in the training, it will prioritize the South Pasadena Police Department.
“The focus and desire is to spend as much time as necessary to explore in great depth many of the contemporary issues that confront police officers as we ask them to reconsider how they provide services,” City Manager Sean Joyce said at last week’s meeting, “and as we ask and seek for us all greater enlightenment as we attempt to understand the perspectives, values and interests of the diverse community that we all serve.”

Next Phase of Students Set to Return in Mid-March

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education unanimously voted last week to return 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-grade students to campus for in-person instruction, tentatively throughout March.
A provisional date of March 11 was set for 3rd-graders, followed by March 15 for 4th- and 5th-graders. Combined with the transitional kindergarten through 2nd-graders who returned to classes last week, the decision to bring back these students would open SPUSD elementary schools at all grade levels.

At 93, Crossing Guard Finds Return to Work a Breath of Fresh Air

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review
With elementary schools now back to limited in-person instruction, South Pasadena crossing guard Marshall St. Johns is back at his familiar corner three times a day, ensuring safe passage for students and other pedestrians.

A lot of talk in the last few months has been about when and how to open schools.
Marshall St. John wasn’t as interested in the how, but he was definitely interested in the when.
After all, when you are 93 years old, you don’t want to sit around.
That’s what St. John was doing until last Thursday. He was missing his job as a school crossing guard since — he remembers the day well — Friday, March 13. That’s the day the merry-go-round stopped for him, and he’s been waiting ever since.
If the name and his story sound familiar, it’s probably because I wrote about St. John before the pandemic after several people tipped me off to this wonderfully friendly crossing guard at Mission Street and Marengo Avenue in South Pasadena.

Obituary | Joanne Lance Hancock

Joanne Lance Hancock

Joanne Lance Hancock, age 93, of South Pasadena, passed away peacefully from natural causes, Sunday January 31, 2021 with loving family by her side.
After graduating from Eagle Rock High School in 1945, Joanne studied history at the University of Redlands, earning a BA in 1949. She completed her teaching credentials at the University of Arizona.
Joanne taught grade school with the Montebello Unified and Pasadena City School Districts. In 1953 she joined the U.S. Army Dependent Schools, spending two rewarding years overseas, teaching grade school children of military personnel in both Japan and Germany.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, she met a young attorney named Clarence “Hank” Hancock who would become her loving husband. They were married December 28, 1956 at the Pasadena First United Methodist Church. They settled in South Pasadena, raising two boys together. She cherished the community of South Pasadena, making many lifelong friendships. An avid traveler, she revisited Europe and Asia with Hank, and enjoyed visiting destinations on all seven continents.

Obituary | Philip Harbison Oehler

Philip Harbison Oehler

Philip Harbison Oehler passed away peacefully in his Grass Valley, CA home on February 4, 2021; he was 81. Born March 23, 1939 in Buffalo, N.Y. to Philip and Fern Oehler, he grew up in Glendale, California (Montrose), graduated from Glendale High School, earned a Bachelor of Engineering from Dartmouth College (Alpha Delta Phi – President), Master of Engineering from USC, Juris Doctor from Pepperdine Law School, and was a member of the California State Bar.
Phil had a 33-year career as an aerospace engineer with a large Southern California defense contractor where he participated in several important national defense projects before retiring with his wife, Maria, to their dream home in Grass Valley. In retirement Phil was an active member of the Nevada County Sportsmen Club. Phil is survived by his wife, Maria, their puppy Misty; daughter Juliet, sons Jeffrey and Michael (daughter-in-law Jena); grandchildren Nicholas, Benjamin, Daniel, and Harper Lynn; stepsons Gabriel, Bob, Jack (daughter-in-law Elsa) and Des; step-grandchildren Maya, Iaos, Keisha, Kumar, Chloe, Quinlyn, Aloe and Quetzal; and step-great-grandchildren Ryker, William and Kiara.

Chargers Give South Pas Doctor His Super Bowl Moment

Photo courtesy Josh Albrektson
South Pasadena radiologist Dr. Josh Albrektson (right) joined fellow health-care heroes Stephanie and Vadim Vanous in representing their beloved Los Angeles Chargers at Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Florida, this month.

A local doctor got a chance to be part of history this month, being among the select few attending the first Super Bowl held during a global pandemic.
Dr. Josh Albrektson, who works as a diagnostic radiologist from his South Pasadena home, was one of four “health care heroes” selected by his beloved San Diego Chargers to represent the team at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, where the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned their second championship by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs. It was an exciting landmark for the doctor, even if, by his own admission, the game itself might have been the most boring part of the trip.

Zoom Won’t Mute This Lunar New Year

Photo courtesy Grace and Alex Kung
The Kungs — Cora, 11; Sara, 12; Ethan, 13; and Grace and Alex — wear red for good luck in the 2021 Lunar New Year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kungs and countless other families who observe the lunar holiday are eschewing the traditional big family gatherings for the safer Zoom parties.

A virtual celebration of Lunar New Year is a poor substitute for Alex and Grace Kung of South Pasadena.
The holiday, which began Feb. 12 this year and can last 15 days or more, is a time for families to get together and uphold traditions. COVID-19 has kept the Kung family apart — texting and relying on the computer to wish each other a Happy New Year.
For the Kungs, and in many American families, the holiday is celebrated for different amounts of time in different countries; in China — until this year — it was a time when workers in the city would go back to their villages to visit. The lunar holiday sometimes stretches a month.