Prior to the first volunteer day at the South Pasadena Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park since before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizer Barbara Eisenstein had some doubts. “I was nervous about it, that nobody would show up” to help at the oasis commonly known as the South Pasadena Nature Park, she said. On the morning of May 15, Eisenstein’s uncertainty dissolved as roughly 10 outdoor enthusiasts appeared, gardening tools in hand. Together, the group hacked away at weeds that had grown on the walking paths and other unwanted plants intermingling with the native plants that inhabit the nature park. When many parks and playgrounds were closed during the pandemic, the nature park, located on Pasadena Avenue, remained open for use.
No two school years are really ever alike, not least because there is always a swath of teachers leaving for other jobs or retirement and a wave of new instructors as well. When South Pasadena High School’s students return to their classrooms this fall, those in science courses may feel a particularly notable void. After 37 years at the school, Konstantine “Dean” Papadakis is joining at least a half-dozen of his colleagues in retirement. He and other retirees — some of whom also have put in 30-plus years with the South Pasadena Unified School District — were honored in a video ceremony on May 19, in lieu of the usual in-person farewell.
The South Pasadena High School varsity girls’ basketball team’s hopes for a CIF Southern Section championship ended after falling to host San Dimas, 66-60, in a Division 3A semifinal last Saturday. The Tigers (14-6 overall) trailed by 13 points entering the third quarter but didn’t give up. They outscored the No. 10-seeded Saints 24-11 in the fourth and led by two in the waning moments of the game. A clutch shot from the home squad forced overtime and San Dimas carried that momentum into the extra period to come away with a win. Four Saints scored in double figures; three of them were freshmen.
Noah Takeda-Teer graduated a week ago, but as the South Pasadena High School baseball team continues through the postseason, what he plays for is still clear. “I’m playing for the school, I’m playing for the city,” Takeda-Teer said, “because we want to bring a CIF [championship] back to South Pas.” The Tigers took their latest step toward that goal on Tuesday afternoon by beating Calabasas Viewpoint, 1-0, in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. The win advances the Tigers to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005, where they will host Elsinore (17-5 record), the Inland Valley League champions, today at 3:15 p.m.
Vecinos de South Pasadena announced recently it has awarded three “outstanding” South Pasadena High School class of 2021 graduates with scholarships totaling $5,000. The awardees are Brian Zepeda, who will study fine arts and photography at Pasadena City College; Katelyn Hernández, who will study political science at Cal Poly Pomona; and Tonalli García-Rodríguez, who will study Latin American studies and sociology at UCLA.
This week, as Arroyo Vista Elementary School students wrapped up a strange school year, some of their parents banded together to create a fun send-off for them as they kick off summer vacation. As the students approached the school on Tuesday and Wednesday, they were treated to a facade of surfboards, beach accessories and other related props. In recent weeks, parents volunteered to put together the art installation to give their students an enjoyable last day of school after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from coming back to classrooms until March.
With students graduating on the field just feet away, school administrators presented South Pasadena Middle School’s new Arts Building to a small crowd of staff members and families on Tuesday. The building, which used to host SPMS’ gymnasium, has undergone renovation for more than two years, school representatives said. It now sports a theater for drama and dance lessons, a visual arts classroom and a flex lab for science and engineering activities. The theater also boasts an accompanying control booth and dressing room.
After guiding decades of students, South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson announced this week she is wrapping up her career and bidding a bittersweet farewell to the local school system. Anderson plans to retire in August, capping a 41-year education career that took place entirely in her hometown. She has spent the last 21 years of that journey as the principal of SPHS, from which she graduated in the 1970s. She also served as principal of Marengo Elementary School for three years, earning that position after working as a teacher and assistant administrator at every other school in SPUSD. “It’s not the average length of tenure for a high school principal,” Anderson quipped in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The South Pasadena City Council took a step last week in deciding how to repurpose the grant that was to have paid for the Arroyo Fest, voting to issue three requests for traffic-related proposals. Proposals are being sought for development of a Slow Streets program, for a traffic study to analyze travel lane closure options and for the design and installation of removable bollards — posts used as a traffic-safety measure — on Meridian Avenue.
It was time for the 5th-graders of South Pasadena to get things back on track, and in this case that literally meant getting back on the track. After the 2020 version was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 All City Track Meet was back up and running at South Pasadena High School’s Ray Solari Stadium on Sunday morning. “I’m thrilled that these 5th-graders get to have an event to kind of mark their end-of-elementary-school experience,” co-chair Eryn Kalavsky of Arroyo Vista Elementary School said. “It’s a rite of passage for them to get to have this opportunity.” To maintain protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the organizers altered the format. This included limiting the number of attendees to the event, which in years past has attracted upward of about 700 students and their family members, resulting in an event just for the 5th-graders. The All City Track Meet included competitors from four elementary schools: Arroyo Vista, Marengo, Monterey Hills and Holy Family. Throughout the day, participants arrived in three separate shifts with about 40 kids in each wave; they would finish their competition and exit with their supporters just as the next group rolled in. Participants ran the 100-meter run, then the long jump and high jump. The next event included the 400-meter run. Finally, the four fastest kids in the 100 meters from each school raced in a 4×100 relay race, co-chair Gina Loyonnet of Monterey Hills explained. “Just to make sure we were able to keep distance and we’re able to monitor the kids, we split it into sessions,” co-chair Noel Garcia of Marengo said. South Pasadena’s three public elementary schools had students in each session, while Holy Family Catholic School joined them exclusively in the second group. “I’m pretty excited,” Holy Family 5th-grader Ella Igtanloc said in the stands awaiting her turn. “I haven’t run for a tournament in track in a really long time because of the pandemic, so, yeah, I’m pretty excited.” After a group warmup and jog, boys’ and girls’ 100-meter dashes kicked things off. “The most fun one in my opinion was the 100-meter,” Arroyo Vista Wildcat Yannick Colin said, “because I can go fast and I still won’t be tired at the end.” The relay, which was coed for the first time, finished each session. “I think I liked the relay the most,” Monterey Hills Roadrunner Ramona Nichols said. “We exchanged batons and there were lots of kinds of people, girls and boys.” Each of the top three finishers in every heat in all three sessions was awarded a medal, got their names read over the loudspeaker and stood atop a podium. “I was so proud [seeing her on the podium],” Monica Munoz, an alumna of South Pasadena High School, said of her daughter, Juliana Hernandez. “It’s been a couple years she has been running for Arroyo Vista and she always does a great job and we’re always very proud of her.” Although the live event was limited to the 5th-graders, the rest of the elementary school grades were able to take part in a virtual manner in the days leading up to the meet. “We were just so excited to do this for the 5th-graders who missed out last year and were probably looking at missing out this year on all of the best in-person events of the year,” co-chair Megan Gardner of Arroyo Vista said. “We wanted to offer an in-person event as it became more obvious that we were going to be allowed to do outside events.”