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SPHS Teacher’s Life Experience Helps to Guide Pupils

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Annalee Pearson is a social studies teacher at South Pasadena High School and her students might do well to listen to her life story.
Her father is from the Philippines and was in the U.S. Navy. Her mother is from Durango, Mexico, and worked for hotels in San Diego. Her older brother did not graduate high school and neither did her sister.
Pearson is the only child in the family who graduated college — going to UC Santa Barbara and then getting her master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University.

Dumpster Day Held This Month

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

With the return of Dumpster Day, residents ages 60 and older can have large furniture or appliances picked up from their homes for free the week of Oct. 11-15. Items will be picked up on the same day as regular trash pickup.
“Please note that hazardous waste such as televisions, computers and other electronics will not be included in the pickup,” a spokesperson said. “Reservations are required and space is limited.”
To make a reservation, contact the South Pasadena Senior Center at (626) 403-7360, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The deadline for all reservations is noon Friday, Oct. 8. All other residents can participate in the drive-thru services on Arroyo Drive just south of Mission Street on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For questions or concerns with the pickup, call Leaonna DeWitt at (626) 403-7240 or email at LDeWitt@southpasadenaca.gov.

Local Educators Are Named Teachers of the Year

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Photo courtesy SPUSD Superintendent Geoff Yantz, honoree and Monterey Hills Elementary School kindergarten teacher Christina Torres and Monterey Hills Principal Laurie Narro celebrate at the 40th annual Los Angeles County Office of Education Teachers of the Year Awards banquet.

Christina Torres, a kindergarten teacher at Monterey Hills Elementary School, was recently recognized as the South Pasadena Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony on Sept. 24. The event honored all awardees from Los Angeles County school districts.
The ceremony was held at the Universal City Hilton, which brought together each of the 56 Teachers of the Year honorees from 52 of the county’s public school districts and ultimately named the Teachers of the Year to represent L.A. County in the statewide competition.
In addition to Torres, SPUSD had named Arroyo Vista Elementary School’s 4th-grade teacher Sharon Reed, Marengo Elementary School’s 2nd-grade teacher Kristen Kato, South Pasadena Middle School’s English teacher Julie Ryu and South Pasadena High School’s English teacher Katy Jaroch as the district’s teachers of the year.
“This year, SPUSD recognized outstanding school site teachers of the year for their care, compassion, and ingenuity in both their virtual and in-person classrooms,” the district said in a statement. “This competition is designed to focus public attention on teaching excellence and to honor exemplary dedication and professional commitment.”

City Invites Public to Help Redraw District Lines

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The city of South Pasadena has officially launched its redistricting process with an updated website that contains all the information and resources the community needs to get involved, located at s southpasadenaca.gov/redistricting2021.
Every 10 years, local governments use new data from the United States Census to redraw their district lines to reflect how local populations have changed. Members of the South Pasadena community are encouraged to participate in the redistricting process to help make certain district lines respect neighborhoods, history and geographical elements.

SPHS Defeated By La Cañada, 14-4

Photo by Sebastian Moore / The Review Claire Chen defeated La Cañada’s Nicole Sorensen to contribute a singles set victory.

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

La Cañada High School’s varsity girls’ tennis team cruised to a 14-4 Rio Hondo League victory against visiting South Pasadena (4-1 overall record, 2-0 in league) on Tuesday afternoon. Six Spartans earned sweeps en route to their second league victory of the season.
LCHS’ No. 1 singles player, Maya Urata, was immaculate, winning each of her sets, 6-0, against Tigers Talia Yoo, Kyra Campbell and Claire Chen. La Cañada’s No. 2 singles player, Maren Urata, won sets against the same opponents by scores of 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0, respectively. South Pasadena’s Campbell and Chen earned 6-1 and 6-3 wins, respectively, over La Cañada’s Nicole Sorensen.

Newsom Signs 710 Housing Bill Aby Portantino

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Caltrans will officially hand over the South Pasadena properties it acquired in its failed bid to build the 710 Freeway extension in accordance with the new Senate Bill 381 signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom and drafted by state Sen. Anthony Portantino.
SB 381 provides protections for existing tenants, includes a strategy to protect historic homes and gives flexibility to the city of South Pasadena to create more affordable housing. The bill accelerates the transition of the Caltrans-owned homes and follows the successful negotiation to end the threat of the 710 Freeway, enacting protections for nonprofits operating in the corridor.

Tigers Fall to League-Leading La Cañada in 5 Sets

Photo by Sebastian Moore / The Review South Pasadena High School’s Abby Garner (18) elevates for one of her team-high 15 kills during the Tigers’ five-set loss at LCHS on Tuesday. Also pictured are Kennedy Taylor (22), Alyssa Sokolow (5) and Ava Dorny (14).

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

It was a challenging but exciting league match between South Pasadena High School (29-6 overall, 3-1 in league) and host La Cañada’s varsity girls’ volleyball teams.
A powerhouse matchup between two of the premier teams in the area — and the CIF division — ended with the Tigers losing narrowly in five sets, 21-25, 30-28, 26-24, 21-25, 15-10.

Rose Float Builders Overcoming Parade of Challenges

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review Joss Rogers welds steel pieces together for the South Pasadena Rose Parade float. Some steel parts have skyrocketed in price during the pandemic, necessitating some creative sourcing or scavenging.

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

On a Saturday morning, the conversation between South Pasadena Tournament of Roses volunteers revolves around pampas grass for the float. Specifically, where to find it.
One volunteer points out that some is growing outside a Wells Fargo bank. Another says it’s growing near the train station. Can they take that? Is it city property?

Abajian to Leave SPUSD Board This Month

First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

School board member Suzie Abajian, who less than a year ago was handily re-elected for a second term, will resign this month because she is moving out of the South Pasadena Unified School District.
Abajian said in a letter to the community that she will leave the SPUSD Board of Education on Wednesday, Oct. 13, after her final meeting with the board the previous night. She noted in the letter that she made the announcement with regret and that serving the community had been “a great honor,” but added that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of family and “it has become clear to me that I need to devote more time and attention to my own family at this time.”

John August Swanson | Obituary

John August Swanson

World-renown local artist John August Swanson died last Thursday, Sept. 23, at age 83.
Swanson had been in hospice care at St. John of God Care Center in L.A. with final stage heart failure, according to his assistant, Andrew Shimmin.
His paintings, which touched on topics ranging from social justice and biblical recreations to circus themes, have been shown in the Vatican, the Smithsonian, the Tate as well as the Victoria and Albert museums in London, the Museum of Modern Art and at Emory College, where most of his paintings serigraphs and giclee are on display.
Swanson in 2005 was one of 33 inaugural recipients — including Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter — of the Mother Teresa Award for achievement in beautifying the world.
Some of his artworks have even been transformed into stained glass windows and mosaics.
The Hill Avenue Grace Lutheran Church in Pasadena commissioned Swanson to create an altar piece based on his Nativity triptych works. He teamed with the South Pasadena-based Judson Studios to create a stained-glass reproduction of one of his works, “The River,” now on display as a mosaic at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Glendale.
Some of the scenes in his oil paintings, serigraphs, giclee and posters reflect the culture of his Mexican mother and of his Swedish father.
Swanson was born in L.A., where he had maintained his studio. He was the subject of an “Around Town” profile Aug. 25 in the Review, which recalled how his serigraph “Tales of Hoffman” was celebrated after its donation to the South Pasadena Public Library. Several of his serigraphs also remain on display at Holy Family Church here in South Pasadena, where his work is on sale at the church bookstore.
“John was a cherished friend of many years,” said Monsignor Clement Connolly, pastor emeritus at Holy Family. “The joys and insights of his soul found expression in the inspiring eloquence of his art, which was always a living prayer. His pensive, insightful smile and the patience of his peaceful spirit carried the gospel. Of great consequence was his passion for social justice. He was, at all times, my teacher.”
It was his desire to express his beliefs in social justice which led to his seeking formal art training when he was 30 years old. He became skilled in creating serigraphs, which call for each color to be individually layered by applying ink through a silkscreen onto paper. Some of the creations, from Swanson and the printing team of Jim and Sandy Butterfield, were so detailed they had more than 50 individual colors displayed on a serigraph.
The serigraph “Procession,” which is on display in the Vatican, required 89 stencils and took a year to complete.
Swanson was still working on his art until his final hospitalization earlier this year.
“His art doesn’t fit like anyone else’s,” said Ann Yee, bookstore manager at Holy Family. “He’s unique. He had a heritage in faith with strong feelings about what he believed. He was passionate and he expressed that passion through his art.”
Swanson’s gentle and unassuming way won him as many admirers as his artwork.
“John was a wonderful man and gave so much to the world he has left,” said Cambria Tortorelli, formerly of Holy Family who is currently president of the International Institute of Los Angeles and who owns several of Swanson’s works. “We are the lesser for his physical absence.”
Funeral services are pending, according to Shimmin.