At County Spelling Bee, LCE 6th Grader is I-n-v-i-n-c-i-b-l-e

La Cañada Elementary School Principal Emily Blaney made it a point to tell students participating in Spelling Bees on her campus and later at the district office that while most of them would be knocked out, they could find consolation knowing they’d never forget how to spell the word on which they were eliminated.
She’s proof. Ceaselessly got her once. But never again.
LCE 6th-grader Gabriel Gottheim didn’t have to miss sabbatical or demarcate or memorabilia for those words to earn a permanent place in his memory bank. Continue reading “At County Spelling Bee, LCE 6th Grader is I-n-v-i-n-c-i-b-l-e”

Humiliation, Sacrifice and Plenty of Fun at TACH Bash

For the 10th year, La Cañada High School students threw a bash that was sure to get folks in town talking: 250 people showed up, many of them throwing pies in the faces of LCHS students, some of them dumping buckets of water on the teens. One student lost his parking spot at school next to Principal Ian McFeat for the rest of the school year.
All that and more in the name of charity. Continue reading “Humiliation, Sacrifice and Plenty of Fun at TACH Bash”

Cook Studios Signs $500M Deal with Chinese Company

Dick Cook
Dick Cook

Dick Cook Studios, the namesake venture of one of Hollywood’s heralded nice guys, last month announced a $500-million production deal with Film Carnival, a Chinese movie company.
The burgeoning multimedia entertainment studio led by the former Walt Disney Studios chairman reportedly will adapt the best-selling “Ranger’s Apprentice” children’s book series into a film to be directed by five-time Oscar nominee Paul Haggis. Continue reading “Cook Studios Signs $500M Deal with Chinese Company”

St. Francis Alumnus Dies in Iraq Accident

Joseph Stifter
Joseph Stifter

Joseph Stifter, a U.S. Army soldier who graduated from St. Francis High School, died Jan. 28 in Anbar province in Iraq from injuries he suffered when the armored Humvee he was in was involved in a rollover accident.
Educators and friends recently joined members of the community in gathering at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church for a memorial service, which Stifter’s father, Fred Stifter, described in an email as “emotional and dignified.”
Joseph Stifter, 30, was a Glendale resident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, which is part of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He joined the Army in May 2011 and deployed in October to Iraq, where he was a field artillery cannon crew member. Continue reading “St. Francis Alumnus Dies in Iraq Accident”

LCHS Grad Surveys NFL From Thoughtful Distance

Covering the NFL for the L.A. Times has placed La Cañada High School graduate Sam Farmer in some pretty heady company, whether sitting on a discussion panel with former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman (above), climbing a mountain with Commissioner Roger Goodell (below) or chatting up Denver quarterback Peyton Manning at practice (right).
Covering the NFL for the L.A. Times has placed La Cañada High School graduate Sam Farmer in some pretty heady company, whether sitting on a discussion panel with former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman (above), climbing a mountain with Commissioner Roger Goodell (below) or chatting up Denver quarterback Peyton Manning at practice (right).

This was a call he had to take.
It was former Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, wanting to know what everyone else did: Were his Rams coming back to L.A.?
“And I thought, ‘This is really a cool moment in my career,’” said Sam Farmer, a 1984 La Cañada High School graduate whose hard work covering the National Football League for the Los Angeles Times was recognized recently by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, which named him the California Sportswriter of the Year. Continue reading “LCHS Grad Surveys NFL From Thoughtful Distance”

Dupre’s Fascinating Story of Adversity and Triumph

Photo courtesy Alen Barbosa Wood
India Dupre, at the keyboard, is surrounded by adoring students, including Jessica Mazin, Genny Seto, Shelby Kim, Lauren Halley, Tanvi Chawla, Soren Dziak, Bo Oliver, Nitya Chawla and Axel Frame.

Sometimes, when she’s coaching kids in the neighborhood, imparting important technical pointers and, more crucially, being a booster of the confidence that makes those skills sing, the thought strikes India Dupre: “I was only that little.”
In La Cañada Flintridge, Dupre comes highly recommended. For the past 15 years, she’s worked here as a voice and acting teacher for youth, sometimes directing ambitious productions at the La Cañada Junior Theater and often tutoring pupils privately as they prepare for auditions.
Most of those students don’t know much about Dupre’s personal background beyond the fact that she comes with a cool Australian accent.
Heck, as LCF resident Brent Kuszyk put it, he had to “pry” to get Dupre even to talk about her professional accomplishments after his daughter, Ali, began taking voice lessons from her. So clients might not know that Dupre graduated magna cum laude from UCLA’s School of Theater, that she’s appeared on network TV shows and in video games or, soon, that she’ll be making a short film funded largely by the Kevin Spacey Foundation.
This year, the KSF Artists of Choice program awarded Dupre a grant to help transfer her biographical story from her computer hard drive to the screen.
Dupre will direct the seven-minute “Stripped” as a proof of concept for a full-length feature. She’s set out to tell a tale — with help from La Cañada Junior Theater actors Stella Bonstin and Bo Oliver — that will teach viewers a lot about a difficult, despicable chapter in Australian history. And about her. Continue reading “Dupre’s Fascinating Story of Adversity and Triumph”

A Golden Moment After Dark Days for the Buck Family

The cheer that went up in La Cañada Flintridge on Sunday night was for Chris Buck, the LCF resident and co-director of the Disney smash-hit “Frozen,” which was honored at the 71st Golden Globe Awards as the Best Animated Film.
It was another chapter in an emotional few months for Buck, whose son Ryder was killed in late October after being struck by two cars while walking across the 2 Freeway.
“I have to say, I’ve been fairly schizophrenic the last few months,” Buck said Tuesday. “When my son was killed, I was doing publicity in New York and we flew back for the service and everything. I was there for about two weeks before we kind of had to get rolling again. But I think it was a good distraction.”
At his first Golden Globes ceremony Sunday, Buck took the stage to accept the award with fellow director Jennifer Lee. They thanked those who helped make the film, and Buck added, “And we want to thank all of the fans who have taken ‘Frozen’ into their hearts.” Continue reading “A Golden Moment After Dark Days for the Buck Family”

Cool Head Leads to Escape in Encounter with Gunman

It was a great day to be selling cell phones, and La Cañada Flintridge resident Riley Donaldson was on his game, dealing devices to a steady stream of Black Friday customers.
Then, at around 4 p.m., during a lull in the action, a man with a gun walked into the Verizon store in the La Crescenta shopping center in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard.
The man said he had just robbed the nearby Rite-Aid for prescription medication before entering the shop where Donaldson and Michael Arnold were working.
Donaldson, a 20-year-old St. Francis High School graduate, spent the next few minutes talking to the gunman, eventually persuading him to let the two of them leave. (There were no customers in the store at the time.)
Five hours later, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau deputies entered and found the suspect dead. Continue reading “Cool Head Leads to Escape in Encounter with Gunman”

‘Hangover’ Movie Writer Makes LCF His ‘Wolfpack’

No, Craig Mazin will not let his 11-year-old son watch “Hangover III.”
The movie — which was co-written by Mazin, the incoming president of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation — opens this week. It’s the final installment in the franchise that includes the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. The wickedly nefarious trilogy follows a quartet of friends on a series of comedic adventures.
“I think I know, as well as anybody, whether or not [he] should see this movie,” said Mazin, who also helped write the second of the “Hangover” films. “And the answer is, ‘No!’”
Lots of people have seen the movies, of course. Including lots of LCF residents.
“I sometimes worry because [this] is a conservative town,” Mazin, 42, said. “But I’ve never received any negative comments, no one’s ever scoffed. I think people understand: It’s a movie. Continue reading “‘Hangover’ Movie Writer Makes LCF His ‘Wolfpack’”