‘Sister Cities’ Program Opens Applications for Japan Trip

The Burbank Sister City Committee has opened applications for resident high school students who are interested to join a group traveling to Ota, Japan, in summer 2022.
Although the 2020 Ota trip was canceled due to the pandemic, several students who were selected for the trip are still planning to travel in 2022 with additional spaces available for students to join the trip. The deadline for student applications is Oct. 15. Continue reading “‘Sister Cities’ Program Opens Applications for Japan Trip”

Battling NorCal Blazes, Local Firefighters Expand Skills

First published in the Sept. 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

In his 24 years with the Burbank Fire Department, Capt. James Moye has battled all sorts of blazes and relied on proven techniques to put them out. Even when he and a strike team of firefighters were summoned to help combat the Monument and Caldor wildfires last month, he said, the approach was largely the same.
What he wasn’t used to were the trees. In Northern California, where several devastating fires have scorched forests and forced people to evacuate their homes, charred trees presented a unique danger. Moye, who recently returned to Burbank with his team, said he heard them fall to the ground throughout the day and night. Continue reading “Battling NorCal Blazes, Local Firefighters Expand Skills”

Saint Finbar School Ushers in New Class, Principal

First published in the Sept. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Students, parents and staff at Saint Finbar Parish School greeted each other on the first day of class last week with a new principal overseeing the Catholic school this year.
The Notre Dame High School marching band and cheerleading team welcomed visitors during the back-to-school event on Aug. 25.
Rosselle Azar, who was announced as the elementary school’s principal earlier this year, worked with teachers and staff members to coordinate the festivities after an extended period of distance learning. Continue reading “Saint Finbar School Ushers in New Class, Principal”

Students Whip Up a Spot on Disney Baking Show

First published in the Sept. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Kids often rave about eating cake. Two local students are thrilled about baking them.
Emerson Chong and Connor Kim, both in the 5th grade, appeared as a sugar-shaping duo on Friday’s episode of “Disney’s Magic Bake-Off.” The show, which started airing just last month on the Disney Channel, pits three teams of two children against each other in a competition to create the best Disney-themed cake within a given time limit.
“One of my dreams came true, which is bake on a real kitchen set,” Emerson said in response to questions emailed to her mother. “I mean, c’mon — how many kids get to bake on TV, and for Disney?” Continue reading “Students Whip Up a Spot on Disney Baking Show”

Teacher of Year Praised as ‘Amazing,’ ‘Beloved’

Amelia Cheatum

Amelia Cheatum is always happy to receive recognition for her work, but earning the Burbank Unified School District teacher of the year honor was extra special for the John Muir Middle School history teacher after seven challenging months of distance learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every teacher I work with, even at the other [BUSD] schools, everyone worked so hard, and I think this year we were forced to try new things,” said Cheatum, who teaches 7th- and 8th-graders. “Some things worked, some definitely didn’t, but I think this year was special because when I go back to the classroom in a few weeks, I have all of these digital tools that I plan on using that I never would have used before.”

Continue reading “Teacher of Year Praised as ‘Amazing,’ ‘Beloved’”

Departing Chief Recalls BPD’s Challenges, Reforms

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse will retire on Tuesday after decades in law enforcement. LaChasse came to the Police Department while it was facing allegations of discrimination and use of excessive force.

On Tuesday, Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse will trade in his badge and gun for a stack of travel brochures.

The Santa Clarita resident has spent several decades working in law enforcement, including more than 11 years leading the Burbank Police Department. Over time, LaChasse said, he’s collected plenty of Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines, filling his mind with images of travel destinations he’s wanted to visit but never had the time.

After his retirement next week, he will. His role will be filled by current Deputy Chief Michael Albanese until City Manager Justin Hess selects a long-term replacement.

Continue reading “Departing Chief Recalls BPD’s Challenges, Reforms”

Resident, BHS Alumna Launch ‘What the Deaf?!’ Podcast

Photo courtesy What the Deaf?! Productions
Burbank High School alumna Sarah Tubert and Burbank resident Carly Weyers launched a podcast dedicated to discussing their experiences as Deaf individuals.

“Nothing is off-limits,” Sarah Tubert signs in the first episode of her podcast. “We’ve heard everything.”
Then she corrects herself with a hint of humor: “No, we’ve seen everything.”
The moment appeared to set the tone of the “What the Deaf?!” podcast. Tubert, a 2011 graduate of Burbank High School, and local resident Carly Weyers host the series, whose first season ran from the beginning of the year until late February.
As indicated by Tubert’s comment, the pair hope the podcast provides an avenue for people who aren’t Deaf to ask questions. But Weyers and Tubert are also quick to emphasize that they don’t represent the entire Deaf community, pointing out that even between themselves, their experiences vary greatly.
Tubert became Deaf when she was 3 years old, after a surgeon severed her facial nerve during an operation, paralyzing the right side of her face and taking most of her hearing.
Continue reading “Resident, BHS Alumna Launch ‘What the Deaf?!’ Podcast”

A Veteran Photographer’s Gallery of Experiences

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Mitchell Haddad’s portfolio includes a number of pictures of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who spoke at the Gibson Amphitheatre in 2007. Haddad said that while he was rarely intimidated by public figures he photographed, he was often excited to work near them.

Mitchell Haddad loves the Dodgers enough to get arrested.
Growing up in Burbank, he would sneak into ballgames at Dodger Stadium by flashing fake tickets at the usher and hoping he wouldn’t get caught. Once, as a 17-year-old, he did, while trying to steal Hank Aaron’s uniform from the clubhouse. A security guard found him attempting to open the door with a butter knife.
Haddad, a John Burroughs High School alumnus, recalled in an interview that his mother wasn’t upset when she picked him up at the police station. In fact, she tried to explain her son’s behavior to the officers.
“He just loves baseball so much,” she told them. Haddad didn’t realize until decades later that his mother thought he had only been trying to sneak into a game early.
That love of baseball would cause him to return to the ballfield. When he was older, he walked into Dodger Stadium again. This time, he was armed with a Nikon camera and a fake press pass. Once he got in, he was free to take pictures of his heroes as he pleased.
And then, yet later, he started getting paid.

Continue reading “A Veteran Photographer’s Gallery of Experiences”

Batman Statue Placed in Downtown Burbank

Photo by Oscar Areliz / Burbank Leader

Visit Burbank, along with Burbank-based DC and Warner Bros. Studios, unveiled a new
7½ -foot tall, 600-pound statue of Batman last week in the AMC Walkway of downtown Burbank.
Funded by Visit Burbank, this signature public art piece of the iconic DC superhero makes an ideal selfie spot in the city. The colossal statue will help showcase Burbank as a leading tourist destination and will exemplify the city’s status as the “Media Capital of the World.”
Since appearing in the pages of Detective Comics No. 27 on March 30, 1939, Batman continues to leave his mark in every form of entertainment imaginable. The Batman statue is based on a drawing by world-renowned comic book artist and the publisher and chief creative officer of DC, Jim Lee. The design of the fan-favorite superhero was then digitally sculpted by Alejandro Pereira Ezcurra. The final larger-than-life statue, made from bronze, was built by artisans at Burbank-based American Fine Arts Foundry and Fabrication.
When visiting the newly installed Batman statue, remember to practice social distancing and wear a face mask.

Magnolia Park Works on Luring Holiday Shoppers

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Sheryl Coughlan, owner of Antiques on Magnolia, said she is concerned that some local small businesses will have an abnormal lack of business this holiday season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheryl Coughlan is worried about Magnolia Park this holiday season.
The owner of Antiques on Magnolia told the Leader in a phone interview that with coronavirus cases on the rise, some workers still unemployed and rollbacks of reopenings announced, local businesses will lose out on crucial income during a period when people are usually buying presents.
Black Friday, for example, is usually a good day for Coughlan’s business, as is Magnolia Park’s annual Holiday in the Park event, which would have been held Friday of this week were it not for the pandemic. In previous years, customers filed in for her art and jewelry sales, many of them hoping to find a Christmas present for a loved one.

Continue reading “Magnolia Park Works on Luring Holiday Shoppers”