GUSD Again Halts On-Campus Activities

Photo courtesy GUSD
Some transitional and kindergarten students briefly returned for in-person classes at Horace Mann Elementary School this week, before the Glendale Unified School District suspended on-campus programs for the remainder of January.

In anticipation of a coronavirus surge believed to be exacerbated by the December holidays, the Glendale Unified School District on Monday is pausing all in-person activities on campuses for the remainder of January.
The district tentatively plans to resume these programs on Monday, Feb. 1, but those plans, as with most things in the era of the coronavirus, are fluid. The latest decision comes by “strong recommendation” — not mandate — from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that “all TK-12 schools in the county suspend in-person student instruction, services and activities during the month of January as much as possible,” according to the district.

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City to Rethink Mayoral Selection Process

Changes may be coming to the process through which the position of Glendale mayor is rotated among City Council members, in an effort to make it more predictable and less transactional.
The council directed at this week’s meeting that these changes be written out in ordinance form, for later consideration and approval. It also expects to consider an ordinance banning single-use plastics by municipal agencies in the future, after asking for that ordinance as well.
At Councilwoman Paula Devine’s suggestion, the council is likely to consider a policy that will organize mayoral hierarchy in a “zip line” fashion — that is, the council member who has waited the longest will serve as the next mayor for the year. Since two or three council members sometimes are elected at the same time, any ties that occur will be resolved on the basis of the number of votes they received in the election.

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GHS Pool Nearly Ready to Make a Splash

A project that was first conceived nearly a decade ago, the swimming pool being added to Glendale High School’s campus is just about ready to launch.
Pending approval from health inspectors, the pool is expected to be filled with water soon, after which the necessary sanitizing chemicals will be mixed and added to prepare it for use. The Glendale Unified School District anticipates that GHS’ swimming and water polo teams will be able to use it for workouts this spring.
“We’re getting close to wrapping it up,” said Hagop Kassabian, the GUSD administrator for planning, development and facilities. “All in all, I think we’re looking pretty good to have water in the pool by late February or early March.”

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Glendale Hospitals Being Stressed by Raging Coronavirus Surge

Hospital officials in Glendale are urging residents to commit to behavior that will significantly reduce their potential exposure to the coronavirus, as the explosive surge in COVID-19 cases that began in late November continues to push medical facilities to the brink.
Southern California has been at 0% availability for intensive care unit beds since late December, according to county Department of Public Health officials. The raging surge in daily new coronavirus cases continues to set records nearly every day as medical centers scramble to add personnel as they’ve reportedly turned away ambulances and others seeking emergency care.

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Mann School Gears Up for a Portion of Students to Return

The Glendale Unified School District is prepared to bring select students back for in-person instruction at Horace Mann Elementary School starting on Monday.
A portion of transitional kindergarten and regular kindergarten students will return to class at the elementary school, split into small groups so as to allow for proper social distancing and hygiene protocols. District officials plan to evaluate the return process and adapt to allow 1st- and 2nd-grade students to tentatively join them in the coming weeks.
The school will be making use of technology to allow students who remain at home under distance learning protocol to receive their instruction simultaneous to the
in-person teaching that will now happen.

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A Time of Pandemic, Protest, Change

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A large crowd marches down Central Avenue en route to Artsakh Avenue in support of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic in their conflict with Azerbaijan. The local Armenian diaspora’s efforts have included activism and donation drives.

For many, Friday, Jan. 1, represented a long-overdue turn of the page from a year that lived up to no one’s expectations.
From the beginning of 2020, news trickled into American airwaves and newsprint that a mysterious virus had secretly wreaked havoc throughout much of China and had begun spreading at uncontrolled levels through South Korea, Iran, Italy and Spain. Reports of overwhelmed hospitals, mass graves and widespread lockdowns also spread.
And then the accounts started coming out of New York City. And Seattle. And a well-known pork processing plant in South Dakota.
By March 11, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was declared to be a global pandemic. Locally, by March 13 — auspicious, indeed, as a Friday the 13th — school districts were closing, cities were declaring states of emergency and officials were openly discussing what would become the Safer at Home orders. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. Personal care services, entertainment venues and bars closed. Nonessential retailers had to close. The NBA suspended its season.

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GUSD Stays Course on Distance Learning

The Glendale Unified School District has committed to continuing distance teaching through at least March 12, with the current surge in coronavirus cases essentially pulling the plug on any potential plans to add more in-person programming at the start of 2021.
Superintendent Vivian Ekchian and the district’s board of education emphatically made that pledge at last week’s meeting, the last of 2020. As for wider in-person instruction, officials also acknowledged the very real possibility that they could move the goalposts further away as they approach March, depending on how Los Angeles County fares through the pandemic.
“We will continue to engage in distance learning,” Ekchian said. “We are not interested in bringing more personnel back to our campuses — teachers, counselors, nurses, itinerant personnel, teacher specialists — during a surge. We will have to hope for the best. March 12 is the end of the third quarter; it seems to be the best next step in terms of our making safe decisions for all employees, students and the community. We are not making decisions beyond that, because much can change between now and then.”

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Language Books Find Home in Little Free Libraries at Franklin

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Vitanza
Franklin Elementary School mom Elizabeth Vitanza showcases French books she has contributed to the French little free library outside of the school.

When schools closed across the board in March, children immediately felt the loss of a storied amenity of youth and education — their school libraries.
That loss became especially pronounced for dual immersion students, whose days spent learning and conversing in their target languages are frequently complemented by reading literature in that language. Unless individual schools were able to organize the resources for a book drop-off system, there was no access to those free books.
Franklin Elementary School — home to Spanish, German, Italian and French dual immersion in Glendale Unified School District — found a way around that, thanks to its school foundation.
“Having access to books in those target languages is important,” explained Elizabeth Vitanza, a Franklin parent who is a French teacher at the Marlborough School in Los Angeles. “With COVID, and moving to distance learning this year, I was thinking in the spring, ‘How do we get books to these kids?’ Our kids would bring home different books every week.

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Your Best Wishes for Future? Share Them at the Alex

Photos by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
In employing the Alex Theatre’s gate as the Wishing Wall, Glendale Arts officials say they want to give residents and fans of the venue a chance to hope for a better 2021.

In need of a small outlet to unload your hope on the world as a largely interminable 2020 hurtles to an end?
The Alex Theatre has you covered. Or rather, it is inviting people to cover its front gate with their hopes, dreams and well wishes for 2021 — the start of which, many believe, signals the beginning of the end for the coronavirus pandemic that upended virtually all plans for this year. Passersby can take a paper tag from the bunch in front of the theater, scribble out their message and tie it alongside others on the metal gate — the Wishing Wall. People also may submit messages so that Glendale Arts staffers can post them on their behalf.

“The Alex has symbolized so many positive things for the community, and it’s done so for 95 years,” said Maria Sakahian, a managing director of Glendale Arts, which operates the theater. “Since we’re not able to open those gates and invite the public inside, we thought, ‘Why don’t we find a way for the physical structure to have that effect and nurture that feeling for the community, when people need it more than ever?’”
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Local Craft Beer Scene Is Fermenting Nicely

Photo courtesy Chris Cesnek
Paperback Brewing founders Chris Cesnek and Brandon Monroe said such ventures allow craft brewers like themselves to share a little bit of their personalities with their customers. The venue, which opened in July, is Glendale’s second craft brewery.

Arising from a hobby practiced in basements or garages, the craft beer industry continues to thrive nationwide and in California, and Glendale seems to be putting its own stamp on the heavily localized trade.
The city’s second brewery opened its doors this past summer, years after the first showed up. More craft-themed taprooms are cropping up, too, after aficionados gathered under one or two roofs for years. And those local fans seem to have rallied this year, despite the pandemic, to send one of the bars close to the top of an annual “best of” ranking, bringing the Glendale name to the readers of a national magazine for enthusiasts.

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