LCHS 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony

Quest Swan, Beckett Sheffield, Dani Ghiraagosian, Ryan Talbert and River Wokosin

Due to social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols, La Canada High School 8th graders had their promotion ceremonies divided into two separate events – one for School 3 and the other for School 4, both of which were held on campus on June 2.
After opening with “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the 7/8 Band and Orchestra, the flag salute was led by ASB President Seth Larsen and Claire Lin for School 3; Kelly Sellman led the flag salute for School 4. The National Anthem was sung by the 7/8 Honor Choir. A special solo (Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up”) was sung by Kat Sears for School 3, and the trio of Kate Chun, Vani Gupta and Kelly Sellman sang Pink’s “Cover Me in Sunshine” during the School 4 ceremony.
Promotion addresses were delivered by Seth Larsen in School 3 and Vani Gupta in School 4.
There were also special award presentations during the respective ceremonies. The Scoville-Tupper Award was presented to Talia Sverdlik and Kelly Sellman, the Principal’s Award went to David Gilles and Michael Cho, the Excellence in Scholarship Award was presented to Maddy McClure and Luke Rogez, and the Participation and Engagement Award went to Lorelei Rocca and Sofia Flores-Sirolli.
“The accomplishments so many of you have made up to this point are to be remembered and cherished,” LCHS 7/8 Principal Jarrett Gold told the students. “Always believe in yourself and what you can do. Remember that you can accomplish anything you want with desire, drive and hard work. I am confident that every one of you has the ability to change the world. Don’t settle, don’t quit and never give up on any and all dreams you have.”

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LCHS Salutes Graduates, and Gratitude Is Major Theme

Maya White, Pru Yontrarak, ben Lee and Yasmine Kaki

The Rose Bowl Stadium packed with more than 90,000 spectators is a sight to behold, but it was just as grand last week when it was the site of an unforgettable 2021 La Cañada High School commencement ceremony and attendees filled barely more than 1% of the landmark’s capacity.
About 1,450 people gathered — socially distanced, of course — at the stadium to celebrate a senior class that spent the majority of its final high school year at home in front of a computer screens and listening to teachers via Zoom. Schools throughout the state pivoted to distance learning in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, creating a new generation of learners known as “Zoomers.”
After a difficult year marked by a coronavirus that killed more than 24,000 Los Angeles County residents, destructive wildfires in the area and a presidential election that divided a nation, it was perhaps natural that the theme of all of the commencement speakers was gratitude.
“This last year has been anything but simple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires, the presidential election and the Black Lives Matter movement to name a few,” graduating senior Seema Kavali told her classmates. “If there’s any takeaway from this whole experience, it’s that we have learned to be appreciative, creative and patient, tools we can carry along with us as we continue our journey in life.
“We were forced to grow up quickly and process the world unfolding around us. What you go through now, tomorrow, next year and so on prepares you for what has to come next. I am so proud of all of us.”
Madeleine Reinoso expressed a similar sentiment in her speech, saying that “the year was far from perfect, but it was ours. Regardless of all the hardships and challenges we faced this past year, we persevered and made it here today.”
Jack Salcido and Noah Truong teamed up to deliver a speech that introduced some levity and described a day in the life of a senior “Zoomer, defined by their reclusive nature, lack of an official SAT score and hypersomnia despite waking at 11 a.m. every single [day]. Zoomers are the result of nearly unlimited screen time and a year of isolation.”
The two Spartans, like the entire class of 2021, made the most of their distance learning experience and reminded classmates of what the group accomplished. They celebrated ways in which the senior class was a pioneer — such as being the first to have its own Chromebooks provided by the La Cañada Unified School District, to take physics freshman year, to begin class at 8:30 a.m. all four years instead of the “dreaded” 7:30 a.m. start time that was changed four years ago, and to have a prom held on campus.
Principal Jim Cartnal gave the final speech and returned to the theme of gratitude, saying, “That we’re here is the victory. Together, in person, on one of the grandest stages in the land. And that we are here says a great deal about who we are as a learning community and what we value.”
“While many other school communities struggled with access, struggled with engagement and struggled with campus cohesion, our students and families remain committed to our core value that education matters, learning matters and that you matter,” Cartnal said. “ … Other hard times will no doubt come, but you know how to respond because you kept working, you kept applying yourself, you kept caring and you gave everything that you could to be successful, and I’m so grateful.”

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LCUSD Diversity Plan Takes 
a Step Forward

After much work, deliberation and delay, the La Cañada Unified School District took a monumental step in its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative and is ready to push forward the plan that has been in the works since last August.

The LCUSD Governing Board unanimously adopted two documents pertaining to DEI during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, including one that details the district’s objectives, guiding principles, DEI definitions and commitment statement.

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a Step Forward”

LCHS Among Best in U.S. News Annual Rankings

The U.S. News and World Report published its annual best high schools rankings last week and La Cañada High School made the grade with an exemplary scorecard of 98.74, placing it 10th out of 659 qualifying schools in Los Angeles and 27th out of 2,598 in the state.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette was “thrilled” to congratulate LCHS for its “exceptional performance” and credited the students, LCUSD employees and families for the honor of being recognized by a high profile publication, which ranked La Cañada No. 225 in the nation out of 17,857 schools.
“LCUSD always looks to research-based indicators to assess our performance, and we recognize that this is just one measure, but we are proud of our high school’s achievement here and wish to recognize the performances of our students, teachers, staff and administration,” Sinnette said in a statement. “We are also grateful to our families for their support, which continually allows all of our schools to thrive.”
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LCUSD Cautiously Advances DEI Initiative

The issue that is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) dominated the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board meeting yet again on Tuesday with dozens of stakeholders reiterating their stance against the initiative.
The board was expected to discuss and adopt the district’s DEI framework and guiding principles for the initiative, as well as its mission statement and definitions, but the panel balked at fully adopting each document due to the language used and a perceived lack of clarity.
Board members ultimately decided to table the framework for adoption at a future meeting, but they did partially approve the other agenda item. They did move forward on approving the mission statement and definition of diversity, but asked staff to work further on the definitions for equity and inclusion.
Josh Epstein, who was elected to the Governing Board last November, said he was conflicted about the decision and wanted the community to know that there is a sense of urgency in moving forward with the DEI initiative.
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St. Bede Given Green Light to Demolish, Rebuild Parish Hall

Photo courtesy Jim Saake
The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the demolition of the St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church parish hall, which served as the church from 1952-1968, despite the objections of several residents and parishioners.

The beloved parish hall at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church in La Cañada Flintridge is one step closer to being demolished and replaced with a new building that would better serve parishioners and the school.
Despite hearing pleas from community members requesting for preservation and modernization rather than replacement, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved three resolutions last week giving St. Bede a conditional use permit that allows demolition of the Spanish mission-style building and redevelopment of the courtyard, a tree removal permit and a variance to allow for the reduction of parking onsite parking spaces.
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Late Night Hours, Cannabis Discussed By Planning Commission

The La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission continued its discussion and review of the special regulations portion of the city zoning code, which is in the process of being updated and reorganized to keep it consistent with other chapters, in a special meeting last week.
Patricia Blumen, a consultant from City Planning, picked up where she left off from last month’s meeting where she presented the first 17 chapters of special regulations, whether they are permitted outright or require discretionary review.
The first chapter presented turned out to be the most discussed item by the commissioners, who questioned whether having a portion dedicated to late night hours was necessary. Blumen, who worked with city staff on the updates, added a late night hours chapter that would establish criteria and regulations to minimize potential impacts of non-residential uses operating late night hours that are located near residential properties.
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LCUSD Presents Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Framework

Nearly six months after including it as one of her goals for the academic year, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette presented to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board the framework, commitment statement and three-year implementation plan of the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative on Tuesday.
A virtual special meeting was held to allow the board to dive deep into the documents submitted by district staff. There were a total of 25 pages that included the district’s objectives and reasoning for DEI. The framework was a first-read item on the agenda, and the commitment statement, created to define DEI, and three-year plan were discussion items.
“It’s our desire to clearly articulate what this DEI work is, what its objectives are and in the design, we are also affirming and characterizing what it is not,” Sinnette said.
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LCHS Extols Reopening, but Pandemic Still Looms

Photos by Chris Sutton / Outlook Valley Sun
La Cañada High School students, including Kai Gunderssen (above), returned to campus on Tuesday. However, four positive coronavirus tests forced three classes to shut down. Also, a pipe burst in the main office which flooded the school’s mail room.

The La Cañada Unified School District officially welcomed back students in grades 7-12 on Tuesday but teachers and students were also quickly reminded that COVID-19 has not gone anywhere.
Superintendent told the Outlook Valley Sun Wednesday that three classes at La Cañada High School were shut down due to four positive coronavirus tests — one student, two coaches and one staff member — and the cohorts of students possibly exposed to the virus must quarantine for two weeks.
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LCHS Seniors Celebrate Return to Campus; Rose Bowl Graduation

Photo by Mary Emily Myers / Outlook Valley Sun
La Cañada High School’s student government members, who were among the seniors on campus yesterday in preparation for their official return to school, include (front row, from left) Senior Class President Seema Kayali, JT Salcido, ASB President Andrew Han, Colin Melillo, Andrew Chi, Ben Lee and Emaan Qazi. Back: Gordon Cucullu, Alison Flynn, Keaton Comstock and Cari James.

After more than a year of isolation and cancelled activities, it felt like a triumphant return to La Cañada High School for seniors on Wednesday with more promising days ahead: a return to limited on-campus learning, a slew of scheduled fun activities and an in-person graduation ceremony to be held at the Rose Bowl for the senior class of 2021.
During the “Seniors Return to School” event held outdoors at Spartan Stadium, about 150 seniors excitedly gathered to learn details about the remaining end-of-year activities, procedures for graduation and, above all, to absorb some inspiration to fight off what’s become known as Zoom gloom.

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