PEF Honors the Heart of PUSD Schools With BBQ

First published in the Dec. 2 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.

To honor those who serve as the heart of our public schools, Pasadena Educational Foundation kicked off its 50th year with a “Thanks to You BBQ.”
The event was hosted by Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Brian McDonald. A native of Jamaica, McDonald and his barbecue team grilled up jerk chicken for more than 300 Pasadena Unified School District employees who work in the Ed Center, Maintenance and Operations, the offices of Food & Nutrition Services, school principals and assistant principals.
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Westridge Holds Annual Yam Festival

First published in the Dec. 2 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.

Photos by Toni LeBel / The Outlook

Every fall, students at Westridge and their parents get creative in their kitchens and whip up a variety of dishes and baked goods that feature that oddly-shaped, sweet orange tuber, the yam.
Among the foods served up by the parents at this year’s event were yam fries, pies, soups, mochi and ice cream, couscous with yams, candied yams, yamadoodle cookies and yam biryani.

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Local Woman Receives ‘Unsung Hero’ Honor

Juanita De Vaughn

Local resident Juanita De Vaughn was recognized by Assemblymember Chris Holden and the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) in a virtual ceremony as the 41st Assembly District’s 2021 Unsung Hero for her positive impact in the community.
“Juanita De Vaughn’s contributions to our community will have a powerful impact for years to come,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Through her dedication and hard work, she carries on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and is an inspiration for future generations. I have known Juanita for many years and it is an honor and a privilege to recognize her.”
De Vaughn was born in Boligee, Alabama, where she began her career as a lifelong educator and civil rights activist. She taught at the Industrial School for Girls and Boys in Alabama, and worked as a dietician at Talladega College and as a nutritionist for the Head Start program in Birmingham.
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PUSD Moves To Safely Reopen Middle and High Schools

Brian McDonald

The Pasadena Unified School District and United Teachers of Pasadena (UTP) reached an agreement on reopening middle and high schools for in-person instruction, setting the date for student cohorts to begin returning to campus on April 20.
“We’re very pleased to come to this agreement with UTP,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald. “Teachers and other employees represented by UTP are a vital link to student learning. Our goal has always been to work collaboratively with our labor partners in coming to a solution that benefits our entire PUSD community.”
As previously announced, PUSD student cohorts in preschool through second grade will begin returning April 13. Student cohorts in grades 3-5 return April 20.
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High School Football Kicks Off; Rose Bowl Hosts Prep Games

Photo courtesy David Thomas
Tobey Schmidt propelled the Maranatha High varsity football team to a 46-7 victory over visiting La Habra Whittier Christian last Friday. The junior quarterback threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns and ran for two scores.

The Southern California sports scene was abuzz the last two weeks, and it wasn’t so much the Lakers dominating the Western Conference nor the Dodgers solid start to spring training. It was the official return of high school football, and what a return it was, especially for Maranatha High School.
The Minutemen, coached by former NFL standout LaVar Arrington, opened their season at home with a 46-7 rout over Olympic League opponent La Habra Whittier Christian last Friday.
Tobey Schmidt, who transferred from high school sports powerhouse Mater Dei of Santa Ana, turned in a stellar debut performance. The junior quarterback completed 28 of 37 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two scores. All four of his passing touchdowns were to speedy sophomore receiver Derek Ganter Jr.
Maranatha (1-0 overall record) will host Heritage Christian of Northridge in a league contest on Friday, March 26, at 2:30 p.m. The Warriors (1-1 overall) are coming off a 24-19 victory over Sun Valley Village Christian.

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Rally Calls for Sports Restart

Photo courtesy Erika Foy
Local residents who participated in a Pasadena “Let Them Play” rally included (from left) Caleb Buchanan, Milo Orona, Luke Cronthall, Santi Goldthwait, Ryan Liddy, Erika Foy, Aly Pernecky, Catherine Giddings, Makena Giddings, Kayla Giddings and Grace Garrity.

Car horns blared and balloons bobbled in a light breeze on Friday, January 15 when several dozen young athletes, their coaches and parents participated in a statewide “Let Them Play, California,” rally, which urged state officials to allow for youth sports to begin immediately.
Locally, the event was organized by Aly Pernecky, Erika Foy and Angela Buchanan and held at Blair High School at the corner of Glenarm St. and Marengo Ave.
“Public health is about everyone,” said Foy. “The public policy to manage the pandemic should not burden one group over the other. Our kids are carrying the burden more than they should and their developmental process is being deeply affected by the shutdowns with no school or sports. It is important our public officials listen to the community it is representing and to those who are living with the consequences of these policy decisions.”

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PFAR Giving Mobilizes Realtors for School Meal Distributions

Del Lile

Lynwen Hughes Boatman

Partnering with the Pasadena Educational Foundation, PFAR Giving recently mobilized local Realtors to assist in the distribution of meals to families at Field Elementary and McKinley. The three-day volunteer effort took place as the real estate community served alongside district staff who were also preparing for the school year.
Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors introduced PFAR Giving in May of 2020 to further plant its investment within the community.
“Realtors are the cornerstone of the community and PFAR is committed to being a valuable resource to its communities,” said PFAR President Eddie Ramirez. “It’s very exciting to see our Realtors lean into this wonderful opportunity of service to continue our support of educators and families during this unprecedented time.”
For more details about PFAR Giving, visit pfar.org/give or email giving@pfar.org.

PUSD Superintendent Finding Positives in a Difficult Time

Brian McDonald

Like many other districts in the area, the Pasadena Unified School District began the academic year with remote learning on Monday, in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines preventing schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list from delivering in-person instruction.
Closures in March due to the coronavirus forced many schools to pivot into uncharted territory with distance learning, but the PUSD believes it’s ready and is optimistic about the road ahead.
“We’re excited to see our students reconnect, learn and advance in the new school year,” Superintendent Brian McDonald said in a letter to the community this week. “Although we are beginning with extraordinary circumstances, the entire PUSD team is committed to providing a quality education for all of our students. We’re eager to engage students in meaningful learning so that every student has opportunities to fulfill their potential.”
However, he recognized that there may be a few challenges and asked parents and students to be patient as the district works through them.

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Heading Down the Home Stretch of the School Year

By Brian McDonald
PUSD superintendent

Brian McDonald

Gov. Newsom released the state’s revised May budget proposal for 2020-21 that seeks to avoid permanent cuts to public education while dealing with the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on the state’s economy. For PUSD this means that instead of facing a projected $35 million in reduction in state funding, we now estimate a $15 million reduction in state funding. We are examining in detail the revised budget and will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and educators in the coming weeks. Budgets are a reflection of values, and we are asking the state and federal governments to show their commitment to students and the future of this country.
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