City, LCUSD Meet Oct. 14 Over Sports Fields’ Use

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

La Cañada Flintridge and school district officials were scheduled to meet on Oct. 14 to resume the discussion surrounding the joint use agreement between the community and sports leagues.
The local joint use committee — which includes La Cañada Unified School District leaders and members of the LCF City Council, municipal commissions and staff — will hold an in-person meeting at City Hall at 2:30 p.m. to discuss possible amendments to the agreement, most notably the time when youth sports teams can begin using local facilities.
Continue reading “City, LCUSD Meet Oct. 14 Over Sports Fields’ Use”

District Updates COVID-19 Safety Plan

First published in the Sept. 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada Unified School District modified its reopening and safety plan for the year in an effort to mitigate any more possible disruptions to in-person instruction due to COVID-19.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently gave schools the option of adjusting their quarantine policy to allow unvaccinated students in kindergarten through 12th grade who were exposed to an asymptomatic person testing positive with the coronavirus during a school day to remain on campus. Unvaccinated students who are in close contact with a positive case while at school are not required to go home and quarantine as long as both were seen wearing their masks properly. The exposed unvaccinated student is required to wear their mask indoors and outdoors except when eating or drinking. They also must practice social distancing whenever their mask is off.
Continue reading “District Updates COVID-19 Safety Plan”

LCUSD Celebrates Full Return to School

Photo by Mary Emily Myers / Outlook Valley Sun La Cañada High seniors enjoyed returning to a normal, five-day bell schedule and were welcomed with an early breakfast hosted by ASB, which includes Katharine Franklin (front row, from left), ASB President Isabella Oh, Leslie Dick, Shreya Anand, Emma Donaghy, Shaina Clorfeine and Nicole Kim. Back: Axel Frame, Jack Kim, Andrew Shaklan, Ty Reynolds, Brandon Cho, Sophia Penuela, Brooke Cooper and Niki Samudrala.

The La Cañada Unified School District officially reopened for business on Monday, giving students and teachers a semblance of normal with a five-day-a-week bell schedule for the first time in 17 months.
“It was great,” La Cañada High School Principal Jim Cartnal told the Outlook Valley Sun on Tuesday. “I checked in with the kids all day Monday and [Tuesday] and the general sense was that it is super great to be back. Students enjoyed meeting their teachers and being back in the rhythm of school.”
For some, it was a whole new experience. From transitional kindergarteners to 7th- and 10th-graders, some students had never set foot on the campus, let alone attend a class in person at their new school site.

Continue reading “LCUSD Celebrates Full Return to School”

LCUSD Has Plan to Keep Campuses Safe From Virus

After 18 months in which it mostly provided virtual instruction — with a stretch of limited on-campus education — the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to return to a traditional, five-day in-person schedule beginning Monday, Aug. 16, with a few notable differences in its health and safety plan.
Meeting in person for only the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the LCUSD Governing Board voted 5-0 on Tuesday in favor of adopting the district School Reopening and Safety Plan for the 2021-22 school year that adheres to the recommendations made by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Continue reading “LCUSD Has Plan to Keep Campuses Safe From Virus”

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.”

MORE PHOTOS

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.

Continue reading “LCUSD Diversity Plan Takes 
a Step Forward”

More Students — and Sports — Returning to LCUSD

Photos courtesy Jason Sarceda
The La Cañada High School varsity football team had its first official practice of the year on Monday. The players practiced in helmets on Monday and put on pads for the first time in nearly a year on Wednesday.

Nearly a year after closing its school sites to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the La Cañada Unified School District took another step closer to returning to normalcy this week by welcoming 4th-graders back to campus for limited in-person instruction.
The district will complete its elementary reopening of in-person instruction by bringing back 5th graders today and 6th graders on Monday, March 8.
“We are so excited to welcome back to school our 4th-graders on the hybrid schedule this past Monday and Tuesday,” LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said in an email. “The expanded reopening went really smoothly and helped pave the way for the return of 5th-graders on Thursday and 6th-graders on March 8. We are so grateful to our teachers and staff who have supported these transitions back to in-person instruction.
“We have missed our students immensely over the past year and know that the return to in-person instruction is a priority for the entire LCUSD community.”
Continue reading “More Students — and Sports — Returning to LCUSD”

LCUSD Prepares Wider Campus Return Amid Cautious Rollout

‘They’re So Tall!’ 3rd Grade Welcomed Back

Outlook Valley Sun Photo
Energized students are dismissed from La Cañada Elementary School on Wednesday, the first day of an optional return to in-person instruction for 3rd graders. LCUSD is one of the few districts in Southern California to offer on-campus instruction.

The sight of 3rd-graders having their temperature checked before entering campus might not be a normal one for La Cañada Elementary Principal Emily Blaney, but it certainly is a welcome one. Her school, along with Paradise Canyon and Palm Crest, provided in-person instruction to children in 3rd grade for the first time in 11 months on Tuesday.
“We haven’t seen them in a whole year,” Blaney said of the 3rd-graders. “They’re so tall. We just noticed how much they grew.”
Continue reading “LCUSD Prepares Wider Campus Return Amid Cautious Rollout”

LCUSD Ready to Bring Back 3rd-Graders

The La Cañada Unified School District governing board unanimously voted last week to expand on-campus services by welcoming back 3rd-grade students on Feb.16 for in-person instruction.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the move was possible because nearly half of families with 3rd-graders opted for the district’s virtual learning academy for the entire school year. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health permits schools to open for specialized services as long as the number of students on campus does not exceed 25% of total enrollment.
“I’m just very appreciative of the administrative team that’s worked so hard to implement all the protocols,” Sinnette told the Outlook Valley Sun on Tuesday. “I think it’s been fabulous that we’ve maintained a really positive and collaborative working relationship with both [the teachers and classified employees associations].”
Continue reading “LCUSD Ready to Bring Back 3rd-Graders”

Board President Puglia Dives Into Challenges for Schools

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board President Kaitzer Puglia (center) is flanked by board members Joe Radabaugh and Dan Jeffries at a previous meeting. Puglia was recently named to lead the board this year, one expected to present numerous difficulties amid the pandemic.

The La Cañada Unified School District governing board has hit the ground running in 2021 having already convened for three virtual meetings the past month. The challenges from 2020 carried over into the new year, and recently appointed board president Kaitzer Puglia is ready to tackle them and move the district forward.
“[January] and [February] are really tough,” Puglia said, “but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations are coming. We have got to take care of our teachers, staff and administrators. They are working so hard, and we need to take care of them so they can take care of our students.”
Getting students back into classrooms safely is one of several goals for the new board president, but as a professor in education and child development at Pasadena City College, Puglia understands that can happen only when the concerns of those providing instruction are addressed.
Continue reading “Board President Puglia Dives Into Challenges for Schools”