Letters to the Editor

Opinion About Advocates
It appears that those advocating the diversity plan in our schools are more interested in teaching kids what to think rather than how to think.

Trent Sanders
La Cañada Flintridge


DEI Consultant Thanks Community for Its Support
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the many members of the greater La Cañada Unified School District community who have extended their support over the past several weeks — support for me, but more importantly, for the critical work of cultivating equitable spaces for learning where every student is seen, supported and feels a sense of belonging. Through the letters to the editor, comments during school board meetings and direct emails, students, parents, staff, alumni and community members have raised their voices in support of a humanizing approach to education, Continue reading “Letters to the Editor”

Diversity Plan’s Future Worries Some LCUSD Stakeholders

Outlook Valley Sun photo
Christina Hale-Elliott, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, is shown at one of her workshops during the 2019-2020 school year.

It was “Back to School Night” last week for the La Cañada Unified School District, and parents like Vanessa Rosas hunkered down Thursday evening to take in what was going to be a virtual presentation of the annual event, this year’s program emphasizing the distance learning platform that has gripped the community in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
She felt wary, as most parents do by now, of the way remote learning is affecting the morale and academic effectiveness of her youngsters, but when La Cañada High School 7/8 representatives dug in with a high-energy virtual presentation to help animate students and parents, she perked up.
Then her spirits crashed.
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Virus Stats Improve, but Don’t Permit Return to Campuses

Confirmed coronavirus cases continue to decline in Los Angeles County, a trend that has made local school district officials optimistic about being able to offer in-class instruction at the elementary level, but any hopes for reopening campuses in the near future were dashed Wednesday by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“At this point, [the Department of] Public Health will not be opening up our waiver process for schools,” Ferrer said in a statement. “We will be closely reviewing the guidance from the state and will be reviewing all options with [county supervisors] to ensure that schools are able to open as safely as possible for all children and staff.
“We do need to continue taking all of the steps that were taking these past few weeks so that our community transmission rates remain low enough for us to continue our recovery journey,” she added in the county’s update, “and a very important piece of that recovery journey is getting our children back to schools.”
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St. Francis Investigates Racist Comments During Virtual Mass

St. Francis High School officials said they continue to investigate hate-filled, racist posts that were anonymously sent during the school’s livestreamed Mass last Thursday, noting that the administration is “heartbroken and embarrassed” and committed to identifying those responsible.
The school is engaged in addressing racism-related issues and raising awareness among all its constituents, officials added, though they said SFHS students are not believed to be responsible for the comments.
Staff, students and community members expressed dismay when, during the school’s worship, a stream of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments flooded the online chat function and were visible to participants in the virtual Mass.
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LCHS Chamber Singers Get High-Profile Engagement

Photo courtesy Jeff Brookey
The La Cañada High School Chamber Singers will perform at the American Choral Directors Association national conference in March. Program director Jeff Brookey is pictured conducting singers during a performance last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education landscape throughout the nation, but there remains a constant at La Cañada High School.
The school’s choir program, headed by Jeff Brookey, is one of the most lauded in the area, having won national competitions and traveled internationally to perform at iconic venues in Europe, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Another prestigious honor can be added to that list. The school’s Chamber Singers were recently selected to perform in a concert session at the American Choral Directors Association’s national conference, which was to have been held in Dallas but will now be a virtual event due to the coronavirus and will be held March 17-20, 2021.
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Diversity Report Spurs LCUSD Board to Confront Inequity

File photo
Consultant Christina Hale-Elliott (right), who contracted with the LCUSD in September 2019, is pictured with Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.

When it comes to racial diversity, equity and inclusion, the La Cañada Unified School District has been given a road map to improve its grade.
LCUSD Governing Board members showed enthusiasm Tuesday for embracing the beginnings of a plan to improve inclusion, empathy, tolerance and much more throughout the district, after listening to findings gathered over the course of a year by Pasadena-based Christina Hale-Elliott. Hired in September 2019 as the district’s first diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, she is the founder of Elliott Educational Services.
For more than two hours, board members leaned in as Hale-Elliott summarized her findings, based on data collected via numerous surveys, interviews and focus groups involving teachers, staff, students and parents throughout the district at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The report also drew on quantitative data provided by the LCUSD and the California Department of Education website.

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District Set to Start School on Monday

The La Cañada Unified School District and its teachers reached an agreement on the distance learning model for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette reported during the governing board meeting on Tuesday.
Virtual learning will begin for all grade levels on Monday, Aug. 17, in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines preventing schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list from providing in-person instruction.
“We are committed to providing a world-class educational experience virtually, in small groups,” Sinnette said, “and then hopefully we get to the hybrid model and then ideally to a full resumption of school as we once realized it, hopefully within this year.”
Sinnette’s virtual presentation included scheduling information that had been previously discussed but included one major update.

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Local Basketball Star Wins Player of the Year Award

Andre Henry was one of 14 basketball players to earn the prestigious John R. Wooden award.

The legend of La Cañada Flintridge resident Andre Henry continues to grow as the recent St. Francis High School graduate earned one of the most prestigious high school basketball awards.
The UC Irvine-bound standout is now associated with an honor named for another legend after being selected as the John R. Wooden CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year last Friday. Other notable winners include Chatsworth Sierra Canyon’s Ziaire Williams, who committed to play at Stanford, and Lakewood Mayfair’s Josh Christopher, who will continue his career at Arizona State. Both were considered five-star recruits.
“I feel like I was recognized with future pros,” he said. “Those guys are future NBA players. I would say it is one of the biggest highlights of my high school career.
“Honestly, this is huge for me. I just feel like all the hard work I put in finally paid off and I got the recognition. It’s a huge honor to have my name in the same sentence as [John Wooden]. Some would argue he’s the greatest coach ever in any sport. It’s a dream come true. I’m truly speechless.
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LCUSD’s Plan for Reopening Takes Shape

After three hours of discourse and public comments on Tuesday, the La Cañada Unified School District’s plan for reopening started to come into focus for all grade levels.
Though no final decisions were made, the district’s governing board agreed with Superintendent Wendy Sinnette’s suggestions to continue developing a possible on-campus plan for transitional kindergarten through 6th grade and an improved distance learning model for grades 7-12.
The 2020-21 school year is scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 17, and the board is expected to make a decision regarding instruction in the fall during a special meeting on Tuesday, July 21, at 11:30 a.m. The district will have multiple plans in place to be ready for any scenario in a world with COVID-19.
Board President Joe Radabaugh, who worked with the reopening committee for secondary schools, said he wants to be sure they “can pivot between opening and closing [campuses], depending on the situation. Can we do it quickly? If we start online, can we move to in-person or hybrid? We have to figure out those models.
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LCUSD Changes Course, Will Appoint New Board Member

A temporary position on the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board is up for grabs after the four-member panel voted in favor of appointing one of 10 applicants who had previously interviewed for the position, reversing its June 17 decision to leave the seat vacant and allow voters to choose a new member in the November election.
“To me, the decision not to fill was the best outcome at that time,” board President Joe Radabaugh said during Tuesday’s virtual meeting in an effort to clarify what transpired during the previous session. “I did have regrets that we surprised applicants and others with the decision.
“But [after the meeting], I listened to feedback from the community. I know people didn’t have the full story. I realize fair points were being made. In closing, we value the trust and support of the community. Because of that, we felt it was important to agendize this item for more discussion and allow folks to weigh in.”
Most people who commented Tuesday expressed a preference for appointing a temporary board member. The position would still be permanently filled in the November election.
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