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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‘In-Person’ Graduation Date Set For LCHS Seniors

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
With hopes that COVID-19 cases will continue falling, district school officials said they are committed to providing an in-person graduation ceremony for seniors in June. Last year, seniors had to suffice with a drive-thru ceremony (above).

With the final stages of reopening schools for limited instruction nearly complete, the La Cañada Unified School District is shifting its focus to a specific group of students.
“We want to prioritize [La Cañada High School] seniors,” said Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.
The district announced late last week a list of events to celebrate its seniors. Student leaders and administrators are hopeful that public health officials will continue to ease restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to dramatically fall after an alarming winter surge. With coronavirus metrics improving locally, Los Angeles County is not far off from moving out of the most restrictive purple tier, which indicates widespread infection, into the less-restrictive red tier, which would allow more on-campus activities.
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School Board Approves Grades 7-12 Return to Campus

Photo courtesy USC-VHH
During their first scheduled round of COVID-19 vaccines last week, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and LCUSD Executive Director of Personnel Services Debra Cradduck took a moment to join USC-VHH Chief Nursing Officer Theresa Murphy.

The La Cañada Unified School District officially completed its elementary reopening on Monday with the return of 6th-graders and is scheduled to have the remainder of its students back on campus after spring break on Tuesday, April 13.
The governing board unanimously voted, 4-0, to approve one of three hybrid schedules presented and gave Superintendent Wendy Sinnette flexibility to set a date for teachers and staff to return to La Cañada High School. President Kaitzer Puglia was not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Sinnette said negotiations are ongoing with the teachers association and she said that the plan is to have them return one week before the break for “logistical planning.”
“We do need staff to fully return to the workplace,” she said. “There’s a lot that needs to be set up.”

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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.”
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LCHS Athletes Back in Action After 11-Month Hiatus

Photos courtesy Eric Danielson
Jaden Milbrodt participated in La Cañada High School’s first sporting event in 11 months on Tuesday, when the school hosted a cross-country time trial for LCHS and South Pasadena runners at Hahamongna Park. More sporting events are expected to come soon after the recent decline in COVID-19 cases.

Local parents and students were at Hahamongna Park on Tuesday to witness the first La Cañada High School athletic event in 11 months, and more competitions are certainly to come.
The school hosted a Rio Hondo League time trial for cross-country runners from South Pasadena and La Cañada. San Marino, Pasadena Blair and Monrovia will participate in the 3-mile run Thursday afternoon. Each school was designated a time to avoid large groups of athletes running at the same time.
LCHS junior varsity cheerleaders created signs supporting all runners, and members of the varsity cheer squad cheered for the athletes crossing the finish line.
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Miss LCF and 2021 Court

Katharine Franklin (center) was crowned Miss La Cañada Flintridge during a unique drive-thru ceremony at LCHS on Saturday afternoon. She is pictured with princesses (from left) Kyra Aitelli, Nadia Chung, Clara Henriod and Jenna Milbrodt. All five court members are juniors at La Cañada High School.

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.
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Palm Crest Names Founders Day Recipients

PTAs throughout California recently gave Founders Day awards to volunteers, teachers and/or staff members in special recognition of outstanding service to children and youth. On Tuesday, the Palm Crest Elementary PTA announced its 2020-21 Founders Day Award recipients. The five individuals honored include parent volunteers Ricardo Mendoza and Jennifer Wolpert, PCR technologist Omar Torres, and teachers Kelly Hu (5th grade) and Joan Patterson (1st grade).

Next in Line: COVID Vaccines for Residents 65 and Older

Californians aged 65 years and older have moved up in the long line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that they are now eligible for the scarce vaccine.
“There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences,” he said in a statement. “To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccines into the state.”
Though many health-care workers and long-term care residents — who remain as the highest priority — have yet to be vaccinated due to a slow rollout, state officials said giving individuals 65 years and older — about 6.6 million residents — eligibility could relieve hospitals flooded with coronavirus patients.
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LCUSD Mulls Closing Campus Activities Amid Virus Spike

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
The LCUSD governing board discussed the suspension of on-campus athletic activities at the high school for the remainder of January due to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County.

In its first official meeting of the year, the La Canada Unified School District governing board had much to discuss since it last convened on Dec. 15.
In the past month, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have spiked throughout Los Angeles County at an alarming rate, and the board deliberated over the possible suspension of the few on-campus activities currently underway, most notably those at La Cañada High School, on Tuesday.
Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Department of Public Health director, strongly recommended to district leaders in a conference call last week that they shut down schools for the remainder of the month due to the holiday surge.
The Los Angeles Unified School District shut down all of its campuses last month, and other districts have followed its lead, especially after last week’s call with public health officials.
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