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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CIS Academy Teacher Nominated for Prestigious Educator Award

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many educators to pivot in their teaching methods and be even more creative in reaching and supporting students. In the midst of what has been a chaotic experience for many, the Pasadena Unified School District has announced some news that shines a light on the unwavering commitment that CIS Academy teacher, Gareth Siegel, displays every day. For his efforts, Siegel has been nominated for the esteemed Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award.
This prestigious honor is “in recognition of your impact as an educator, leader and role model,” according to the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).
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Maranatha High School Using 3D Printers to Help Combat Coronavirus

Photo courtesy Maranatha
Maranatha High School teacher Miguel Almena is utilizing a lab at the school to create quality filtration masks to help healthcare workers in their fight against COVID-19.

Maranatha High School has embarked on a project to help in the fight against COVID-19, as the school’s TILE (Technology Integration Learning Environment) Lab, under the direction of Maranatha faculty member Miguel Almena, is utilizing its 3D printers to create reusable protective face masks for medical professionals who are facing critical shortages of necessary protective gear.
Almena learned of one such need first-hand from a friend of his wife who is a nurse at Kaiser Hospital in Downey. She shared that they were facing a shortage of protective face masks and requested Maranatha’s help with 3D printing of about 80 high-filtration masks.
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Westridge Dean Dies After Contracting COVID-19

Carol van Zalingen

Carol van Zalingen, Westridge’s Lower and Middle School dean of student support, died on Tuesday morning, April 14, from complications related to COVID–19. She passed away just after 4 a.m. at Huntington Memorial Hospital, Westridge officials said.
According to the school, van Zalingen joined Westridge in 2008 as the 8th-grade English teacher and in 2015 transitioned to the role of dean of Lower and Middle School student support.
“This latter role combined her exquisite talent as an educator and her seemingly bottomless capacity for empathy and caring,” a Westridge statement said. “In the classroom she was known to connect in a very special way with each of her students. Her colleagues described her as ‘a safe space for students and adults.’ She was known as gentle and wise, always reaching out to help others in a supportive and non-judgmental manner. She never wanted a light shined in her direction, but her ability to listen, be present, and hold time and space for students and friends was uncanny. And Carol was a master at helping girls progress along a path to being independent learners and finding and following a positive personal narrative.
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