LCUSD Diversity Ideas Prompt Dissent, Calls for Caution

More than a month after a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant presented her extensive findings to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, and a week after the LCUSD entrusted Superintendent Wendy Sinnette with overseeing progress on DEI, parents and community members have galvanized over the matter — some in opposition.
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Council Candidate Schultz Reaped Most Early Donations

Burbank City Council hopeful Nick Schultz raised more than $25,000 in campaign contributions from May 3 to June 30, according to city records, by far the most for any current council candidate for the first period in which donations were reported.
The California deputy attorney general’s campaign gained $7,000 of those funds through a loan from himself and an additional $500 of his own money during that period. Contributions could not be received before May 3.
Among donations of more than $100 — which require identification of the donor — only $550 came from people with Burbank addresses, not including Schultz himself.
Disability services provider Konstantine Anthony had the second-most campaign dollars at nearly $15,500, including a total of $1,000 from himself and his treasurer. He also had the highest percentage of small-dollar donations, with about 27% of contributions he received during the period being less than $100.

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Coffee Cube’s Trailer Stolen Over Holiday Weekend

Photo courtesy Coffee Cube
Representatives of Burbank-based startup Coffee Cube are asking the community to keep an eye out for their trailer, which houses their mobile coffee bar and was stolen last weekend.

Burbank-based Coffee Cube had one of its signature red trailers stolen from the startup’s property last weekend, representatives say.
The trailer, which Coffee Cube uses as a mobile coffee and pastry bar, was stolen from the business’ headquarters at 2121 Kenmere Ave. sometime between 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, and 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, according to Sgt. Derek Green, public information officer for the Burbank Police Department.
The trailer was not attached to a vehicle at the time, though the hitch had been locked, according to Jhairo Echevarria, marketing director for Coffee Cube, which operates a store in Canoga Park and offers coffee services to offices.

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Providence High Helps Students Engage Safely With Social Media

The era of COVID-19 has left most Americans isolated at home with their own electronic devices, increasing the use of social media, especially among adolescents.
And the only school in the nation governed by a health-care system is doing its part to help its students navigate past the pitfalls of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, where young users sometimes put up deceptive faces and bullying is common.
Providence High School, which is affiliated with the Providence hospital chain, recently became the first school in the state to form a partnership with Half the Story, a nonprofit organization that believes in digital well-being and encourages youth to share their lives unfiltered — their passions, hidden talents and struggles — to connect with others on a more human level.


“Social media use was relevant before the pandemic, and is even more relevant now,” said Providence Head of School Scott McLarty. Half the Story is “about empowering a young generation to have healthy relationships with social media that ends up supporting mental health and supporting causes and activism we care about.”
With the partnership, the school will integrate the work of Half the Story into the student experience and use Providence Health and Services as a research resource. McLarty hopes it will engage students to design their own curriculum “because it’s always more effective when students are able to drive their own learning and able to help teach each other.”
“Social media is not going anywhere,” McLarty added. “It’s going to be a persistent part of our lives and reality for years to come. It is absolutely critical for schools like Providence to provide opportunities to examine our relationship with social media and technology that enables it and finding healthy coping mechanisms. Social media can have effects over time, and we all need coping mechanisms.”
Developing a healthier relationship with social media is what inspired Half the Story founder Larissa May. Working on a fashion blog called Livin Like Larz while she was a student at Vanderbilt University took a toll on May, who hit a breaking point because of the pressure of producing content amid the rigors of her academic workload and suffered sleep deprivation and anxiety.
“I struggled with social media and how it intersected with my mental health,” she said. “When I hit my darkest days in college, I was depressed and lost everything. I also observed how technology was affecting men and women on my floor and at school.
“I didn’t really know what the effects would be. I had no idea. [Social media apps] were designed like slot machines in Las Vegas. It is going to be the cigarettes or Juul [e-cigarettes] of our generation. We don’t really know the effect it’s going to have.”
The difficult experience was the source of inspiration for May’s senior art project, in which she wanted to share a more human experience on social media.
“I wanted to have a more transparent conversation, so I quit fashion blogging and wanted to be part of the solution,” May said. “I drew the logo and began sharing with my campus, and then all over the world. … Half the Story started as that. It became a nonprofit a year ago with a greater goal to move beyond campaigning.”
As the organization continues to grow, so does its outreach, and it was only a matter of time for May’s work to intersect with McLarty’s.
“We have to take it back 10 years to know how that partnership came to be,” said May. “I actually had Scott as a high school teacher in Chicago. He was my theology teacher, and he was amazing. We had stayed in touch.”
McLarty reached out to his former student during the spring and asked her to speak to parents. It was such a success that he asked her to speak to incoming freshmen.
“I hope to do freshman orientations for years to come,” said May. “In a dream world, this partnership is hopefully the beginning of a bigger partnership with Providence Medical.”
Being able to work with a health-care system will help Half the Story build a solution designed by students that is approved by psychology.
“We’re ultimately going to find a way to work with the students and build a student research study and teach them how to get research so we can better understand the way kids understand,” said May.
May has developed workshops to educate Providence High students as well as parents. Half the Story recently collaborated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and released “A Guide for Parents: Social Media, Screen Time and Emotions During COVID-19.”
“We all have to reset and have this dialogue,” May said. “It’s a window to a greater conversation. What a lot of people don’t realize is screens are the greatest coping mechanisms for people, hiding behind the screen and hiding emotions behind them.”
McLarty said May is committed to helping parents and students to better use a tool that has the power to hurt and heal and looks forward to future workshops and projects with Half the Story.
“Schools are in a particularly powerful and influential position to bring communities together and internal communities with outside organizations that have really relevant and informative expertise,” he said. “ … The reaction has been almost completely positive. There’s a recognition among parents that parenting has shifted during the pandemic, and they want to share ideas with each other and gain ideas from outside sources like Half the Story.”

No Large-Scale School Reopenings Before November

No campus in Los Angeles County will be allowed to reopen to all K-12 students until at least November, although schools can begin to offer small in-person classes for children with special needs at no more than 10% of campus capacity at one time, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Students, parents and educators had been hoping that progress against the coronavirus might allow campuses to reopen on a faster track. The small in-person classes for children who need special services, announced last week, could allow at least 200,000 students back to campus across the county.

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Obituary | Andrea Ruth Heintz

Andrea Ruth Heintz

Mrs. Andrea Ruth Heintz (Luttge), native of Burbank, California, passed away on Monday, September 7, 2020 at the age of 81.
Andrea was born on January 27, 1939 in Burbank California, to Ruth (Kendig) and Andra Luttge. She graduated from John Burroughs High School. She married John Heintz, in 1959.
Andrea, a proud lifelong Burbank resident, is survived by her devoted husband of 61 years, John Heintz; son, Steven (Elizabeth) Heintz of Burbank, California; brother, Wayne Luttge, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and grandchildren Samantha Heintz and Jack Froding.
No memorial services are being held at this time.
Arrangements are under the care of Pierce Brothers Valhalla.

League of Women Voters, Council PTA to Host School Board Candidates

The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank Unit and Burbank Council Parent Teacher Association will host a candidate forum for the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education race.
The forum will be held virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 2:45-3:55 p.m. The event is free and open to all. The forum will be broadcast live on the Burbank Television Channel and the Burbank Channel on YouTube and will be replayed until the election on Nov. 3.
The public is encouraged to submit questions for the candidates. To submit your question(s), visit Burbank Council PTA’s dedicated web page: burbankcouncilpta.org/candidate-forum. Due to time constraints and the number of candidates, not all questions will be asked. Questions should be on the issues and applicable to all candidates. No personal attacks or biased questions will be accepted.
The candidates (in ballot order) are:
• Armond Aghakhanian, incumbent
• Steve Ferguson, incumbent
• Emily Weisberg, middle school teacher
• Roberta Reynolds, incumbent
Burbank Council PTA President Wendi Harvel said, “The Board of Education makes decisions that affect all of our students, and they are our elected representatives. Our community has a voice when it comes to educating our children. Our voice is our vote. Both LWV-G/B and BCPTA believe that offering opportunities for community members to learn more about their candidates both empowers voters and encourages voters to show up at the polls.”
To learn more about the League of Women Voters-Glendale Burbank, visit my.lwv.org/california/los-angeles.
For information about the Burbank Council PTA, visit burbankcouncilpta.org.

It Takes a Village to Make This Imaginative ‘Zoo’

In pre-pandemic Burbank, residents would have to make their way over to Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to visit a zoo. And going to an aquarium would have entailed a trek to Long Beach.
Today, things are different. Now, thanks to Wendy and London Ruff, Burbank has its own community zoo and aquarium, located right smack in the middle of the city’s Rancho neighborhood. Gathering inhabitants from the plains of the Serengeti to the world’s great oceans and tropical reefs the Ruffs have rivaled Noah in bringing together a magnificent menagerie of critters — or rather, fanciful images of them.
Though the goal of the creature collector of Genesis was to fill an ark, the Ruffs’ has been to fill their front yard with art that represents all manner of animal and aquatic life.
“This all started after my daughter London returned home from Washington, D.C.,” said Wendy Ruff. “She had been doing a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, and when they closed she came back to Burbank.”

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Apparent Dumping of Mail Prompts Investigation

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
Security footage showed a man identified as a U.S. Postal Service contractor dumping bags of unopened packages and mail last week in the parking lot for 7Q Spa Laser & Aesthetics, a business on Glenoaks Boulevard.

The U.S. Postal Service continues to investigate two incidents of apparent mail dumping last week, including one instance in which a contractor appears to have discarded a large amount of bagged mail and packages in a parking lot.
Meanwhile, Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jimmy Gomez have formally asked for USPS investigators to conduct a broad inquiry alongside the local probe to identify whether the incidents were isolated occurrences or reflect a larger issue with the institution. The dumping of unopened mail, which was partially captured on surveillance footage, is likely to serve as a lightning rod to ongoing controversies regarding the handling of the USPS ahead of a national election expected to rely heavily on mail-in voting.

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Make a Snack, Turn on Computer for Brand 48 Exhibit Today

Image courtesy Brand Associates
In lieu of the physical art opening, Brand Associates will showcase 108 works of art in a virtual presentation of its annual Works on Paper exhibit starting today.

The coronavirus edition of Brand Associates’ annual fundraising art exhibit at the Brand Library is certainly a conversation starter.
What would have been the traditional art opening this weekend — complete with wines, cheese and veggie trays and light music at the iconic library and gallery — will instead take place on computer screens, via Zoom, with any wine and snacks coming self-sourced from our own pantries and fridges. For those ready to partake, the Brand 48 Annual National Juried Exhibition of Works on Paper begins at 2 p.m. today, Sept. 12.

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