Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dana Middle School Receives State-of-the-Art Fitness Center Along With Three Other Middle Schools; Former Los Angeles School Board Member Mike Lansing (above) watches teachers train for future lessons to Dana Students (See full story below)

Saralyn Hannon, head of Dana Middle School physical education department wearing yellow, trains other teachers using the gift from former School Board Member Mike Lansing before he departed after serving eight years. Saying she was "floored" by the gift, the instructor plans to open its doors to students by the end of October.

Mike Lansing's gift left four middle schools with a trainer for teachers and $50,000 plus in physical training equipment found usually in private gyms; Some students have never seen this equipment before

Diana L. Chapman

Instead of leaving behind a swath of candy for Halloween, a former Los Angeles Unified School Board Member left an enormous treat for San Pedro middle school students – an intense “Disneyland” style fitness center which will open its doors in late October.
Dana Middle School’s new fitness center allows students to challenge their own skills with built-in monitoring devices on the newest training equipment and opens around Halloween, said Saralyn Hannon, head of physical education department.
The center’s pieces include 15 state-of- the-art spin bikes, three giant elypticals (like a giant looking trike that has pedals for leg thrusts and push poles for arms,) more than 20 stability balls, dozens of three to ten pound weights, scores of medicine balls, floor mats and hordes of resistance bands.
That doesn’t include the 20 bosus pieces, which are used like stepping stools, but are rounded to help promote balance.
Using a spin bike, physical education instructor Jose Morales, jumped off after ten minutes and said happily “what an awesome workout. My legs are wobbling.
“When the kids enter in here, it’s going to be like Disneyland.”
As former school board member Mike Lansing toured the facility recently and said he decided to use his remaining funds as a board member to ensure that middle school children would learn a variety of ways to exercise and open their minds to all sorts of athletics – besides running and team sports.
Funds for similar facilities were also given to Wilmington, Gompers and Markham, both in South Los Angeles. Each school received $50,000 a piece.
“Everything was being done for the high schools and the elementary schools and health is such an issue,” Mike explained. “It just made sense to invest in this. Health and academics are definitely related. If you have an overweight child or an asthmatic child or both, we are getting a twofer here to help them improve their health.”
Physical trainer Eden Paul was hired to purchase the equipment and aide the physical education teachers at all four schools to set it up. In addition, she will train the teachers in equipment usage before they start.
At Dana, it took several months to just set up the room and remove former equipment, the head of the P.E. department said. The amount of time it took to plan out the room has prevented the teachers from opening up the doors yet to students.
Once the teachers are trained and have figured out the best way to have some 60 plus students use the facility, with one teacher on hand, the students will be released to get their own workouts.
Currently, the facility has been opened up after school for teachers and staff to use, Saralyn explained.
“I am just so grateful,” the P.E. instructor revealed. “We can just do so much. It’s really different for the kids. We got the best equipment and the most for our money. I’m just so floored.”
In the past, she related that physical education was typically bypassed financially for academics and that the school is still trying to install a rock wall that it has money set aside for. Under school district policy, the installation has become so difficult with the that the campus still has yet to receive it.
With this packet, there was little concern about installation. It was more about finding the proper room and training the physical education teachers on the new-state-of the-art-equipment.
For Mike, the key for him will be coming back to see the doors unlocked for the students he left this gigantic treat for at all four of the schools.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Flash, who lived at Fort McArthur, in the years of the Cold War finally will get his gravesite restored. Museuem Curator Steven Nelson holding Flash's photo alongside museum staff, Francisco "Cisco" Lacy and Nikola Pilato.

An Honor for Those Big Hounds in the Sky

By Diana L. Chapman

After living in San Pedro for some twenty years now and having a great understanding of the snail pace of Los Angeles, it was a great pleasure for me to walk around the three foot tall, Palos Verdes stone fence that now squares off a military cemetery for dogs.
It might seem a small endeavor, but as it flourishes, it will show how one determined resident, one determined museum director and the residents of this town can paw their way to the top much quicker if they embark on projects on their own rather than depend on the city.
By the end of January, our community should see the complete $28,000 plus refurbishment of the Fort MacArthur sentry cemetery – a graveyard that honored the animals, mostly guard dogs that served us during the Cold War. Most were put down as they were unable to return to the regular post of being a pet after being dutiful and dangerous guard dogs, canines such as Jack, Cheetah and Pancho.
The cemetery refurbishment is a small, but symbolic step toward cleaning up our problematic troubles with Los Angeles ailing parks, which, pointedly might need more help from the community than it ever has.
Mostly, we should just commend the idea of taking on projects locally so we can beautify our town as a whole – and I believe the cemetery for our military animal vets is a great case in point. Yes, we should honor a dog, such as Flash, a German Shepherd, who acted as a sentry for us for years and had to give up his life, because he was no longer needed.
When resident Dorothy Matich decided to take on an endeavor, she showed how one driven person with a purpose can really change the blemishes and scars in this town.
The Fort McArthur cemetery, in fact, had become just that – a giant embarrassment. Visitors were trashing the site with leftover garbage. Vandals stole more than half of the plaques there to honor the animals. Dog walkers allowed their dogs to dismiss their extras on the graves. And it didn’t seem to matter to anyone that this was one of the first such graveyards in U.S. military history, explained Steve Nelson, the museum curator. The fort, which served as a military site from 1914 to 1982, became a historic museum in 1986.
In an effort to preserve what was left of the cemetery, Steve removed the remaining plaques to and was absolutely delighted when Dorothy came along with the suggestion to do fundraisers to beautify the diminished glory of our hounds (and a few cats) that protected us.
“What an accomplishment,” Steve told me as he chortled over the effort carrying a photo of Flash and watching museum staff clean up extra rocks from the site. “This is a real achievement and it’s because of Dorothy and Flo. It’s just been quite a blessing to have someone adopt the project.”
I must say we need more Dorothy and Flos around. Dorothy received much help from friend, Florence Kleinjan, in raising $22,000 and working toward more. The newly refurbished graveyard will include a wrought-iron fence to protect it from further vandals, pathways of composite granite and a lush, natural landscape of California buckwheat and red flowering currants. If all goes well, the curator said, a bronze statue of a dog – probably one like Flash, a German Shepherd, will be a central focus of the site which will honor some 34 animals. A similar statue was believed to exist at the site, before it too was absconded.

On Nov. 11 – Veterans Day -- Flo and Dorothy plan to put small American flags on the graves that have so long been forgotten.
By then, the museum hopes to have stolen plaques replaced, but most of the work will not be completed until January.
After hosting tickets to teas and plays, Dorothy seemed to breath a sigh of relief to see the beginnings of her efforts come to life.
“I am just elated,” she said. “I really am. I am just really grateful to everyone who helped.”
So am I. So will the community when they see the new gift we’ve all received due to these efforts. And hopefully, so will, the dogs in the big sky who did so much as mans best friend and deserve this much belated honor.