Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Pedro’s Marine Magnet Likely to Become the New Angel’s Gate High School – a Move That Ensures a School No Larger Than 800 Seats and Reduces Traffic Through Busing; LAUSD School Board Expected to Approve Measure Tuesday & School Officials Add a Major Bit of Enticement – the Possibility of Reopening Gaffey Street Pool
By Diana L. Chapman

In a move that might dull sharp and sometimes brutal protests against building a larger campus at Angel’s Gate, Los Angeles school officials have opted to propose an expansion of San Pedro High School’s Marine Magnet at the seaside site instead.
The proposal reduces the site from the initial 1,200 class seats to no more than 800 seats and the expansion in the early stages would not exceed 500 seats.
According to school officials, San Pedro residents would have first rights to use the school.
Such a move will likely decrease some of the hostile and often ugly protest tactics that have ranged from calling the bid “a land grab,” despite the district owning the property for decades, to shoring up a plethora of reasons not to have a school there – including it causing more noise at the tranquil site and the potential damage to fox habitats.
Should the school board approve the reduction from 1,200 seats to 800 at its meeting Tuesday, any changes to school size later would require additional amendments and another run through a chain of procedures.
School officials lined up several enticements for the new proposal – promising a drop in potential traffic woes and the consideration of reopening of a public pool.
The most promising proposal that may send residents gushing toward accepting the marine magnet expansion was the announcement that Los Angeles School Board Member Richard Vladovic and his staff have hammered out a proposed, but tentative agreement to partner with the city to reopen the beloved Gaffey Street Pool -- although funding has not yet been secured.
For years, residents have desired the pool –now considered a historic landmark—to reopen despite the millions it’s expected to cost. City officials have stated in the past that the geology of the hillside has been questionable and the pool has slowly slipped slightly down the hillside and into disrepair.
"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is on board," regarding the partnership, said
said David Kooper, Vladovic’s chief of staff, whose proposal is likely to hook scores of residents. Many have grown increasingly nostalgic over the pool embedded in a hillside at Angel's Gate, surrounded by trees and swirling ocean mists that despite the closure-- clings to many local's memories.
Besides seeking funding for such a project, the school officials need to study the site to see if its even feasible and another partner to actually run the pool, Kooper said.
If the magnet approval passes, then school and city officials would likely build a competitive sized pool at the site that could be used by the public -- and finally give the San Pedro High School swim team its first chance to compete at home.
San Pedro High currently has no pool forcing its swim team often to workout at other locations and to compete in other jurisdictions.
Should the Gaffey Street Pool not work out, school officials would search for another pool site, Kooper said.
Another issue expected to entice residents stems from transportation. A magnet allows for students outside a two mile radius of a school to be shuttled to and from the site via school buses. That would eliminate a large percentage of traffic, once predicted to drench the area with honking cars and traffic jams.
Under the marine magnet expansion, the campus would then become a satellite or “annex” to San Pedro High School and that school’s principal, Bob DiPietro, would oversee both sites, said Linda Del Cueto, the superintendent who heads District Eight, the region that includes San Pedro.l
Many questions remain about the exact substance of classes the school will offer, but clearly the primary goal of school officials remains building four labs and 30 classrooms at the site to help reduce overcrowding at San Pedro High School.
The high school has about 3,400 students on a campus designed for about 2,000. Marine magnet students, which currently comprises about 379 students, still would use the main campus to take the necessary classes for college and to be included in any sports teams. The use of the magnet program also ensures that students outside the two mile radius can be shuttled via buses to the site.
Such a school would not be built until 2012. As for the additional seats, the district might consider at a later date placing a smaller learning community there, such as a maratime studies school. But nothing has been determined yet.
While much remains to hash out, it’s possible the offer will quell some of the intense opposition the district has faced in the past. The plan more than likely will scuttle attempts to pull those residents sitting on the fence into the opposition. Many, who see the school as a viable possibility, have said they are afraid to speak out due to the intense criticism the district has received over its initial proposal to build a stand-alone 9-12th grade campus not connected to the high school.
Even frequent critics of building at the site saw potential with what came out of Tuesday’s meeting, pulled together by Del Cueto.
June Burlingame Smith, president of the Coastal Neighborhood Council, which voted to oppose the building of a larger campus at the site, believed the offer was a “win-win” with the pool. She did warn, however, that school officials should cap the school at 500 seats and be realistic about parking. Offering only 2.5 spaces per classroom just isn’t enough, she argued.
However, the coastal president did seem eager to look at compromises, because in her history of living here it was always known that the district wanted to build a high school at the site.
Doug Epperhart, also on the council, and Aaron Bruhnke, a San Pedro High school teacher and UTLA representative, both raised the concern that such a school could become an “elitist” campus.
“That’s what it will be,” said Epperhart, who also wants to reach some type of compromise with the district, but could not make the meeting.
Surrounding neighbors of the middle to upper class enclave will do everything necessary to make sure their children attend that school, he said, and that likely will lock out students from the economically-disadvantaged areas of the community.
Bruhnke also seemed concerned with the same issue and recommended that students allowed to enjoy the marine magnet sign a contract so if they are not taking the opportunity seriously that other students be allowed to step into the slot.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Left: Adell Hodge, 17, El Camino College,

Right: Morgan Cooper, 18, UC Santa Cruz

Dominic Braggs, Sacramento State University (left) Ruby Noriega, UC Santa Cruz (above)

From Left to Right: Chris Ahamira, 17, El Camino College, Richard "Oja" Coleman, 17, Texas City College, Dante Kelly, 17, El Camino College, Don Martinez, 17, El Camino College, Jasmine Rettig, 17, Long Beach City College, C' Grace Scipio, 18, (front) Cerritos College and Dominc Braggs (back)

College Bound Gives Youths First Shot at Success as a pathway out of Crime and Poverty One SAT, One college application at a Time

Anabel Jiminez, 18, UC San Diego(above)

Danielle Thompson, 18, Long Beach Community (right) Isaiah Alexander, below, Sacramento State University

Kids who never thought they would move onward and upward likely will break the cycle of living in poverty and crime
“…Nobody I know was killed in Central LAToday Was a Good Day” -- Ice Cube
Somewhere over the Rainbow Bluebirds Fly”
“Remember these numbers: 4 8 27 43 140,” – Mike Lansing, executive director of the Los Angeles Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club. “Break the cycle.”
By Diana L. Chapman
Living lonely in foster care, Dominic Braggs was adopted by a second grade friend who taught him basketball; the two were inseparable. While happily playing their game, just one week shy of their eighth grade graduation, gang members rolled up, pulled out a gun and shot his best friend in the head. That was the first of Dominic’s innocent friends to be murdered.
His future: San Jose State University.
Most of the time, Anabel Jiminez was the only true parent in her household. She cleaned the house, fed, clothed and cared for her brother sister and lived in a constant cyclone of her parent’s battles, so severe that police and social workers descended frequently on their home. Anabel and her siblings were repeatedly put in foster care, then sent home again, removed and sent back -- again and again and again.
Her future: UC San Diego. She plans to be a judge.
Living in poverty, Danielle Thompson pulsed with so much anger inside that she clearly enjoyed making other people uncomfortable. She poured some of her anger in reams and reams of poetry, so much so that she could compile several books. She had no idea where she was going with her life; she knew one thing; College was not part of it.
Her future now: Long Beach City Community College.
Thursday evening, Dominic, Anabel and Danielle – and 137 other members of the College Bound Boys and Girl’s Club program beat the odds – happily dancing their way across their stage to graduate to make one of their greatest leaps in life – they will all attend college this fall.
Kids who coped with living side by side with gang members, watched their friends get murdered, saw drug deals go down, witnessed police breaking down doors and doing drug busts – kids who have stories sometimes so awful, it’s a whole lot easier not to hear them.
They were given the chance to dream big and realize they didn’t have to live this way. After all, they could go to college, Mike Lansing, the executive director, told them. At one time, a bit more than five years ago, this was deemed next-to-impossible. But this week – with months of extensive training in the College Bound program – these kids made it over the wall of impossibilities and leaped into the world of miracles and faith.
Mike lit a lot of lights that will ripple and beam out across the country, Los Angeles Unified School Superintendent David L. Brewer the III told the crowd.
“When you look at these numbers,” the superintendent said, “you realize something is going on here…What young people want is adults that care about them. It’s very interesting because when you show them you care about them and you inspire them, young people will succeed. This is a universal truth.”
Mike, he said, had shown the kids he cared and gave them the light they needed to shine. The growing numbers of graduates from the program reflect that. When College Bound began five years ago, the first year four members went off to college. The second year, the number doubled to eight. The third year, the number more than tripled to 27. Last year, 43 members departed for a higher education. This year, 140 students are on their way. In my opinion – short of becoming the president of the United States – Mike will never be able to surpass what he’s done for these kids in his lifetime.
Despite their often chilling stories, these youth have done much more than beat the odds.I know, because I had the honor and the privilege to volunteer as a writing coach to help with their personal essays – required for many college applications.
When I started, it seemed like a purse had been opened upside down and the contents of misery had spilled out and were strewn all over the place. Sometimes, it seemed the writing opened the valve and the water was gushing everywhere – and was never going to stop.
I had some fears that the Boys and Girls Club officials would back off when they heard these painful stories. When you have hundreds of kids pouring into your club everyday, day after day, learning about their personal lives isn’t easy. What I really wondered was would they really want to hear them?
Writing gave the staff the key, but it was like opening a Pandora’s Box. I called Mike time after time. Did they know about this kid? Did they know about that kid? I was especially concerned about one kid named Emmanuel, who was a beautiful writer, but told me in front of 16 kids that he was "worthless." The writing gave us glimpses into their souls. Instead, the staff embraced the stories and ran around trying to fill the gaps and save kids who almost lost their shot at education – because a parent was standing in the way.
In the case of Gruiicel Evelynn Santiago, her mother tossed out several letters of acceptance and when Evelynn settled on Sonoma State University, her mom tossed the letter that told her when to arrive. When the college bound director, Yesenia Aguila, inquired with the college and discovered that Evelynn had to arrive the next day, the staff piled in the car and drove her there.
When Emmanuel Catlan discovered he was not worthless and that the other kids and staff cared about him," he turned his grades over night from a 1.8 to a 4.1. At last, it seemed Emmanuel, who had moved all his life, had found his home at the Boys and Girl Club and was on his way to college. Staff members stepped up to get him on target.
But just one month short of his junior year ending at San Pedro High, Emmanuel’s step dad announced that whole family would move yet again, to Florida. Fearing that “we would lose him,” Mike offered to open a room at his home so Emmanuel could finish his junior year off – and continue pursuing his college aspirations. The step dad refused the offer – knowing the marriage would probably break up when they arrived there.
The last email I received from Emmanuel was that his dad had moved away, his grades had plummeted and he was working hard to help his mother raise his two younger brothers. College was forever on hold, he said. But more recent news sounded much more promising. Emmanuel has been accepted to four colleges in California, including Cal State Long Beach, Cal State LA, Sonoma and San Jose state universities. Getting him here and how to fund his education is what the staff currently is working on.
At the end of the starry evening, screens flashed up of all the happy graduates – the last being Emmanuel. This made me believe that Mike and his staff will somehow figure out a way to get this kid’s light to shine so he too can join the ripple effect of rays that will soon be lighting across the nation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dear Readers:
When I met Bill Schopp, it seemed he was yet another unwritten, unsung hero in our community. In this case, he wants to help kids -- rich, poor or otherwise -- to learn to sail and has garnered scholarships for this very purpose. As our kids live and breath around the port of Los Angeles, it seems fitting that we should help our children take advantage of tremendous opportunities such as the one Bill provides. Here's his story -- Diana


By Bill Schopp, president of Cabrillo Beach Youth Sailing Club Foundation

When I was growing up, I was looking for “my sport.” I assumed that everyone has a natural ability towards a particular sport. By the time I was 14, I had sadly crossed most sports off my list as it was clear they weren’t for me. Then, I discovered racing sailboats.

There was a bunch of kids crewing on 40-foot sailboats racing against each other on weekends and sailing around on smaller boats when the big boats were not racing. There were a couple dads who would give us coaching tips at Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club. Most of the kids were family members but since my dad fished -- and didn’t sail -- he was not a member.

Yacht club members there encouraged me to join as a junior member and made me feel like part of the family. Now as an adult, I still race sailboats and will the rest of my life. I had found “my sport,” and realized other kids needed this chance as well.

One day a few years ago, a few of us got together and decided to try to make sailing an opportunity available to more kids throughout the Harbor area – especially kids who weren’t going to make it in the usual suspects of sports – football, basketball and baseball. So we started the Cabrillo Beach Youth Sailing Club as a 501c3 non-profit foundation to support youth sailing. We then teamed up with the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club.

CBYC already had a summer sailing program so it gave us the perfect opportunity to make sailing available to any kid. CBYC and its membership were completely supportive of the idea. While I was welcomed as a kid at the yacht club, officials there today are still happy to welcome kids who want to sail – kids from all walks of life. The club has allowed us to have many types of fundraisers and the membership is very supportive financially.

In these past few years, the program has grown into a year-round effort encompassing high school sailing in the spring and fall with San Pedro, Palos Verdes, Mary Star, home school kids, and the Port of Los Angeles High School, a charter school. There is also a middle school program for kids in the spring and fall for area kids. During the summer, there are four two-week sailing camps for kids ages 8 to 18.

The foundation’s role is to ensure there is available boats and full or partial scholarships for families with financial needs. It truly has allowed other kids the same opportunities to see if this could be “their sport,” – just as I had discovered when hanging about the docks as a child.

Sailboat racing requires both mental and physical agility. Not only do you have to outwit your opponents, you have to control your boat well enough to be in a position to pass them. There are many sizes and types of boats to match kid’s ages, size and abilities. Competitively, there are races at all levels. Racing is conducted locally, nationally, internationally, and in the Olympics. Some of ours kids have represented the United States in races held in Europe.

If you’re looking for a sport for your kids or want something for them to get involved in this summer, I highly recommend sailing. Youths of all ages can come in with their parents and request full or partial scholarships, depending on their circumstances.

You just never know what might capture a kid’s imagination and spark their passions; it could be just looking up at a billowing sail filled with a gusty wind that will make them soar.
To learn more about the club’s scholarships, drop by the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club at 211 west 22nd street, San Pedro or call (310) 519-1694.

San Pedro High students, Amy Andrews and Chelsea Bonitz (above) andJasmine Rodriguez, Anthony Hernandez, and Arabella Salceda prepping for gourmet lunch in a professional kitchen at the Los Angeles Yacht Club


By San Pedro High School Culinary Teacher Sandy Wood

Six of my culinary students and I had a great day cooking at the Los Angeles Yacht Club – thanks to Chef Joel Orner (right photo).

Chef Orner and two of his young chefs were kind to open up the kitchen doors to six of my top students, all of whom after high school want to attend culinary school: Amy Andrews, Chelsea Bonitz, Jasmine Rodriguez, Arabella Salceda, Jennifer Sweet, and Anthony Hernandez. All of my students were thrilled to have the experience of working in a professional kitchen;

After a short introduction, the students got right into the business of the day -- making lunch for themselves and their teacher! While future pastry chefs Amy and Chelsea worked on whipping up the dessert for the da, the others got right to work making Carrot Ginger Soup, Potatoes au Gratin, Steamed Asparagus, and Beef Tenderloin.

Chef Orner gave the students cooking tips as well as some honest truth about working in the Food Service industry. He told the students that being a chef is a lot of long hours, weekend and holiday work, and many dirty pots and pans to clean. However, he loves his job and wouldn't want to do anything else.
He advised the students to do whatever they have the
passion for and they will be happy and successful. The students got
to ask questions of all three chefs and get an idea about culinary
school and work in the industry.

After the wonderful lunch, each student got to "torch" their own
dessert - a tremendous Chocolate Chip Creme Brulee. Then it was time
to clean the kitchen and do the dishes before going back to SPHS.

Chef Orner and his staff were generous and gracious. Every student
agreed that this was a fantastic experience.

What I liked best: my students got to cook for me!

WRAP UP ABOUT TOWN: On Father’s Day, Help a Father Help His Son With a Wine Tasting Fundraiser at Off the Vine; Join the Fun LAPD Foot Patrol to Earn Money for Kid’s Programs; and Land Your Child on Stage With a Summer Acting Club

The Family; Give a Gift to This Father on Father's Day by Bringing Dad to Off the Vine for a Fundraiser Wine Tasting (Christian Stehlik, above)

A father, who has virtually raised two children on his own and one who faces dire medical circumstances for his son, needs your help this Father’s Day.
Having his 15-year-old son coping with neuroblastoma, a cancer that started in his adrenal gland and spread thorughout his body, Pete Stehlik has found himself layered with bills and having to take off work to tend to his son, Christian.
Christian was diagnosed with the ailment about a year ago and has gone through several bouts of chemotherapy, radiation and other intensive treatments which included extensive stays at the hospital.
Due to the financial overload, friends of the family will host a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday on Father’s Day. The tasting is open to any donor. To taste five wines and help this struggling family, a $20 donation is requested. All proceeds will go directly to the family.
Some snacks will be provided. Please attend to help this father in this life-threatening struggle.
Off the Vine is located at 600 S. Pacific Avenue, Suite 103. Off the Vine has offered the location as a venue for the fundraiser. Owners Michael Koth and Alison Shaw can be reached at 310-831-1551 or visit their website: http://www.offthevine.com/.

The Stage; Have Your Child Join Drama Camp and Perform in Disney’s High School Musical

The Relevant Stage Theatre Company partnered with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs launches an intensive summer workshop for children to learn acting, singing and dancing for youths from 6th through 12th grades – a program that will run all day long for about four weeks.

TRS Youthorizons begins June 30, and will be held from 9 a. m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and conclude on July 27. The students will then showcase what they learned with roles in Disney's High School Musical for two performances at the Warner Grand Theatre.Classes will be held at both the theatre and the Croatian Cultural Center. Costs are $350 for over 140 hours of instruction; ten scholarships will be provided based on financial needs.

To enroll, visit http://www.therelevantstage.com/ or call (310)929-8129. To register in person, William's Book Store, 443 W. 6th Street, will provide an application and take deposits. Registration deadline is June 24.
2008/6/10 Diana Chapman <hartchap@cox.net>:

The Police; A Fun 5K Foot Race to Build LAPD Harbor Area Youth Programs

Get the kids up and ready for a fun Harbor 5K Foot Pursuit at Point Fermin Park on June 22.
Walk or run or do a combination of both and have the children face a challenge doing a 500 yard run. Then dash to the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast that will be held at the event for $10.

All funds will go toward Harbor Area LAPD youth programs or other related activities. Same day registration begins at Point Fermin Park at 7 a.m. with pre-stretching from 7:30 to 7:45 a.m. The kid’s 500 yard dash begins at 7:45 a.m. By 8 a.m., the fun walk/run will begin.

Same day-registration costs $20 for the kid’s and $30 for 5k.

For further information or pre-registraction, contact (310) 522-2042.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What Are We Raising for Our Future? A Breed of Inhumane Kids? Three San Pedro Stories Show It's Time for All to Step-Up or Possibly Face the Trouble on Our Own Home Front

By Diana L. Chapman

My friend was telling me this story: His wife was cycling home from her restaurant job a couple of weeks ago in Long Beach, carrying a load of tips when suddenly she scraped her feet against the pedals, fell off course, took a plunge and injured her ankle.

Lying on the ground, her belongings scattered anywhere and everywhere, she saw a young man run toward her; she gratefully looked up at him, relieved he was coming to her aid. Instead, he turned into a vulture.

He stooped over, grabbed up her belongings and fled – all $150 of hard-earned tip money gone, vanished, in less than a few seconds.

Thankfully, others arrived to help, but that one disconcerting moment – one surely she’ll never forget – makes me wonder – so is that a peek into the future? If we don’t get a grip on the piles of kids whose parents are not passing on love, honor, courage, honesty and for God sakes – ethics – then who is going to teach them?

Those numbers are stacking up high all around our community prompting that bleak, murder-romping, gas-guzzling-movie, Road Warrior, to actually look like it may become a true reflection of our future reality. Even recently, when we got our own warning signs from the ominous tire-slasher or slashers, knifing out more than 100 tires in one evening across pockets of San Pedro neighborhoods, it makes you stop and think. Who did this – an angry bunch of kids or young men and women? And if so, who are they mad at? The parent who doesn’t pay attention? The fact that they have no parents? The hostilities they face at school?

Working with kids – when you learn their true stories – often you wonder how they are together at all. Perhaps you want to blame this on immigration or poverty. But what I feel it really stems from – is the family structure no longer meeting children’s needs – and the community at large refusing to step up to the plate when so many children’s homes are shattered – or if they have any home at all.

At one point in my life and for a brief period, we lived in one of the wealthiest towns in the U.S. Actors Paul Newman, Betty Davis and Robert Redford lived there. And this is where I met some of the angriest kids – most vindictive youth – you could ever imagine. They were often so enraged – like hornets – that they would spend wild toad ride afternoons tearing up hundreds of mailboxes and playing chicken.

This often stemmed from the parents, who were never home because they had much better things to do then be with their children, or in the case of my one friend, the oldest of seven, parents who never could show a single drop of emotion – so much so that they would leaving him screaming in his crib night after night.

He hated them; and yet, they were absolutely oblivious to this fact.

When I hear stories like that, I figure how far are we from dangling on the precipice -- about to drop off in a great abyss of wrath. The perpetrators aren’t always who you expect; the crimes entirely senseless and despite the fact these are small crimes, they are like a knifing to the psyche to those who suffer them.

Besides the wild-tire slashings, here are three more San Pedro stories:

--My friends live in typically safe haven of South Shores. They came home the other night – apparently in the middle of a burglary. The suspect fled. My friend discovered all her jewelry was missing – none of which she cared much about – except one irreplaceable item – a necklace her now deceased mother had given her.
According to the couple, the suspect, who eased out readily when they arrived, appeared to know the layout of their house. Because all the dwellings are tract homes, they believe it could have been anyone who works or lives in the neighborhood.

--Our handyman, who for years has gathered up clothes, books and whatever he can for orphans in Mexico and makes many runs down there each year, came home with his family after church three Sunday’s ago -- only to discover his entire house had been stripped of all their belongings.
That included hundreds of dollars worth of notebooks, pens, and pencils he’d collected for the orphans. What makes me sad for this family is how hard they work to send two of their children to college – with a third soon to be on his way -- and the inordinate amount of time the father takes to help others -- such as hiring a nearly deaf employee he learned to communicate with through high-pitched whistles. For the whole family, the event has been unsettling. They are now rebuilding to replace their losses – from scratch.

--About a month ago, a woman complained about a rash of tagging at a Central Neighborhood Council meeting; but the suspects weren’t who you’d expect. They were white men, in their early 20s who tagged -- while their children sat in their SUV BMW’s, watching, the woman said. That came as a surprise to some of us. Even when the kids are educated, we are still discover them destroying public property. For example, a 24-year-old convention planner from Las Vegas plastered his moniker, Buket, all over Los Angeles and on the Hollywood Freeway. This educated man caused $150,000 worth of damages; He was recently arrested.

What can anyone of us – do about all of this? My recommendation: become a mentor, volunteer at a school, become a coach, help out at a non-profit organization, put together a reading program for kids at your neighborhood school, help tutor math, teach students about your profession, do whatever you can to leave a good imprint on a kid – even if that’s doing a pick-up basketball game with the boys and gals next door.

Anything you do for the betterment of a child – no matter how small such as listening to what they have to say – can spread a long ways toward building blocks to help our community. So that maybe, the kid you helped – instead of stealing money from an injured woman – will help her up instead.