Tuesday, October 21, 2008

COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT: A Three Day Celebration to Honor Murdered Children; San Pedro High Student Writes Letter Asking for The Air Force to Stop Destroying a Hillside behind Cabrillo Aquarium; LAUSD Nominates Harbor Teacher's Prep Academy in Wilmington for the 2008 National Blue Ribbon Award

Three Day Weekend Celebration to Honor the Lives of Murdered Children; Please Attend and Support the End of Killing the Innocents -- and even the Not-so-Innocents

Their mother's will be there.

Their photos will be there.

Even their shoes will be there.

But they will not.

In another attempt to stop the violence, Justice for Murdered Children will launch a three day weekend celebration in San Pedro to honor victims of homicides starting this Friday (Oct. 24) with a candlelight vigil walk starting near the Vincent Thomas Bridge that will end with a ceremony at Ports O' Call Village.

This is an opportunity for the entire community to support those who have lost their children to homicides and another effort to increase awareness that killings are ongoing.

"This killing must stop," said LaWanda Hawkins, who founded Justice for Murdered Children in San Pedro after her 19-year-old son, Reginald Reese, was shot down on a Sunday, Dec. 6 in 1995. He was killed from multiple gun shots. Los Angeles police have never found the killer(s).

The three day celebration, which will include Friday night's walk, will begin at 5 p.m. starting under the Vincent Thomas Bridge near the Los Angeles Port's new fountain, corners of Harbor Boulevard and Swinson Street. A ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. with the reading of the victim's names, guest speakers and music.

Saturday will host a large concert at Port's O' Call -- complete with a carnival, Hip Hop, Gospel and Rock music, from noon to 9 p.m. The entry fee will be $10 and balloon's will be released honoring the victims. Anyone who has lost a loved one to violence is encouraged to bring photographs.

On Sunday, also at Ports O'Call, the Warren Chapel Church will give a sermon, starting at 11, and and a car and motorcycle show will begin at noon, accompanied with more music. At 2 p.m., a free food-giveaway will be launched.

Ironically, while LaWanda Hawkins said she was part of some of the planning, she was surprised when the official planners for the organization -- who didn't know where her son was killed. The location, which she called coincidental, seemed symbolic since her son was killed in a vacant lot across the street.

"This whole program is to make people aware of these homicides and to ask them not to stereotype," she said. "I just want to remind them that this can happen to anyone. We have to cherish our kids everyday. We have to learn that they are gifts."
SP High Student Writes Letter Contending that the Air Force is Destroying Hillside Behind San Pedro's Gem, the Cabrillo Aquarium

By Christian Sthelik, San Pedro High School student

Fort MacArthur Air Force housing has been destroying the cliffs near Cabrillo Beach for the past year or two in order to "stabilize" the cliffs.

They are now planning on "stabilizing" the cliff behind Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the same cliff that is a part of the Cabrillo Native Plant Garden.

There have been supposed sightings of the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly in the garden, the same butterfly that was believed to be extinct. also, there are several feral cats which call the garden their home.

The Air Force is moving fast. If we the people are to stop this immoral crime against nature and the citizens of the United States, then we must move even faster. We, the people, must exercise our right to question an establishment which we believe is doing wrong.


Submitted by the LAUSD Communications Staff

Los Angeles – Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced today that Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in Wilmington is a nominee for the prestigious 2008 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy is one of only 35 public schools in the state nominated for this award. Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy is also a 2007 California Distinguished School winner.

The NCLB Blue Ribbon is a recognition program of the U.S Department of Education and honors schools that are academically superior, demonstrate gains in student test scores and show advances in closing achievement gaps.

“Harbor Teacher Preparation academy has a record of excellence and this honor is an example of a collective effort that not only benefits our students, but brings a sense of pride to our teachers and greater community,” said Board member Dr. Richard Vladovic, who represents schools in Local District 8.

“This is great news and I applaud the hard work of all the teachers and administrators at Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy,” said Superintendent of Schools David L. Brewer III. “The nomination means that our students are receiving the quality education they deserve.”

Nominated schools will now submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education in February 2008. Each school will need to meet 2008 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Academic Performance Index (API) schoolwide and subgroup growth targets next fall. Those that meet these final targets will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2008.#

Labels: Harbor Teacher Prep
One of the Biggest Reasons I Sent My Son to Port of Los Angeles High Charter School Over San Pedro High; The Overcrowded Conditions Will Cost the Larger High School – Especially When No Relief Is in Sight for the Building of Another Campus

By Diana L. Chapman

“How do they do it?” I quizzed my friend, a long-time teacher at San Pedro High School who the students adore. “How do they keep calm and not get into riots on a 90 degree day?”

I was, of course, referring to the students attending the miserably, overcrowded conditions at San Pedro High where I found myself becoming unnerved when visiting the school for meetings last year. As time went on, I was becoming more and more alarmed about sending my son, who should have started there this year as a 14-year-old freshman.

Instead, he’s at the Port of Los Angeles High Charter school. There are many reasons that factored into it, but the major one that came up again and again is simply the overcrowded conditions which made me feel like I was in a prison – and the threatening storm that the campus will turn year-round as the school becomes perplexingly even more overcrowded.

Year round has proved disastrous for families and the study behaviors of students – so much so that Los Angeles Unified – has worked on dismantling all of its year round schools. I shudder when I think of San Pedro High going year round – a threat many residents are taking lightly – but perhaps should not.

Here’s a snapshot for those who haven’t been there lately during school hours: I’m coming onto the campus for, ironically, a safe and civil meeting, and the bell rings. Students storm out the doors, racing as fast as they can to get to their next class. They are pushing and shoving in hallways that are thick with so many bodies, there’s no room to breath – and as an adult, I found myself getting picked up in a tidal wave of kids desperate to get to their next class.

Having gone through this bitterly uncomfortable rigmarole many times, I couldn’t understand why the students weren’t having fist fights in the hallway.

“They just go with it,” my teaching friend said. “They know how it is ,so they keep a cap on it.”

But here’s my question of the day: Why should they have too????????????? In a school where there’s 3,500 students made for a campus of about 2,000 – and in a community that keeps rejecting the building of a new high school or even a small satellite – my fears for my son increased. While his personality fits San Pedro, his safety appears to me much better at the charter school, since it’s much smaller, the staff is close and the Port police station is being built right next door.

We already know that we have many racial hostilities going on in this town. We already know that student LaTerian Tasby, who became a popular football and basketball player at San Pedro High and turned his life around, was shot to death by gang members at a high school party last year around this time. Many kids in the know will tell you it was because he was an African-American – and an easy target due to his height, six feet, six inches.

Call me a nervous Mama, an overly dramatic mom, or whatever you want. But I just think showing students that they are worth so little, meaning we won’t allow a new high school or even a satellite campus to relieve the stress, tells the kids exactly what we think of them.

Then they, in turn, sure show they feel: I’d walk in the hallways at San Pedro and find trays of discarded food just strewn along the floor – because I guess the students couldn’t bother to find a trash can. Why should they? If we have no respect, why should they?

Kids can read us far better than we think – more than we would ever admit. They take the cues from the adults that surround them – and most of all, they are not stupid. They get it – and they get it well. They know who cares; They know who doesn’t.

Don’t ever underestimate a kid – because they will return what we hand out with glee. For example, my son recently was lucky to be called to a press conference held by our smiling-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose teeth I’ve come to know more than anything else by his repeated photo ops.

The mayor’s office needed kids to wear T-shirts and show that they wanted clean air in our overly polluted Harbor Area when there was a launching of clean truck initiative in town.

But when my son arrived with a group of other students, there weren’t enough T-shirts to go around – and so the kids who couldn’t wear the shirts weren’t allowed in the photographs.

My son seethed.

Then, the mayor’s staff was rude to one of the school officials and the mayor said, according to my son, “Oh, I was supposed to say something about their school. Oh, well,” and turned around and walked away.

Ryan came home that night with the fastest political education he could have ever received. In that short period of time, he summed it up like this: the whole thing was staged, the mayor didn’t care an ounce about the kids and wasn’t even friendly – and he will never vote for Villaraigosa if he runs for governor. Four years from now, Ryan will be able to vote.

I’m not going to say yet that my son is happy at the Port of Los Angeles. He’s only been there for less than three months and admittedly, he feels somewhat disenfranchised as all his friends are at San Pedro High – and the school’s rules are markedly different from other schools. But just like college, where kids call home crying in the first several months after leaving, they tend to wind up happier than they’ve ever been.

I’ve come to greatly admire the current assistant principal, Gaetoni Scotti, and just wish he was principal everyday. The last principal left and Mr. Scotti is acting in the interim.

He’s been responsive to many of my requests, such as when my Mom’s twin brother died, he was able to help me arrange quickly with the teachers that Ryan might be gone for awhile. I also loved it at Back to School night, because the teacher’s were fun and zany, which often helps keeps students attention when they learn.

I’m not going to say yet that it’s a better school than San Pedro High. I also can’t even say I’m 100 percent sure that it will be safer, because we all know of the tiny Amish school that was attacked by a ruthless man, who killed all the girls he held hostage. No one could ever have predicted that.

And I am going to say I have wonderful friends on the SP High Lady Boosters – who surprised me when they took the “fix San Pedro first,” stance, as many in town have before building any other schools.

I respect their opinion as I know how hard they do work for the kids. But all those things just didn’t make me feel comfortable with the same issue that keeps coming back to haunt me. It’s this: an overcrowded school, a few hot days, a few agitated students and the whole place could blow.

This is what happened at Locke High School last year, and my friend who was working there as an assistant principal, said it was one of the most shocking and distressing things he’d ever witnessed in his life. The worst part: he felt helpless to stop it.

As a reporter, I can recall many stories where the schools were under lockdown, including Banning High, when skirmishes broke out on campuses. That meant, the kids couldn’t get out and the parents couldn’t get in.

I watched on TV and saw the photos of parents screaming and trying to climb fences to reach their kid. And I saw kids trying to climb over to reach their parents. Somehow, I don’t mean to be so negative, but I can see this happening at San Pedro until we relieve the overcrowding.

And I’ll admit right here and now – I’d be one of those parents climbing the fence.

Making SP High better is a good concept – and no matter what – still needs to happen, because there are good teachers there. There is an excellent staff. The real question though is: how long will it take and how much longer will the kids have to endure the current sardine-can setting they are in?

I didn’t want to wait long enough to find out the hard way. That’s the simplest explanation I can give you as to why my son is now enrolled in a charter school.