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Photos by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNEMaj. Phil Hanf was the keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony. Following a year off as a result of the pandemic, San Marino residents were genuinely enthused to gather in Lacy Park on Monday morning for the city’s annual acknowledgement of Memorial Day.Well over 100 people assembled just west of the War Memorial in socially distanced fashion, but the extra space and mask requirements didn’t dim the passion as attendees paid their respects to the 53 San Marinans who gave their lives on the world’s battlefields.Among those elected officials accepting invitations to speak were Congresswoman Judy Chu, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Ed Chau. Chu and Chau presented proclamations honoring the city’s consistent efforts to recognize the holiday and Portantino reenacted a presentation he had previously made virtually to Maggie Lee, president of the Chinese Club of San Marino, and San Marino city manager Marcella Marlowe. Portantino recently honored Lee and Marlowe as the two women from San Marino who have played an integral role in supporting their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julie Chan Lin Julie Chan Lin, who was elected to the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education in November and took the oath of office in December, abruptly resigned less than 20 minutes into the panel’s meeting on May 25 — the second sudden departure of a member in two weeks.“I’d like to thank the community for entrusting me to represent you here on this board,” Chan Lin said when it was her turn to speak during the meeting’s section entitled “Communications From the Board of Education.” “With a heavy heart, I am letting you and my fellow board members know that I cannot continue to serve on this board. Tonight, I resign from the SMUSD Board of Education.”When contacted by the Tribune on Wednesday, Chan Lin declined further comment but shared a statement she posted to the San Marino schools’ participation forum.

The abrupt resignation of San Marino school board member Julie Chan Lin on May 25 means the beleaguered panel now must search for not one but two replacements.On Tuesday, May 11, Corey Barberie resigned his position on the board in anticipation of a family move to another state. On May 18, the panel opened a 17-day application period to commence efforts to fill the vacancy created by Barberie’s exit. That period ends Friday, June 4, at noon.  

The San Marino City Council has unanimously approved the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and will seek to contract with a specialist who can facilitate the panel.The group’s establishment was enthusiastically approved at last Friday’s meeting, along with its price tag of up to $45,000. The decision came on the heels of a proclamation for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and a similar decree lauding the Chinese Club of San Marino for its work, council actions that also dealt with the theme of diversity.Vice Mayor Susan Jakubowski had proposed exploring this issue at a prior meeting.“This is a ‘big heavy’ that we are taking on,” Jakubowski said Friday. “As we all know from our life experiences, many times we avoid and fear those we don’t know. We are hesitant to learn more, to ask questions, and I think the end product we’re looking for is a way to bring us all together.”San Marino’s commitment to a DEI reframing comes on the heels of a well-documented rise in hateful rhetoric and violence directed toward Asian and Pacific Islander Americans throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Much of this seems to be related to the virus’ apparent origins in China, and commentators often charged former President Donald Trump with fanning those flames by insisting on using phrases like “China virus” or “kung flu,” which often complemented his seeming political hostility to migrants.As noted in the city’s report preceding the vote on the task force, around 60% of San Marino’s…

Caroline Lichtman Life is finally returning to normal for Caroline Lichtman, San Marino’s star hometown gymnast. After a year of stay-at-home orders, Zoom practices, virtual meets, reduced training hours and general uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lichtman has advanced to compete at the USA Gymnastics women’s national championships that will take place this weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida. It’s quite an accomplishment even under normal circumstances. But during a pandemic, it’s downright astonishing. Not only are gymnasts essentially required to stay in elite physical shape, but the sport requires the mastery of apparatus and equipment where literally every centimeter can provide the margin between success and failure. That’s not exactly an environment that is fostered by gym closures or anything that can be classified as “virtual.” Like any top athlete, he or she must train on a daily basis – and train hard – to stay on top of their game. Caroline started off the 2020 season in fine form, but before she could compete at state and regional competitions and, ultimately, qualify for nationals, the season was upended by the pandemic. It is only through the perseverance that is necessary for – and ultimately fortified by – the daily rigors of the sport that she finds herself at the upper echelon of gymnastics.

Photo courtesy Claudia BolesMany of Grad Night’s volunteers assisted this past Saturday to help work on the set. Front row, from left: Richard Boutin, John Dustin, Cynthia Ary, Alice Song Ulrich, Doris Cheung, Julie Wong Tam and Ping Lit. Second Row: Ann Ettinger, Angela Sze, Grace Navarrete, Bobbie Parwar, Nicolette Fuerst, Kim Sutherland and Bob French. Third Row: Rick Gute, Thomas Yee, Daryl Chan, Leslie Long, Pete Manning, Bernard Lim, Will Rose, Steve Talt and Leslie Ford. Back: Vincent Ary, Paul Callahan and Bob Horgan. There was perhaps no other development that signaled the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic last year on a local level than the cancellation of San Marino High School’s annual Grad Night celebration. The district acknowledged the graduating class of 2020 in a drive-thru ceremony, which was delayed until July 31 and allowed for the graduate to leave their automobile for a few brief seconds in order to receive a ceremonial diploma and pose for a couple photos.Though it was organized with the most pomp and circumstance possible, community members have been pining for a return to their familiar celebration. Their diligence will pay off in two weeks when Grad Night returns in its familiar form…sort of. Modifications to keep the students safe from possible infection will include mandatory mask-wearing and holding all activities outdoors on the upper basketball courts under a “big top” tent, in concert with its “Circus” theme.

SMHS Principal Jason Kurtenbach U.S. News and World Report has ranked San Marino High School to be in the upper level of the nation’s public high schools, grading the school at a stellar 98.1 out of 100 in its annual evaluation.This grade slotted SMHS at No. 339 nationwide out of more than 17,000 high schools. In California, it was listed as the No. 46 out of nearly 1,700 evaluated, and it was the No. 17 high school in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Nationally, it was ranked an impressive No. 90 in STEM high schools.“San Marino High School has not only persevered through the COVID-19 crisis, but in many ways, we have triumphed,” said SMHS principal Jason Kurtenbach. “We maintained high levels of attendance and performance with our students throughout school closure due to our faculty being able to expertly rise to the challenge of teaching and learning in a digital environment and our hybrid learning plan. Moreover, in an effort to support our students we added SAT and ACT tests to our offerings during school closure so that our students would not need to travel in order to take the exams, which are valuable for college applications.”In specific grading breakdowns, U.S. News rated SMHS as No. 433 nationally in its college readiness index, which is based on the number of students who took and passed at least one advanced placement, or AP exam; No. 331 in college curriculum breadth, which is based on how many students took or passed…

Photo courtesy San Marino Recreation DepartmentApproximately 600 participated in last Saturday’s Great San Marino Egg Hunt, which began here at Stoneman School. San Marino has hosted an egg hunt in some iteration for several decades, but the success of one held last Saturday might just change all that for good.Dubbed by the Recreation Department as “The Great San Marino Egg Hunt,” the event drew almost 600 participants. They cruised via automobile through town on the “bunny trail,” using a map to solve riddles and spot clues while searching for “Mr. and Mrs. Bunny” along the way.To sweeten the pot, Recreation Department staffers hid 10 “golden tickets” in eggs that were distributed at eight stops along the way.

Matthew Lee Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from Kristine Franco, a member of San Marino High School’s counseling staff, senior Matthew Lee was named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for February.And for good reason. Lee has a glittering dossier, topped by his recent acknowledgement as a National Merit Finalist, thus remaining in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew is also the engineering president of Titanium Robotics team at SMHS and captain of the school’s math and science teams.For the past year, Lee has also operated a group called TitanHacks, where he manages sponsorships and event planning for a what are called “hackathons,” where programmers team up to create original projects. With the leftover funds, TitanHacks operates a weekly food drive with the First Baptist Church of Alhambra.