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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.  

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…

Though their institutions are located approximately two miles apart, San Marino High School Principal Jason Kurtenbach and Daryl Topalian, his counterpart at Huntington Middle School, had an identical message last Thursday morning.“It is great to see the kids again,” said Kurtenbach, as students completed the requisite temperature screening and filed into SMHS.

More than a year after they abruptly closed due to concerns about COVID-19, San Marino’s public schools can once again be considered “open for business,” effective Thursday, April 1.“I am very excited for our students,” said school board president Shelley Ryan, herself an educator. “Whether you are in kindergarten, second grade or high school, this is very good news. This has been an exhausting year.”Students in grades TK — transitional kindergarten — through 5th grade already began in-person learning at Valentine and Carver elementary schools in late February and early March, but Thursday will mark a significant return to the district’s campuses.

Photos courtesy Scott DavesSan Marino’s Cole Giles (72) motors downfield after recovering a fumble against Burbank Burroughs. The Titans have decided to cancel next Friday’s game against Monrovia and will play South Pasadena on April 2. “We have been waiting six months for football to return,” said one fan as he filed out of Titan Stadium on Friday night, “and tonight this town was able to take a nice, long, cool drink.”The final score that was still emblazoned on the scoreboard was of little consequence to most who assembled at San Marino High School on a cool spring evening. It only mattered that they were there.For the record, Burbank’s John Burroughs High School filled in for Temple City and defeated the Titans, 30-14, but the atmosphere that is unique to Friday Night Lights traveled well.

As dedicated volunteers, working intimately at each of our San Marino School sites, we are devastated at the failure of Measure E. Despite PTA and community efforts to support the Measure E campaign, it failed to pass by 120 votes. On March 9, the School Board voted to eliminate 41.2 positions throughout San Marino Schools. We are heartbroken for our students, teachers and staff.

Like most young people her age, Camdyn Wu — a junior at San Marino High School — was optimistic at announcements that a COVID-19 vaccine was imminently available and the end of the coronavirus pandemic was approaching. While there was much to celebrate, the good news also arrived with a whole new set of challenges.

Evangelina Wong recently became the youngest of the first group of female Eagle Scouts in the BSA GLACC Rose Bowl District. Wong, 14, is a freshman at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra and was inaugurated on Feb. 8. Her aspirations include becoming a medical professional after attending UCLA and medical school. She has been scouting for seven years and is a proud founding member of Scouts BSA Troop 360 in San Marino and an inspiring leader since Feb. 1, 2019. Wong completed all of her requirements in 22 months. During the coronavirus pandemic, she completed her Eagle Project by serving Troop 360’s chartered organization, St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church. She led her parents in restoring four damaged walls at the youth center and built an oak wood frame for her educational art piece to be displayed on one of the refurbished walls. Wong is also working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award.