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First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the San Marino Tribune. Enrollment in the San Marino Unified School District has experienced further decline, according to preliminary figures sent to the Tribune by Linda de la Torre, the SMUSD’s acting superintendent.The overall number of students for the 2021-22 school year has dropped to 2,697, more than 400 fewer than attended schools five years ago, when the count was 3,101 — a 13% decrease. San Marino High School’s enrollment has dropped to 866 students, compared with 1,110 during the 2016-17 academic year.

First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the San Marino Tribune. The Chinese School of San Marino hosted an unveiling of the Taiwan Center for Mandarin Learning on Tuesday morning at the school.The ceremony was held to acknowledge the cooperation between the school and the Overseas Community Affairs Council from the Republic of China (Taiwan) in establishing the center to promote traditional Mandarin learning with Taiwanese characteristics. The Chinese School teaches Mandarin and offers other classes that are conducted in that language.

The mural, which measures approximately 8 feet by 8 feet, acknowledges the school’s dedication to academics, arts, activities and athletics. With the campus cleared out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Marino High School Principal Jason Kurtenbach and art teacher Michelle Pauline thought they would take advantage of the extra room brought on by the lack of students. So at the end of 2020, they collaborated on an ambitious project.“Jason said that he wanted a mural painted in his office,” said Pauline, who also heads up the school’s National Art Honor Society, or NAHS. She is also the chair of VAPA — the visual and performing arts.

The San Marino Unified School District Board of Education is expected to discuss its open superintendent spot at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, according to board President Shelley Ryan.Jeff Wilson resigned from the superintendent’s post in April but remained in that position until June 30, when he took over at the Claremont Unified School District. Soon afterward, the board appointed Linda de la Torre as its acting superintendent.

As a new school year was dawning, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced last Friday that it was ramping up restrictions aimed at mitigating a recent spike in COVID-19 infections — rules requiring athletes to be tested for the virus.In a later communication, the county set Sept. 1 as the date when the orders become effective, said David Irie, San Marino High School’s director of athletics and director of student experiences.The county also said it is requiring all spectators, athletes and coaches to wear masks indoors. Volleyball players must wear their masks during competition and can take them off only when eating or drinking.

A total of four students from both of the local elementary schools tested positive on Monday for COVID-19, school officials said in a statement. All parents of elementary school students received a general notice from the school principals informing them of the positive cases on campus. The cases were also reported on the district’s COVID dashboard. Students who were identified as having been in close contact with the individuals testing positive, as defined by the Los Angeles County Department of Health (LACDPH), received a separate notification from the school informing families that their child is required to quarantine for 7-10 days. 

The local Board of Education on Monday heard the first reading of a proposal regarding independent study that was expected to become a board policy later in the week.In accordance with Assembly Bill 130, the San Marino Unified School District must offer an independent study option for students whose health would be put at risk by in-person instruction — “as determined by the parent or guardian,” in the legislation’s wording.Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on July 9, and that in turn required the SMUSD to notify the public of the program before the first day of school, which was scheduled to take place Wednesday. Thus, the school board had to hold the special meeting on Monday night to have the first reading.

Lucas Levy San Marino High School’s Lucas Levy has been able to find several positives even in the blizzard of bad news that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic — an ability that could serve the senior well as he leads SMHS’ Associated Student Body in the new school year.The ASB president for 2021-22 needed to look no further than last spring’s election process for an example.“We campaigned through social media and a video speech,” said the affable Levy, a seemingly permanent smile splashed across his face. “Voting was conducted online. It was a little detached but much less nerve-wracking, because my campaign speech wasn’t in front of a live audience.”