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.
During his keynote address for the City Club’s March meeting, San Marino resident Dr. Steve Park provided an overview of his life which includes service as a United States Navy medical officer and career as a hospitalist. In retrospect, an argument could be made that the subject of memory retention would have also sufficed, as Park’s is apparently as sound as the proverbial steel trap. So is former San Marino educator Loren Kleinrock’s, Park’s former assistant principal during his days at San Marino High School and offensive coordinator for the Titan football team, for which Park was a record-setting wide receiver. In vivid detail, Park recalled Kleinrock busting him for going to a buddy’s house for lunch even though he was not yet a privileged senior. Kleinrock, meanwhile, recalled one time Park didn’t perfectly execute one of his pass patterns. That these transgressions took place almost 30 years ago was incidental and only seemed to heighten the mutual respect that exists between them to this day.
It may have taken place seven months after its intended date, but San Marino and Arcadia High schools faced off last week in their traditional season-opening girls’ tennis match. The Apaches defeated the Lady Titans by a final score of 13-5 in the non-league matchup between two teams who are regularly among the best in the entire state. San Marino’s doubles combinations of Selina Wu & Valerie Kuo, Elaine Wu & Anna Moller and Isabelle Kang & Katie Lui were able to score against Arcadia, with Selina Wu & Kuo and Elaine Wu & Moller winning two of their three matches. Kang & Lui were victorious in one match while taking a second to tiebreaker, accounting for the Lady Titans’ points. Selene Yung, Camdyn Wu and Mandy Rivera battled hard in singles play, but the Apaches prevailed. San Marino has an extended break in the schedule and doesn’t take to the court again until Tuesday, April 13, when the squad travels to La Cañada. The Lady Titans’ final remaining home match takes place on Tuesday, April 27, when South Pasadena visits at 3:30 p.m.
Isabelle Kang blasts a return during San Marino tennis action against Arcadia. Though the Lady Titans fell short, Kang and doubles partner Katie Lui played well.
Los Angeles County never advanced to a tier that would allow for indoor assembly during the abbreviated and recently completed high school girls’ volleyball season. But San Marino High School head coach Angel Ramirez is thankful that there is a vibrant outdoor version of the sport which allowed for at least a modicum of participation. David Irie, the school’s director of athletics, helped assemble what was known as the San Gabriel Valley Grass Volleyball League, allowing for the Titans to experience some bumping, setting and spiking, even though schools were closed during the pandemic.
“I am really thankful that we had a something available where we could develop some team chemistry and try out some rotations,” said Ramirez. “After seeing our talent, I thought we had the potential to do some pretty good things. We have been working really hard since August and had a lot of anticipation.” The Titans will graduate three seniors — Erin Hill, Kira Glasse and Leela Anvekar — who were sophomores on the 2018-19 school year squad that won SMHS’ first Rio Hondo League championship in 28 years, but Ramirez likes what he will have coming back in the fall. Marlene Ketelaar, who will be entering her senior year in August, is an experienced setter and will have hitting options in classmates Conner Sund and Gabriela Salim. Junior Amanda Redding has shown potential at middle blocker and libero Heidi Doerges has a toolbox of skills. San Marino won its final tournament game of the season and hopes to carry that momentum into the the next year. “I am looking forward to the [fall] season,” Ramirez said. “We did everything on the fly this year but, overall, it was a good experience.”
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.
San Marino High School head coach Justin Mesa won’t believe the football season has arrived until he sees the opening kickoff sailing through the twilight sky above Titan Stadium this Friday evening at 7 p.m.
And who could blame him. Since its last game in November 2019, the sport has seen so many stops and starts it should have been accompanied by the yellow flag that flies over NASCAR races to indicate a delay in the action.
But that could all end and the Titans will begin an abbreviated schedule when Burbank’s John Burroughs High School comes calling for Friday’s season-opener at SMHS.
It will certainly be the first San Marino football game ever contested in the month of March, but Mesa has waited so long for the COVID storm to subside that he would agree to just about any stipulation to allow his squad to play.
“The kids are really excited to play,” said Mesa. “They have a high energy level right now and who can blame them. After being off the field for a year and a half, we still have a long road ahead of us. But the guys have developed this ‘us against the world’ attitude that has really brought them together. They are having a good time and that is what you are looking for.”
Mark Liang, a member of San Marino High School’s graduating class of 2015, has received a Global Grant scholarship for graduate study at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, beginning this October.
Liang will be engaged in the masters of philosophy, health, medicine and society program beginning this October. Liang’s interests align with Rotary’s area of focus that includes disease prevention and treatment. The scholarship is valued at $31,000.
At Cambridge, Liang plans to study the ways immigrants are disproportionately affected by disease when crossing borders and geographic boundaries. He expects to work extensively with the health organizations at Cambridge and the United Kingdom, extending the work he already has been doing in the United States.
Even for a time of maximum unpredictability, the sport of high school girls’ volleyball has endured the most volatile fortunes. In late February, the sport received what seemed to amount to a death knell when it was assessed that there was insufficient time to pull off a season, especially when considering its traditional manner of play as an indoor sport.
Buy like many in the business world, officials simply moved the game outdoors so when state health officials gave the green light to conduct play, volleyballers were ready.
As with most life-changing events, Julie Anding can recall one particular anniversary with pinpoint accuracy.
“December 27, 2017,” exclaimed Anding, without hesitation. “I was in Utah for Christmas and my mom and I were going to grab some lunch.”
Unlike memories of other landmark events — a marriage proposal, or finding out you were admitted to your dream school or landed that once-in-a-lifetime job — this is one date Anding would much rather forget.
“We took a one-floor elevator ride in the lodge and immediately after I stepped out of the elevator, I turned and looked at her and said, ‘I feel really weird, like I’m on a boat or something,’” Anding recalled recently. “That was my onset.”
She was spot-on in identifying the symptoms and also the very complex name for what was happening to her. It’s called mal de debarquement, a French word that means, literally, “illness of disembarkment,” a neurological condition that typically takes place following a cruise, plane trip or other event that includes sustained motion. While many feel similar effects for a short period of time, Anding’s lasted much longer — in fact, to this very day.
The sport of soccer has taken Mackenzie Dawes to scores of different locations and now, it’s going to take her to college.
Dawes, a senior at San Marino High School, recently announced that she will continue playing the sport she dearly loves when she enrolls at at Connecticut College and play for the Camels this fall. A Titan team MVP and all-Rio Hondo League first-team forward, Dawes said that although the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the recruiting process, she is comfortable with her decision.
“Coaches weren’t permitted to watch players in person, which really made things difficult,” she said. “I spent hours finding clips of film that I could use and I turned them into a highlight video. I sent the video and other information out to the colleges I was interested in with the hopes that their roster wasn’t full yet and that I could fill a position. When I came across Connecticut College, I knew almost immediately that it was the right fit for me. I got in touch with the coach and the rest is pretty much history. The more I learned about the college and soccer program, the more it felt like my home away from home. I think that a lot of people try to rush the process or simply settle for something that might not be the right fit. However, my experience was so easy and natural that I couldn’t have asked for a better college process.”