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    Two Named to High School Alumni Hall of Fame

    Don Mothershead and Jayne Gasperson were named to the Pacific Grove High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame at a pep rally there on Friday, October 11, near the culmination of Homecoming Week. Mothershead is well-known in town as the senior recreation coordinator for the City and as the head of the recent campaign to rebuild the Lover’s Point Swimming Pool. Gasperson, the former Jayne Dix, was mail coordinator for the schools and is an active PG citizen and volunteer.

    mothershead 2Mothershead has worked with the City of Pacific Grove Recreation Department since 1981. Born in Chicago, he has lived in Pacific Grove since the age of four, when his parents retired here after serving on three continents with the US Army. He has been a starter for track meets at Pacific Grove High School for 32 years, ran the City’s youth soccer and basketball leagues for 27 years, still officiates some competitive basketball and has many other ties to the community, in which he and his wife, Rosemarie, raised their three now-grown children. They have two grandchildren.

    He graduated PG High with the Class of 1971. He went on to Monterey Peninsula College and then to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he graduated with a degree in physical education and also earned a teaching credential in 1977.

    Mothershead was active in college sports. Returning to Pacific Grove, he taught for four years with the Pacific Grove Unified School District before joining former Recreation Director John Miller in 1981 to create Youth Soccer and Basketball leagues and operate the Youth Center (then called The Rec. Club) in PG. “I am blessed to be tied to the community in many ways,” he says.

    jayne gaspersonGasperson has dedicated her life to her family and community. After graduating from PG High School in 1949, she married her high school sweetheart, who also graduated from PG High.

    Don, with Jayne’s support, went on to a career in the PG Fire Department, retiring in 1984, and then spending 12 years on the PG City Council. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2010. He died in 2010.

    The couple’s two sons live nearby. Brent lives in PG with his wife Monica; Gary lives in Monterey with his wife Jane. Jayne has four grandchildren: Lia, Joey and Jordan live in PG and Michael lives in Portland, Oregon. They have three great-grandchildren, Bella in PG and Hudson and Harper in Portland.

    Jayne is inspired by her late husband. She says, “I try to follow in his footsteps, volunteering and helping to do all I can to serve our wonderful city; to matter, to be productive and make a positive difference.”

    Current Breakers Give Alums a Great Homecoming Game

    From the National Anthem to the final play, Pacific Grove had it all over Soledad in the Oct. 11 Homecoming game at Breakers Stadium.

    10-IMG_727709-IMG_725217-IMG_734744-IMG_773751-IMG_7805

    Golf Standout Credits Coaches

    DSC02700_webShe started her brief golf career at age 10, when her parents signed her up for day golf camp. And it’s become a passion for Lauren Molin, standout on the Pacific Grove High School Girls’ Golf Team; so much so that she spent her fall break days touring five colleges to help her make a decision about her next few years of schooling. She has had one offer from a Pennsylvania school already, and believes that, for family reasons, that’s where she’ll be heading next year.

    “Golf is not as competitive in Pennsylvania [where she’s looking] as in California,” says the senior. But competition – and fun — is keeping her on the golf course.

    “My PG Middle School coach, Debby, was the first to make golf fun for me,” says Lauren. “She boosted my confidence. She saw my potential and wanted me to keep pursuing golf.”  That first coach found that putting was Lauren’s strong suit.

    She also credits her current golf coach, Marcia Waitt, with shaping her to be a team player. “She has had a huge impact on me,” says Lauren.

    DSC03535_webShe’s also seeing a personal performance coach to help her with her game. “If my shot is not perfect, I must learn to accept it,” she says. “It’s a game! Tee to fairway to green is boring. If I made a bad shot before, it would ruin my whole day. But now I can rebound.” She adds, “I’ve learned not to give up and to stay positive.”

    Lauren Molin is likely in the top 6 of the CCS, though current standings are not out yet. Her team plays in the final league tourney at Salinas Country Club on Mon., Oct. 21. The team is 9-2. Pacific Grove is ranked second, with Stevenson.

    Her major will not be golf, though lessons learned on the golf course will carry through to her chosen career. Her major will be electrical engineering.

     

    PG High welcomes new assistant principal

    by Michael Sizemore

    peep sean kellerThe recent resignation of Mariphil Romanow-Cole, former principal of Forest Grove Elementary School, who accepted a position at the Monterey County Office of Education, set off a quick shuffle of administrators in Pacific Grove Unified School District, sending former Forest Grove principal Craig Beller back to Forest Grove from his position as principal at the Adult School and Community High School; moving Barbara Martinez away from the position of vice principal of Pacific Grove High into the breach to fill the principal’s position at the Adult and Community High schools, and moving Sean Keller from his English teacher position to become assistant principal at the high school. Read more…»

    New Playground at Lighthouse Preschool

    by Kim Biggio

    image008A ribbon cutting was held this past Monday at Lighthouse Preschool, a parent cooperative preschool under the umbrella of Pacific Grove Adult school. A beautiful new play structure has been installed on the site to enhance the play experience of all of the children.

    Kim Biggio, lead teacher of Lighthouse Preschool, wrote a grant proposal to the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and was awarded $10,000 towards the purchase of the structure. Pacific Grove Unified School District contributed the additional $15,000 necessary to make this dream come true. Read more…»

    75 Years of Celebrating Butterflies

    by Dixie Layne

    Nate Harvey and Connor Bo 2012The costumes are ready, the bands are arranged, banners are set to wave, and the air is filling with excitement as Pacific Grove prepares for its annual Butterfly Parade and Bazaar on Oct. 5th.  For 75 years, Pacific Grove’s schools have joined together in the fall to form a parade that welcomes the monarchs back to their overwintering home, Butterfly Town USA – America’s Last Hometown.  This year the parade will line up at its host school, Robert H. Down Elementary, and begin its procession at 10:00 a.m. from Pine Street to Lighthouse Avenue and back again. The Bazaar will be held behind the school from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    1940 Butterfly Festival Ticket edit“Each year the Butterfly Parade takes us into winter – it marks the end of summer and the start of the holiday season,” explains parent and Butterfly Parade Committee member, Elizabeth Harvey. “You can feel a change in the air; it is quintessential fall.” she continues. “It is the first occasion many of our new military families see Pacific Grove in action; they see what Pacific Grove is all about.”

    The 75th anniversary of this iconic event will be marked by a special exhibit celebrating the Parade and Bazaar’s history with photos, memorabilia, and stories from 1939 through 2012. The exhibit’s tent will be part of the Bazaar and open to the public.  Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the exhibit. For many of us it will provide a chance to relive the joy and pride we felt during our own march through the streets of Pacific Grove.

    1939 Butterfly Pageant Program 1st AnnualThe first Butterfly Parade was held in 1939 and was part of a much larger celebration called the “First Annual Butterfly Pageant and Golden Anniversary Celebration,” whose purpose was to mark the City’s 50th anniversary.  According to the event’s Program, the Celebration started at 10:00 a.m. at Pacific Grove’s Municipal Ball Park with a social get-together and impromptu talks; the PTA bazaar booths opened at 11:00, and at noon the Golden Jubilee program began.  At 1:00 p.m. the Kidddie Wheeled Parade started at the Post Office, preceded by the high school band and butterfly banner with the PTA Dad’s Club supervising. Parade judges were Mrs. C.C. Stewart, A.B. Ingram, and Mrs. W.G. Cook. With the parade’s arrival at the Ball Park, prizes were awarded followed by talks about the monarchs, music, a play of four scenes described as an Indian Legend written and performed by residents. Then Leo Weber and his trained horse performed, and the event closed near 10:00 p.m. when the final curtain came down on the play – the history of Pacific Grove performed in six episodes.

    The Pageant was presented again in both 1940 and 1941, but World War II put the Pageant on a five-year hiatus. In 1947, the Pageant was revived as a three day celebration with a Parade of more than 800 children being held the preceding Saturday.

    Ford Times cover Oct 1977 editJayne Dix Gasperson recalls the 1947 Pageant. “It was a big deal. I remember performing as a soloist opening night at the Ball Park.”  News reports of the day and the 1947 program describe more than 150 local actors performing in the Butterfly Play; a lavish production with a set built by The Lighthouse Club and City employees who donated their time. The set included a real waterfall and the representation of a pine forest. The costumes were said to be treated of colorful luminous paint that provided a special effect with the use of a dark light. The Monterey Peninsula Masonic Choir performed, of which Mrs. Gasperson was a member.

    By 1950, the Butterfly Parade and Bazaar was a school event, kept alive by Pine Street School teacher Millie Gehringer and the PTA. The Parade started at Pine Street School and finished at the Boy Scout Hall where the Bazaar was held.  Although there were only 25 children marching in the 1939 Parade, in 1951 more than 1,500 costumed children from public and parochial Pacific Grove elementary schools marched in the Parade, including 34 class groups, two bands, baton groups, school clubs, Scout troops,  decorated horses, bikes, wagons, and costumed dogs and cats. In 1968, First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson visited Pacific Grove and was welcomed by some local “butterflies” – costumed elementary school children.National Geo 1963

    With thanks to those who have kept this hometown tradition alive for 75 years, we thank this year’s team for reminding us of our heritage; Robert H. Down principal Mrs. Linda Williams, Butterfly Parade Committee co-chairs Steve Rodolf and Rachel Hunter, and Historical Exhibit chair Elizabeth Harvey and her husband James.  And in turn they would all like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s Parade, Bazaar, and Exhibit.

    Mr  Gary Williams Class 2012 majorettes c1950s edit James, Elizabeth, Connor, Dexter Harvey 2edit 1958 Rbt H Down Marching Band Btrfly Parade

     

     

    Major Staffing Changes at PGUSD

    At last night’s regularly scheduled meeting, the Pacific Grove Unified School District Board of Education accepted the resignation of Mrs. Mariphil Romanow-Cole, Principal of Forest Grove Elementary School, who has accepted a position at the Monterey County Office of Education. Read more…»

    Schools Measure G Offers Voters a New Type of Bond

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    Imagine a school technology bond which does not outlive the equipment it’s meant to purchase. Voters will be asked on Nov. 5, 2013 to approve an assessment  to issue a series of short-term bonds with a finance term of three to five years, meaning that the term of each financing will match the expected useful life of the technology. At the current breakneck speed of technological innovation, it’s an important distinction. Read more…»

    Common Core Comes to Pacific Grove

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    Common Core State Standards have come to Pacific Grove Unified School District. Teachers and administrators are embracing CCSS and are looking forward to its implementation in 2014, and the anticipated results, in a big way as they attend a set of workshops scheduled before implementation of the standards in 2014-15. Read more…»

    Readin’, Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic … and Thinking

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Classroom_View web

    Common Core State Standards have come to Pacific Grove Unified School District. Teachers and administrators are embracing CCSS and are looking forward to its implementation in 2014, and the anticipated results, in a big way as they attend a set of workshops scheduled before implementation of the standards in 2014-15.

    Common Core is a set of expectations that set out what students should be learning in language arts and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through the senior year in high school. Read more…»

    Shrunken revenues threaten PG school budget

    by Michael Sizemore

    The Pacific Grove United School District has been forced by diminished revenues to engage in deficit spending for the most recent three years, according to Assistant School Superintendent Rick Miller, speaking at the PG School Board’s regular meeting September 5. Miller said that funding has been reduced for the schools by a shrinking of property tax revenues in recent years. Read more…»

    No election for PGUSD Board This Fall

    As the deadline for filing has passed, Monterey County elections Department announced that there will be no election in the Pacific Grove Unified School District for three empty seats on the board. With three candidates filing, there is no need. John Thibeau and Bill Phillips each announced they will stand for another term, filling their own spots once again. The seat to be vacated by Mike Niccum will be filled by John Pfaff, a stalwart of most school board meetings for years.

    Pfaff and the two incumbents will be sworn in in December, 2013.

    Common Core Standards for Schools Offer Academic Success

    National Standards Ensure Uniformity of Instruction Across the Board

    by Kacie Clark

    Pacific Grove Unified School District (PGUSD) teachers and staff have one more year to prepare for the nearly nationally adopted Common Core State Standards, which go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.

    The Standards have been adopted by 45 states nationwide. According to the California Department of Education Standards web page, the program is designed to equalize American education.

    Read more…»

    Reconfiguration may spell answers to class size problems for Pacific Grove’s school district

    by Kacie Clark

    The school board officially reintroduced the topic of school reconfiguration during the Thursday, June 13 board meeting.

    The idea, which has been introduced and failed three times previously, consists of reconfiguring Pacific Grove Unified School District (PGUSD)’s campuses by grade level, so that all of the students in the same grade attend school together.

    Possible splits include kindergarten through second grade at Robert H Down Elementary School, and grades three though five at Forest Grove Elementary School. There are also possibilities of bringing the sixth grade students back into an elementary setting, creating a middle school of grades seven through nine, with the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades remaining at the high school level.

    Last time the plan was introduced, it met resistance from parents, according to board member Tony Sollecito, because of the perceived inconvenience of having children at different schools, therefore requiring more driving and scheduling.

    Suggested solutions to this issue included an alteration of the bell schedule and transportation between schools to make sure children could be picked up at the same school, at the same time.

    Read more…»

    Spectre of school layoffs gone with state’s May budget revision

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    The governor’s May revision to his proposed budget caused sighs of relief at schools around the state, and no where more so than Pacific Grove Unified School District.

    The governor backed down on his January proposal which would have shifted all adult education to the community colleges, a move unpopular with both adult education institutions and community colleges. Instead, there will likely be a two-year study about how to best provide education services to adult learners, whether in core programs such as high school diploma and English learner categories or in the leisure learner categories such as exercise, computers, and art. The adult education program at Pacific Grove Unified School District provides a broad spectrum of instruction, some of which may be shifted to Monterey Peninsula College in years to come. Read more…»

    Mock Trial budget 2013

    Exhibits 47.00 (Reimburse Elaine McCleaf)
    Lodging 4,662.00 (14 rooms X $111.00 plus tax for three nights)
    Food 3,920.00 (40.00 per day X 24 students and 4 coaches X three and 1/2 days)
    Transportation 980.00 (700 miles round-trip/7 vehicles; 20 mi/gal at $4.00/gal)
    Team Dinner 500.00
    Team Sweatshirts 800.00
    Fundraising Supplies 50.00
    Team Pins 750.00
    Team Mugs/Awards 350.00
    Entrance Fee 1,800.00 ($75.00 per student X 24)

    TOTAL $ 13,859.00

    We won!

    MOCK TRIAL RESULTS: Pacific Grove’s Mock Trial Team, under the tutelage of Larry Haggquist, just took home another County Championship in Mock Trial today. Read more…»

    Architects tell timetable for Fountain Ave. project

    Ken Yamauchi, Architect presented an update to the school board at their recent meeting on the site improvement behind the Middle School which will create a permanent division on Fountain Avenue between Hillcrest Avenue and Sinex Avenue with cul-de-sacs and form a pedestrian walkway from the campus to the athletic field. Read more…»

    Raising the flag

    by Ashley Cameron

    February 19, 1945

    The day of invasion…

    Staring at the battleships swarming the harbor of Iwo Jima,

    Overcome by fear,

    He tries to get her out of his mind – but fails!

    Intricate tunnels underground, enable an “element of surprise”

    Volcanic ash fills his lungs, making matters worse.

    Pictures of her flash through his mind, refusing to dissolve.

    His vision obscured,

    His defenses weakened,

    He refuses to give up.

    Flamethrowers shoot death into the air while grenades fly like metal birds –

    The atmosphere – a blur of confusion.

    He watches as countless lives wither into crimson pools,

    Into dust and smoke.

    Ghosts advance slowly, risking what the day will eclipse.

    His breathing deepens.

    His heart pounds through his chest.

    The image of her remains,

    Not in his mind,

    Amidst the confusion of death, and blood, and artillery,

    But in his pounding heart,

    As he fears not death,

    But life without her.

    Compelled by this love, he drifts forward with remaining troops,

    The sinews of their hearts woven together

    To create a force strong enough to vanquish this enemy,

    To bring down the Rising Sun,

    To watch it set behind the hills of Mt. Suribachi

    On February 23, 1945.

    He never wanted to let her go.

    The tears he cried,

    While watching his comrades stab his country’s flag into the soil

    Of the mountaintop –

    A star-spangled banner,

    Standing proud above the sunset –

    Were tears of hope,

    For the daughter he left behind

    On this triumphant day.



    Their mascot says it all: You show the world. You are the Phoenix.

    They come to Pacific Grove Community High School for many reasons, but they’re all going places when they graduate. On their last day of high school, they were finishing up their yearbook and looking forward to the summer vacation. Younger students were working on the computers, painting banners, reading. The students are self-motivated and have diverse skills and aspirations, and the best part is that they all seem to be friends.

    L-R front row: Jenna Rambo, Joey Davies, Persis Tomingas, Kyle Sumpter. L-R, back row: Chris Butler, Mikey Selbicky. Top, Michaela Miller. Bottom, Petika Hilton.

    L-R front row: Jenna Rambo, Joey Davies, Persis Tomingas, Kyle Sumpter. L-R, back row: Chris Butler, Mikey Selbicky. Top, Michaela Miller. Bottom, Petika Hilton.

    Read more…»

    PGHS Class of ’09 Valedictorian: Jeehee Cho

    By Cameron Douglas

    In the summer before her seventh grade, Jeehee Cho moved from Pleasant Grove, Utah, to Pacific Grove, California. Since then, her academic and athletic achievements have accelerated to the honor of class Valedictorian for 2009. Jeehee took time out from her busy schedule to stop in and chat with Cedar Street Times.cho

    CST: What motivates you?

    CHO: Education is a big part of the Korean culture. My dad came to the U.S. to go to graduate school at Brigham Young University, and decided to stay because there are so many educational opportunities in this country. He wanted his children to have that. Education has been a really big part of our family. My parents have always supported me through it. They’ve never pressured me. They just told me to do my best. Going off to college, I take that same idea. I want to gain a better understanding of everything that’s going on. I want to have enough education to educate my children as well.

    CST: Are you thinking of home schooling at some point? Read more…»

    Breaker Stadium Grand Opening

    Photos by Skyler Lewis



    Photos by Nate Philips

    Scholarships, honors for PGHS 2009 graduates

    At a special reception on May 19, 2009 for seniors, their parents and guests, a number of scholarships and awards were presented to graduating Pacific Grove High School seniors. The awards were presented by the donors, faculty and staff. We are pleased to present the list of donors and recipients.

    Pacific Grove Rotary Club Scholarship …………………………Anna Spade & Alexander Spears
    Presenter: Stephanie Lee

    A T & T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Assoc. Junior Golf Scholarship ………..Michael Yanoska
    Presenter: Ted Hollister, DVM

    Granite Construction Company Golden Rule Leadership Award ……………..Lillian Clements
    Presenter: Spencer Wright

    C.L. & Mary Dean Kier Scholarship…………………………………… …………………..Sarah Dennis
    Presenter: Ms. Lou Godfrey & Mr. Sam Kier

    Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge Scholarship #331 ……………………… Alison Lord, Anna Spade
    Presenters: David Salinger & Kurt Ferguson

    Monterey County Association of Realtors Scholarship ………………………….Brandon Cepress
    Presenter: Ms. Noni McVey

    First United Methodist Church …………………………………………………Uri Hong & Jeehee Cho,
    Presenter: Sam & Betty Kier Read more…»

    PG Middle School takes Distinguished School award

    By Marge Jameson

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell phoned the Pacific Grove Unified School District office to personally announce that Pacific Grove had been awarded a Distinguished Schools Award for 2009. The district’s innovative “Dot Program” was a huge factor.

    “This reflects on Matt Bell’s tenure as principal,” noted Mary Riedel, Pacific Grove Middle School principal. She was vice principal when the Dot Program was conceived in a staff conference involving Bell, Riedel, Todd Buller and Stan Dodd. Searching for ways to increase staff involvement with students on all levels, the administrators hit upon a method of tracking staff-to-student interactivity by placing a colored dot next to a student’s name each time a staff member had contact with that student. Read more…»

    Culinary Arts at PGHS take state award

    L-R: Alyssa Van De Cort, instructor Adrian Schueneman and Mackenzie Horsefield

    Two students from Pacific Grove High School placed second in the entire state of California in the Boyd’s Coffee Culinary Cup Competition, sponsored by the California Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the highest level under the National Restaurant Association.

    Read more…»

    Looking in the looking glass: How are PG’s Schools Doing?

    by Jon Guthrie

    On a knoll near the Borunda Adobe, the Monterey County Historical Society guards one of the treasures recovered from our county’s past: a one-room school.

    Not so very long ago, pupils crowded that one room wearing pig tails and pinafores, caps and knickers, coveralls and long dresses.  They wrote spelling words and ciphers upon slates, labored to parse sentences, traveled with fingers upon a globe to far places, reveled in the antics of history.

    Read more…»

    Schools: Barbara Priest Wins Award

    Barbara Priest, Instrumental Music Director for Pacific Grove Middle School, has won the prestigious 2009 California Music Educator’s Association (CMEA) Outstanding Music Educator award for the Central Coast Section of the CMEA.  Fellow music teachers voted for their choice in the Central Coast Section. There are eight sections in California. Priest, shown above at a rehearsal of her beginning band class, will receive the award plaque at the Gala Awards Banquet at the CMEA State conference in Ontario this March.

    Priest is also the PGUSD Music Coordinator, CMEA-CCS Board President Elect, and the Pacific Grove Performing Arts Center Foundation Board and Facility Coordinator.


    State schools chief looks at Dot program

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell visited Pacific Grove Middle School Wednesday, Feb. 18 as part of an education conference he was attending. At the invitation of Dr. Ralph Porras, Superintendent of the Pacific Grove Unified School District, he came to look at the “Dot Program” for which PG received lauds in the recent Monterey County Grand Jury report (see Cedar Street Times  Vol. 1, Issue 18 of Jan. 23-29, 2009). Also at the meeting with Porras, O’Connell and staff was Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski, who is looking at the Dot Program for the entire area.

    The program was adopted for the Middle School more than a year ago in response to a previous Grand Jury report requiring that local schools seek out methods to prevent gang activity, including activities which would target at-risk students. It is aimed at creating better connections between students and staff, both in the campus setting and outside of it. And it not only uses instructional staff, but all adult staff.  “You never know who kids are going to connect with,” Porras said. And that connection is key.

    At the beginning of the semester, a chart was printed with the name of each student listed. As teachers and staff make connections with students, they place a simple dot next to the student’s name. By the end of the semester, it is hoped there will be at least three dots next to each student’s name.

    Porras says there has been a noticeable drop in “errant” behavior. Suspensions are down at the Middle School, and administrators look forward to implementing the program at the high school level and then at grade school level. It was felt that the Middle School was the place to start, however, while students are at a more impressionable age.

    O’Connell applauds PGUSD’s work in improving scholastic achievement and believes that it is a direct result of improving students’ feeling of safety at school. He says he believes the Dot Program is part of closing the “achievement gap” for middle school-aged students.

    Another question foremost on the minds of administrators, teachers, staff and the community is the budget, both in Pacific Grove and statewide.

    O’Connell was instrumental in promoting the class size reduction goals in the state and admits that those goals may have to go by the wayside in the face of the severe budget crisis facing state schools. He says he has seen some classes with as many as 40 students in other districts.

    One of the big things he likes about the Dot Program is its price tag: It’s virtually free. Staff time is used for monthly meetings about the program, and more will be expended to analyze the program, but other than the cost of paper and pens, there is no cost to the district.



    High School Honors Concert a Smashing Success

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    Photo: Guest Honor Band Conductor Paul Bambach takes a bow with the Honor Band at Saturday’s Central Coast Section Honor Concert presented by the California Association for Music Education.

    Last Saturday’s performance by the Central Coast Section was rousing. As we reported last week, more than 40 Pacific Grove High School students were selected for this honors concert from schools on the central coast from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo. PGHS students made up a sizeable percentage of the chosen students and, as always, gave an exciting concert before a full audience of family and friends.

    The concert, held at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, was divided into 3 sections, Honor Choir, Honor Orchestra, and Honor Band, each section with a different group of students and a different guest conductor. Students spend many hours in practice with these conductors. In a sense, the rehearsals are nothing short of workshops in their length and intensity. In a matter of a few days, in very intense rehearsals, each conductor moulds dozens of students from different schools into unified performing units. The process leaves the students enriched and leaves the audience impressed.

    Guest conductor of the Honor Choir, Dr. Elena Sharkova, set the high energy mood immediately with traditional Zambian song “Bonse Alba”, which had the nearly 90 singers dancing, singing, and moving energetically to this happy praise song. The Choir moved on to choral music, then a wonderful tango piece, “Libertango”, concluding with an entertaining gospel piece “You Got Ta Move”, based on an old blues song but tricked up with some very modern features, including a bit of gospel “rap”. Hard to imagine, but it worked. The Choir’s performance left the audience cheering.

    Honor Orchestra showed it’s performing prowess under guest conductor John Morrice in a selection of symphonic pieces by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Holst. The Holst piece in particular, the first movement of the “St. Paul Suite”, moved the audience into some of the lovely abstractions and impressionism of our modern era. Orchestral performance may be the hardest to master due to the nature of the string instruments, but these students, many of whom we have watched grow over the years, have risen to the challenge and have reached their mark.

    With UC Santa Barbara’s Paul Bambach conducting, Honors Band wrapped up the concert with some well executed pieces starting off with Fanfare for a “New Era” by Jack Stamp and moving on to Scenes from “The Louvre” by Norman Dello Joio. These are moody, fun pieces, but “Cloudburst” was the moodiest and the most fun, since the audience participated. As the cloud bursts in the music it begins to rain. Bambach turned to the audience to give the cue to start snapping fingers. The collective sound of an audience snapping fingers creates a realistic imitation of pattering rain. The Band concluded with Frank Ticheli’s energetic “Nitro” .



    Grand Jury commends Middle School “Dot” program

    The 2007 Monterey County Grand Jury stated in its report on gang activity that prevention is key to long-term control of gang activity, and recommended that each school district in the county encourage after-school activities aimed at including all children, including at-risk students. In response, Pacific Grove Unified School District established the “Dot” program at the outset of the 2007-08 school year. The program is described as follows: “Teachers at all school sites reviewed the list of students in their classrooms and placed a dot after the name of those students whom they knew outside the classroom, through some other activity. Those students with no dots, meaning no one at the school interacted with them outside the classroom, were assigned to a staff member who engaged with that student in a mentor capacity. There were positive changes in those students’ self esteem as they became more socially engaging and their grades improved.”
    Staff at Pacific Grove Middle School is trained in issues related to the program. The staff also frequently reviews the program and discusses it regularly at staff meetings.
    The 2008 Grand Jury set out to discover whether the program is operating as described, and whether the program is repeatable or worthy of being repeated in other school districts throughout the county. The Grand Jury conducted interviews with key District personnel as well as observing and reviewing documents related to the Dot Program.
    “In at least one instance a review of students at the middle school without dots led to ‘adoption’ of a challenged student by a faculty member. This resulted in a positive impact on that specific child in terms of academic performance,” according to the Grand Jury report. Some students targeted as potential failures saw marked improvement.
    The program is being implemented at the high school level as well.
    The Grand Jury reported that the program “has inspired new energy and focus amongst the staff at the middle school” and commended the Pacific Grove Unified School District for its innovative and inspiring “Dot” program, while recommending that PGUSD continue the program as it is currently operating and expand the program to include all students in the District. They also recommended that the district collect, analyze, and report on the impact of the “Dot” program for other schools and districts to use in deciding whether to undertake a similar program.

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