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    Class of 2016 graduates from La Jolla High
    by LAINIE FRASER
    Jun 24, 2016 | 4142 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Nearly 300 La Jolla High seniors sat in cap and gown at UCSD on June 21. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
    Nearly 300 La Jolla High seniors sat in cap and gown at UCSD on June 21. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
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    La Jolla High principal Chuck Podhorsky receives a hug from a student. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
    La Jolla High principal Chuck Podhorsky receives a hug from a student. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
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    Co-valedictorian Sophia Elaine Eliopulos with her diploma. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
    Co-valedictorian Sophia Elaine Eliopulos with her diploma. / Photo by Sharon Hinckley
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    The University of California San Diego was the host for the commencement ceremony of La Jolla High’s Class of 2016 on Tuesday, June 21. The RIMAC Arena was packed with hundreds of family members with their hands full with signs, air horns and flowers. The feeling of excitement and pride filled the room as the graduates walked to their seats. Nearly 300 La Jolla High seniors sat in cap and gown eagerly awaiting their chance to walk across the stage with diploma in hand. “I don’t think I have ever been more proud of her,” said Maria Valdez, a La Jolla High parent. “I’ve always known she was going make it but today is about her recognizing her own accomplishments.” Following musical performances by students, a few graduating Vikings gave speeches. Many of them touched upon their common struggles and achievements over the past four years and the journey they had been on as a class. “I am scared of going out and leaving the pods and friends I have made here,” said student Maya Golderman. “Leaving that sense of security is really scary but I am so excited for what the future has to hold for each and every one of us.” “Whether it was failing that bio test or making a varsity team, we all experienced failure and success in the walls of La Jolla High,” senior class president Simon Hirschfield said. “We have all managed to navigate the complex and challenging world of high school and come out on top. Congrats guys.” After the “Go Vikes” chants ended, La Jolla High principal Chuck Podhorsky got up to speak. He focused on the hard work the students have put in over the past four years that got them to the seats they were sitting in and the caps and gowns they were wearing. His comments resulted in cheers and claps by many of the families in the stands. “You should all be very proud of yourselves and excited for the amazing experiences that lie before you,” Podhorsky said. “I know you are all going to be great.” Podhorsky went on to congratulate not only the students but the faculty and parents. “I want to take a moment to acknowledge the outstanding teachers, counselors and coaches you guys have and to remind you to share this day with your parents because they have helped get you here,” Podhorsky said. “Maybe there was a push, big or small, but they helped get you here too.” Podhorsky then introduced the San Diego Unified School District board president Dr. Michael McQuary. “This school has produced people who have gone on to become talented, influential and well-known professionals,” McQuary said. “I see nothing but promise in the faces before me and I hope you recognize that in yourselves.” Once the speeches ended, students rose row by row and walked across the stage to Podhorsky, who gave them their diplomas and a hand shake. As the names were called, parents cheered and students stomped on the ground; cameras flashed and air horns were blasted in celebration. Soon after, caps were tossed in the air and the students flooded out onto the nearby softball field to find their families and celebrate.
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    Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off set for June 25
    Jun 17, 2016 | 35804 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Thousands will flock to Ocean Beach to enjoy food, drinks, chili, live music, art and great people watching at the 37th annual Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival on Saturday, June 25. / Photo by Jim Grant
    Thousands will flock to Ocean Beach to enjoy food, drinks, chili, live music, art and great people watching at the 37th annual Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival on Saturday, June 25. / Photo by Jim Grant
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    Thousands will flock to Ocean Beach to enjoy food, drinks, chili, live music, art and great people watching at the 37th annual Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival on Saturday, June 25. The free festival will include an oceanfront chili cook-off, vendor and food booths, Artists Alley, a beachside beer garden, live music and entertainment, family friendly activities, carnival rides and games, art, the Community Mural Project and more. The street fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the 4800 to 5000 blocks of Newport Avenue, along the waterfront and in the pier parking lot, and along the cross streets of Newport Avenue at Bacon Street and Cable Street. Free trolley services will run for people parking near Robb Field (every 30 minutes) and on Sea World Drive at Pacific Coast Highway (every hour) from 9:30 a.m.to 9 p.m. There will also be a free bike valet at the intersection of Bacon Street and Newport Avenue, courtesy of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. The highlight of this year's fest will be the 50th anniversary celebration of the OB Pier, which opened on July 2, 1966. Ocean Beach MainStreet Association will commemorate the pier with photos dating back to its inception in 1966, and information about the OB Pier’s rich history in partnership with the Ocean Beach Historical Society. Other pier activities will include a kids fishing game, photo kiosk with a lifesize photo backdrop of the pier’s opening celebration in 1966, Living Coast Discovery Center’s interactive crab display and the opportunity to sign up for the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation’s annual pier jump. The Kiss tribute band will be back to rally the crowd. This time they'll support the Year of the Pier by donning their ’60s surfer best and rocking out to the Beach Boys. Attendees can stop by Rock and Roll San Diego’s booth to get a free 15-minute music lesson alongside the wild and zany Kiss tribute band, as they’re dressed in full face painting with long hair and Hawaiian shirts. The booth will also have drawings, giveaways and loads of cool stuff. The chili competition will feature more than 20 tastings from amateur entrants competing for the titles of Hottest Chili, Judges’ Award and the grand prize winner: People’s Choice Award. Chili tastings will begin at 11 a.m. and will end when contestants run out of samples. Tastings can be purchased for $2 per chili entry, or attendees can buy a master ticket for $20 to try every recipe and vote for the best. The Hodad’s Burger-Eating Competition is back by popular demand offering contestants a chance to be featured on the Hodad’s Wall of Fame at its Ocean Beach site. The Bloody Mary competition will also make a return with 15 local restaurants and bars competing for the title of Best Bloody Mary in Ocean Beach. Tickets can be purchased for $20 to sample each entry and vote for your favorites. Children and adults of all ages are welcome to purchase a $10 square to contribute to this year’s Community Mural Project. Visit the mural area on Bacon Street just south of Newport to reserve and then paint your square. After the Street Fair, the murals are sealed and installed in the community. On Cable Street, Artists Alley will feature accomplished artists and their handcrafted items. Family-friendly attractions include the Wonderland Fun Zone in the parking lot adjacent to US Bank near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Newport Avenue. The Zone will have a 20-foot slide, OB Express Train Ride for the little ones, Zip Line, Zorb balls, Hop ’n’ Rock, laser tag, kids games and more. There will be five stages of nonstop music throughout the day. Music genres include acoustic, rock, blues, alternative, Americana and more. For more information, visit www.oceanbeachsandiego.com.
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    Three valedictorians, one salutatorian at La Jolla see a bright future
    by LAINIE FRASER
    Jun 16, 2016 | 4102 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    La Jolla High School Class of 2016 salutatorian Clayton Glenn Halbert with valedictorians John Fitzpatrick Mann, Madeline Randel Gates, and Sophia Elaine Eliopulos. / PHOTO BY LAINIE FRASER
    La Jolla High School Class of 2016 salutatorian Clayton Glenn Halbert with valedictorians John Fitzpatrick Mann, Madeline Randel Gates, and Sophia Elaine Eliopulos. / PHOTO BY LAINIE FRASER
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    For the first time in La Jolla High School history there has been a three-way tie for valedictorian. The students are John Fitzpatrick Mann, Sophia Elaine Eliopulos and Madeline Randel Gates. Each of the students have displayed academic excellence with 4.81 GPAs and remarkable college acceptances. The salutatorian this year is Clayton Glenn Halbert with a 4.79 GPA. Graduation for La Jolla High School will take place 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 and will be held at UCSD. John Fitzpatrick Mann A desire to find the greater meaning in coursework and a genuine interest in classes has lead John Mann to his 4.81 GPA and his role as one of three valedictorians for La Jolla High School’s Class of 2016. “I have been fortunate enough to have an interest in my classes,” Mann said. “If you aren’t interested it is difficult to do well. For me, it was never enough to just complete an assignment or go through the steps. I have always been driven to really understand and I believe I have been blessed in that sense.” Mann says success in school was never demanded of him by anyone in his life. He has always had a curiosity about things and wasn’t satisfied with simply completing something without meaning. He says he is where he is because he wanted to be there and worked to be there. Mann was enrolled in mostly advanced placement and weighted courses throughout his entire career at La Jolla High. In addition to a heavy course load and the necessary study time, Mann filled his free time with clubs, sports and tutoring. During his senior year, Mann served as president of the mock trial club he has been a part of since freshman year. Mann has also run on the cross country track team while attending La Jolla High. In addition to participating in extracurriculars at school, Mann has donated his time over the past three years to help Hispanic students struggling with the language barrier. Combining his interest in helping those around him and his love for knowledge and education, Mann tutors students whose first language is something other than English. La Jolla High is not the only institution recognizing Mann for his academic excellence. Arizona State University has offered him a full-ride academic scholarship and an acceptance to their honors program. He plans to major in finance there in the fall. “I don’t want to say I’ve been vindicated but this has taught me that hard work really does pay off,” Mann said. For the summer, Mann plans on enjoying every last minute of his family, friends and San Diego. His family has a trip to Ireland planned and recently purchased a fishing boat, and he and his father intend on getting plenty of use out of it before he leaves. “I think this is a bigger deal for my parents,” Mann said. “It does make me happy though that I was able to make them so happy.” While speeches from the valedictorians are not required at La Jolla High, Mann says regardless of a public speech he would like to thank his parents and particularly his teachers. “I have had some great teachers here, I think La Jolla High School is very lucky and in turn so are the students,” Mann said. Sophia Elaine Eliopulos As she looks to the future with nothing but excitement, Eliopulos, one of three valedictorians for La Jolla High, can’t help but thank the people around her. Eliopulos says she was never pushed by her family to do well academically and she thinks that is why she has always been genuinely interested in school. “I didn’t even know what a valedictorian was until a few years back when my older friend was one at her graduation,” Eliopulos said. “I had no idea I was close to it until I started applying to colleges last year and my counselor was shocked by my GPA.” With a 4.81 GPA, Eliopulos says no one ever forced her to take the harder-weighted classes, and she never intended on being recognized for an academic achievement, she simply wanted to learn. This want lead her to take as many advanced placement classes as were offered and she finished multiple semesters with a 5.0 GPA. “I was just doing my thing and honestly it’s crazy how everything has just fallen into place,” Eliopulos said. “I’ve learned that hard work really will pay off in the end and that’s something I will take with me to college and beyond.” While valedictorian is selected solely based on GPA at La Jolla High, Eliopulos has excelled in other areas as well. She played volleyball for all four years of high school and was on the varsity team from sophomore through senior year. She was also a member of the varsity swim team for most of her time at La Jolla High. Eliopulos plans to study biology at UCLA starting in the fall. “I want to do something in the science pre-med area because that sort of stuff is just so interesting to me,” Eliopulos said. Speeches are not required nor are they reserved for the valedictorians at La Jolla High and this is something Eliopulos thinks needs to change. “I want to thank the people in my life,” Eliopulos said. “My family has been great and just there for me the whole way through. Sports has kept me focused and distracted in all the right ways. My friends have been the most understanding people, if I say I can’t go somewhere because I need to study they always understand and my teachers, I mean I have had some really great teachers here.” With UCLA on the horizon, Eliopulos plans to travel this summer, work as a lifeguard as she has most summers and prepare for college. “I met so many fun and exciting people at orientation,” Eliopulos said. “I can’t wait to start a new part of my life, get to know my roommates and rush a sorority, it all just looks like so much fun.” Madeline Randel Gates La Jolla High School volleyball star and one of the Class of 2016 valedictorians, Madeline Gates has recently been recognized for both her academic and athletic achievements. Gates attributes her academic success to her family support and something inside her that tells her she can do better. “I would say that my family really pushes me to be and do my best but I am also such a perfectionist with everything I do,” Gates said. “I always want to take it to the next level.” After taking a variety of advanced placement, weighted and community college courses, Gates has a 4.81 GPA and has been offered an athletic scholarship to the UCLA. Gates plans to join the Bruins and major in mechanical engineering in the fall. Gates has been taking challenging “next level” courses since sophomore year. She has also been involved in both basketball and volleyball for the past four years. Her academic success and her athletic talent is known to La Jolla High, but was recently acknowledged by her dream school. “I am a little nervous but mostly excited about UCLA,” Gates said. “It’s been four years of me playing a game I love and now they want me to keep playing.” Gates says there was the normal amount of pressure from her family to do well in school. They have always been and will continue to be her support system through everything. “There were no crazy expectations from my family, I had no expectations and then this happened,” Gates said. Gates says she can see her family support and her perfectionist qualities impact the way she plays sports and in her academics. “I just want to be the best I can and I want to make them proud,” Gates said. “I don’t do anything, academically or athletically, with half of the effort and they don’t want me to.” Clayton Glenn Halbert Ending the semester with a 4.79 GPA, Halbert looks back on his time at La Jolla High fondly but looks to the future for greater success. Halbert is the salutatorian for La Jolla High School’s Class of 2016. Halbert says he got his GPA by taking every advanced placement class that was offered to him and doing exceptionally well in them. He also took a number of community college courses offered at the high school. Not only has he taken on a challenging number of courses since sophomore year, but he has also been greatly involved in a variety of extracurriculars. Halbert is a member of the speech and debate team, mock trial, quiz bowl and the math team. He also sings in the Saint Paul’s Gentlemen's Choir and the First United Methodist Church Choir. His academic excellence has earned him a spot at the University of California Berkeley where he plans to major in physics starting in the fall. “I mean it’s Berkeley so yeah I’m really excited and ready to get out there,” Halbert said. Halbert says he wants to make a speech at graduation and wants to make sure people understand how important the high school experience is. “High school is an opportunity to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and I did not take advantage of that,” Halbert said. “I wish I had but I didn’t and so I would tell people to not miss out on this opportunity. I plan to make up for my missing out in college.” Halbert says he has always sort of been a valedictorian-type of kid. His parents have held their expectations pretty high from the start. He feels that because of their pressure, he did well and would thank them for urging him to do better. “They have always been expecting me to do well,” Halbert said. “I am happy I could make them happy and yeah this is great. I am really honored to finally be recognized and it is nice to be the representative of hard work.”
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    La Jolla High seniors visit their past, and eat pizza
    by LAINIE FRASER
    Jun 13, 2016 | 9213 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Students Julia Albanez, Nicole Bertrand, and Andrea Albanez at the party. / Photo by Lainie Fraser
    Students Julia Albanez, Nicole Bertrand, and Andrea Albanez at the party. / Photo by Lainie Fraser
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    After a while of talking, hugging and eating, the roughly 50 students gathered for a group photo. / Photo by Lainie Fraser
    After a while of talking, hugging and eating, the roughly 50 students gathered for a group photo. / Photo by Lainie Fraser
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    Pizza, past teachers, yearbooks and a game of trivia brought La Jolla Elementary’s class of 2009 back together for an hour of memories and celebration. The students from the class of 2009, now graduating high school seniors, were invited back for the final Pizza Wednesday of the year this week. “Pizza Wednesday is something we have always done here at La Jolla Elementary,” said Ms. Cathy, a second grade teacher. “I think this will take them back and be a good way to send them off.” As the soon to be high school graduates flooded into their elementary school library, looks of surprise and excitement came across their faces. Many of them hadn’t seen each other since they were finger painting and pouring glue on each other and now they were discussing where they were going to college. “All I really remember about school was thinking this room was huge and probably that my mom was going to be mad I threw glue at this kid,” former student Jared Medina said as he grabbed his friend Jake Harrison’s arm. “I am so excited to see some of my friends from first grade,” former student Nicole Bertrand said. “I haven’t seen these faces in forever.” There was talk about what they all had been up to, their majors and their plans for the summer. Students reminisced about stories and projects, activities and meltdowns, field trips and performances. Every conversation started with something along the lines of, “do you remember when” and ended with “I can’t believe it’s been this long.” “I can’t wait to get out of the state, start over and be my own person,” former student Darla Rodriguez said. “Seeing everyone now though is making me a little sad to be honest, there are so many memories here.” Statements like, “I haven’t seen you since middle school” and “Oh my goodness, seven years and you haven’t changed one bit” were repeatedly yelled across the room as the students slowly began to recognize more of each other. When the teachers entered the room there was absolute shock on many of their faces. Almost immediately they began pulling out class photos and arts and crafts projects they had collected over the years. “I remember everyone,” Ms. Allison, a kindergarten teacher, said. “I can recognize them all surprisingly, but in my mind they are still 5. They have all just grown up so much it’s shocking.” After a while of talking, hugging and eating, the roughly 50 students formed a circle and shared the names of the schools they were attending in the fall. Schools like Northwestern, University of Arizona, San Francisco State University, University of Southern California, UCLA, UCSD, UCB, San Diego State University and University of San Diego were among the many mentioned. “They are an impressive class,” Ms. Allison said. “Not to brag but to brag they were amazing when we had them and they have made us proud.” When the game of trivia got under way many of the students seemed surprised by how much they remembered about events that happened nearly seven years ago. Trivia questions included the name of their third grade play and who played what character, the themes for different performances, which teacher had what funny objects in their classrooms and where buildings use to be prior to the renovations. According to Ms. Cathy, the point of the afternoon was to acknowledge how far they have come, and to remember the small steps they took along the way. “I just want them all to remember what they learned here and the friends and memories they made here,” Ms. Cathy said. “We are so very proud of each and every one of them.”
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    Still no solutions yet for pinniped problem in La Jolla
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jun 10, 2016 | 11639 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A sea lion gets splashed by a wave at La Jolla Cove. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    A sea lion gets splashed by a wave at La Jolla Cove. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    There is a serious problem. Something needs to be done about it immediately. And current law allows communities to use non-lethal measures, without special permitting, to disperse problematic pinnipeds. That was the general consensus at a June 9 special meeting held by La Jolla Town Council dubbed “Crisis in the Cove.” A spill-over crowd attended the tense, 90 minute meeting, during which animal-protection advocates and beach-access proponents exchanged differing views. At issue is the alarming spread of sea lions at the Cove, and what can be done about it. The feisty, sometimes-aggressive marine mammals have been gathering at the Cove in ever-greater numbers, fouling its waters. So much so that this year's September Rough Water Swim there had to be cancelled. Sea lions also have increasingly been hauling out on the Cove beach where they pollute the sand and stairs, posing a potential threat to humans and interfering with lifeguards performing their duties. “I've gotten two kinds of emails,” noted La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) president Ann Kerr Bache. “There are those who say, 'Just leave them (sea lions) alone.' And those who say, 'Take action to get rid of them.'” “This issue deals with public safety – and it's a process,” said Kerr Bache, noting sea lions are gradually “taking over the Cove.” “We're here tonight to hear from all sides,” she added. The testy crowd of largely displaced ocean users came to vet and wanted answers. They spoke their piece. But received little in the way of answers – or assurances – from public officials as to how – or when – the issue would be dealt with. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokesperson Michelle Zetwo was asked pointedly if the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) safeguarding pinnipeds allows troublesome animals to be counteracted with non-harmful forms of deterrence. Zetwo replied, “The Act allows for animals to be non-lethally removed if the public's health and safety is at-risk. We (NOAA) have a variety of deterrence methods.” Queried as to whether the public could take that on, Zetwo answered, “No, just federal or state government officials or employees.” “What rights do we have if threatened by sea lions, don't we have rights?,” asked one audience member. To which someone else replied, “Common sense should tell you to stay away.” Phyllis Minick, a member of La Jolla Parks and Beaches Inc., which advises the city on coastal parks, noted the law allows appropriate measures to be taken against other pests like rodents and insects. Megan Heine of Brockton Villa, a restaurant just above the Cove that gets the worst of the noxious smells and loud noises from down below, said, “We've felt a tremendous (negative) economic impact” while calling the worsening situation with Cove pollution a “tragedy.” Another resident near the Cove complained of its “unbearable smell” and of sea lions barking at all hours, which he described as “worse than a pack of dogs.” Animal proponent, Shirley Hill, argued, “This is a marine reserve and it's our responsibility to protect the animals from human interaction. They were on the bluffs and you opened up the gate and allowed people there, and now they're on the beach.” Nancy Lee, characterizing the Cove as a “national treasure,” said she'd like to see it “made into a federal (wildlife) park. It's like the Galapagos in our backyard, and yet we're here talking about being cruel and mean-spirited to marine mammals.” Longtime La Jolla parks planner and community activist Melinda Merryweather, noted, “It's your Constitutional right in California to enter the ocean. We're being told it's polluted, and that you can get rid of the source of the pollution. It's up to you (La Jollans) to do that.” Kerr Bache encouraged the public to email her on the seal lion issue at president@lajollatowncouncil.org.
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