Kids enjoy summer science camp in Hacienda Heights

Spaghetti skeletons, frozen fossils, rocket
bottles? The kids at Manzanita Park discovered the wonders of science
this summer in Hacienda Heights.

The youngsters joined the new science discover camp offered at the
Los Angeles County park. There, they uncovered the mysteries of
chemistry, aerodynamics, space and oceanography.

And the budding scientists seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it.
The six-week course was taught by three credentialed teachers and Wendy
Carrera, a professor at Rio Hondo College, planned the curriculum.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SCIENCE

Gil Anthony Duarte picked for the Hacienda La Puente Unified school board

Gil Anthony Duarte, a member of the La Puente
Planning Commission, was chosen as the newest board member of the
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District last week.

Duarte will fill the unexpired term of Anita Perez, 74, who stepped
down effective July 2 after serving 19 years on the five-member school

He will be eligible to run for his seat in November 2013.

The La Puente Planning Commissioner and aide to Rep. Judy Chu, D-El
Monte, was chosen Thursday night over more well-known candidates. Gloria
Alderette, 63, the third-highest vote-getter in last November school
board election and a former district principal, was nominated by board
member Rudy Chavarria but did not get any more support. Henry Gonzales, a
local businessman who has run unsuccessfully for school board several
times, was nominated by board member Gino Kwok but only received two

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story DUARTE.

Boy Scout to hold health fair in Hacienda Heights

Jonathan Ong-Siong is a good Scout. And the local Boy Scout has a great idea for his Eagle project.

Why not hold a health fair for the residents of Hacienda Heights?

The 16-year-old is inviting everyone to attend his big health
fair at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church on Aug. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1

“This is a phenomenal project. He’s done a lot of research and
planning,” noted David Wallach, who’s coaching the Boy Scout on his

Jonathan grew up in Hacienda Heights, where he is a member of Troop 710 that meets at St. Matthew’s.

“I’ve been looking into a career in the medical field,” the
Walnut High sophomore said. “So I thought a health fair would be a good
choice for my Eagle project.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story HEALTH.

Chino Valley Unified postpones Mandarin academy

Chino Valley Unified kindergarten students will have to wait another year to learn how to speak Mandarin. A recent decision by district board members reversed the
implementation of a foreign-language academy to begin in the fall and
instead would bring it back in the spring for review.

The academy would have had kindergartners learning Mandarin beginning this fall. Mandarin is being taught as an elective at Ayala and Chino Hills high schools.

The program is designed to provide academic enrichment while
drawing new students into their schools and assist the cash-strapped
district. According to the district’s staff report, this program was
approved in an attempt to address the on-going decrease in enrollment of
about 500 students each year.

Public schools are funded by the state based on student attendance. More students equal more money.

Walnut athlete loses grip in “American Ninja Warrior”

Derek Nakamoto waited three years for his chance
to become America’s first ninja warrior. But in the end, the Walnut
student’s efforts ended with a slippery slide into disqualification at
last night’s final episode of “America Ninja Warrior.”

“I watched the show when I was 18 years old and decided I wanted to compete,” the 21-year-old recalled.

“He was bummed out when he found out he had to be 21,” recalled his father Art.

But the Walnut High grad wouldn’t be denied, training for his
chance on the big screen. The winner would walk away with a cool
$500,000 and bragging rights as America’s very first ninja warrior.

“It’s a dream come true, but you only have one chance,” the engineering student noted.

Everyone was surprised two weeks ago, when the Cal Poly Pomona
student posted the fastest time through stage one of the world’s
hardest obstacle course.

The Walnut resident made the gruelling course look easy. The
5-foot-10-inch athlete focused on the obstacles and pushed through.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story NINJA.

Rowland Unified’s yellow school buses going green


Rowland Unified School District is taking steps to turn its big yellow school buses green.

The district recently received $2.5 million in grants to buy
cleaner buses. The new buses are fueled by compressed natural gas, known
as CNG, eliminating the dirty diesel that powered the old buses.

Rowland Unified sees the buses as one more step in its green
initiative. Studies show CNG buses emit significantly less pollutants
such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

“When we heard about the California Air Resources Board’s
school bus program, we applied for six new buses through the (South
Coast Air Quality Management District),” explained Keith Moore, the
school district’s director of transportation. “We’ll receive another
nine buses before the end of the year.”

The Air Resources Board is trying to reduce children’s exposure to the cancer-causing pollutants that foul the air.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story BUSES.

Young Californians unfit for military service

Students falling behind in math and reading and
packing on the pounds over summer vacation have helped make three out of
four young Californians unfit for military service, according to a
report released Thursday.

The report – “Lazy Days of Summer: A National Security Threat?” –
was released by Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit organization of more
than 300 retired admirals, generals and other senior military personnel.
The report cites Department of Defense data, along with previous
studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the California Department of
Education, the Centers for Disease Control and other groups.

Mission: Readiness characterized the one-two punch of
declining academic skills and physical fitness as a threat to military

“Yes, times are economically tough. But from a military
perspective, underfunding summer programs that get kids to exercise
their bodies and brains is like asking the Army to try to save money by
teaching helicopter pilots how to take off and navigate, but not how to
land,” retired Army Maj. Gen. James W. Comstock is quoted in a press
release. “Both approaches are likely to result in mission failure.”

Among the report’s findings: Almost half of the weight
children gain over the course of the year happens during summer
vacation. At the same time, the regression in reading and math skills
that occurs over the summer accounts for up to two-thirds of the
educational gap between disadvantaged and better-off children, according to the report.

Read more in ARMY

Walnut man wants to become American Ninja Warrior

Derek Nakamoto wants to become the first
American Ninja Warrior. The Walnut resident is well on his way after
posting impressive times in the finals of the popular television series
of the same name.

In fact, the 21-year-old Cal Poly student posted the shortest time as
he worked his way through the challenging course televised on July 9 by

“It’s become a dream of mine to win this competition,” Nakamoto explained during a recent interview.

The industrial engineering student made the gruelling course look
easy. The 5-foot-10-inch athlete focused on the obstacles and pushed

The 2008 Walnut High grad has always risen to physical and mental
challenges. He wrestled varsity for the Walnut Mustangs. Nakamoto was
also on the water polo and swimming teams.

He later took up parkour when he learned Cal Poly Pomona didn’t offer
his favorite sports. Developed in France, parkour teaches athletes to
get around obstacles by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing and

“I do a lot of free running and parkour, but I’ve always wanted to
compete in the Ninja Warrior competition,” Nakamoto said. “This was the
first year I was eligible for the competition.”

Read more in NINJA.

Rowland Heights native gets her art on


Cabrina Alviar took her time getting to fine art,
but her exhibit, which closes Thursday, July 19, at Heritage Gallery at
Azusa Pacific University has been worth the wait.

Alviar grew up in Rowland Heights and spent years studying science,
inspired by her high school biology class to pursue the field. But after
getting a bachelor of science in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton,
the Azusa resident decided to head back to art school.

“In high school I was always doing art but it was more of a hobby,”
she said recently. “In a way my family encouraged me to go into the
medical field … but once I graduated I realized it wasn’t my true

Alviar had taken a few design classes in high school and signed up
for a few more after she earned her first degree, to build her
portfolio. Her hard work paid off when she got her bachelor of arts from
Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

“Growing up, my dad influenced me and encouraged me to do art. He
loved art and he taught me how to paint,” she said. “But I never thought
I could actually do that for a living.”

Read more in Melissa Masatani’s story ART.

Science classes begin at Blandford Elementary in Rowland Heights


The Youth Science Center is folding up its
tent in Hacienda Heights and moving its science circus to Rowland
Heights this week.

“We had to move our last couple weeks to Blandford because
Hacienda La Puente Unified is starting their school year on Aug. 8 and
have to get Wedgeworth ready,” said Ron Chong, chairman of the nonprofit
science center.

So if your kids are crazy about science, there’s still time to
sign them up for some interesting courses. The weeklong summer science
courses will continue through July 27.

The science classes are very popular with kids because they
are all hands-on experiences. All students in grades K-8 are welcome;
they don’t have to attend a Rowland Unified school.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SCIENCE.