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LH author shares story of her family's journey to find freedom

LH author shares story of her family’s journey to find freedom

Posted on 20 April 2017 by La Habra Journal

Jennifer H. Lau

By Leonardo Romero
La Habra Journal

La Habra resident Jennifer H. Lau released her autobiographical narrative “Beautiful Hero: How We Survived the Khmer Rouge” on October 13, 2016 after taking 15 years to organize, write, and edit her book.
The book depicts events that Lau and her family endured in order to survive the tragic 1975 Cambodian genocide where it’s estimated that close to two million died under the Khmer Rouge’s four-year reign, according to the United To End Genocide website.
Lau is the third of seven children, and was born in the Cambodian province
Battambang in January 1970. At the age of five Lau and her family were forced to evacuate from their home and move to a countryside concentration camp where her family of seven was split into three separate work camps. Her oldest brother Vunn Hong is proud of her for documenting their suffering in order for others to learn about and discuss this atrocity that has very little literature written about it.
“This was something that happened a while ago, and reflecting on it makes it seem like it was a nightmare,” said Hong. “I still remember the things she wrote about in her book happening back in Cambodia.”
The book opens with a chilling scene where Lau and her family are making their way through a mountain range covered heavily in landmines in order to get away from Thai soldiers shooting at them.
Writing about these traumatic events proved to be therapeutic for her. According to Lau, she felt a responsibility as a survivor to honor those who passed by telling their story.
The title of the book comes from Lau’s mother’s Chinese name Meiyeng, which translates to beautiful hero.
Throughout the book one follows the struggles Meiyeng faced getting her entire family through starvation, dehydration, and illnesses.
“I want people to read my story and walk away from it feeling the enormity of how blessed they are,” Lau said, “and with that feeling I hope that they help others in any way they can.”
Lau and her family eventually moved to Hudsonville, Michigan in September 1981 where her siblings and her worked in fields picking berries.
In 1983, they moved to California and have lived in La Habra since 1987 where her family owns and operates the Boston Donuts on Imperial and Idaho.
Lau graduated from Sonora High School in 1990, and then went off to UC Irvine where she graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in Chinese / Chinese literature and Economics. Today Lau is the president of the accounting and business consulting firm Topp & Lau Inc., in Santa Ana.
“If you think your life is hard then read other people’s life stories,” Lau said. “There’s always other suffering that can help you understand and get through your own struggles.”
During her time in college Lau began to realize that she should probably document her experience, but it wasn’t until early 2000 that she began writing her story down. In 2010 she had a rough draft of her book that was originally 450 pages. After several editing phases emerged the final draft at 350 pages. The book also includes photos of Lau and her family from 1981 to 2012.
According to Lau, writing this book was the most challenging thing she’s ever accomplished, because it was such a laborious and emotionally draining process.
The book has over 50 reviews on, and 90% of the reviews are five out of five star reviews. For more information on how to purchase a copy of Lau’s book visit her official website

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Rotary recognizes student leaders

Rotary recognizes student leaders

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal

The last Rotary Luncheon honored an outstanding student in special programs at each of the local high school.
Rotarians first met Nathan  Casida when he was introduced by Commander Trotter, who is in the midst of his 15 year in charge of the NROTC program. With financial help from the school’s PTA group toured the Museum of Tolerance and met a 93-year-old survivor of Auschwitz whose tattoo on his arm is still obvious.
Nathan Casida was the cadet singled out to represent the La Habra Corps. Soon to be an Eagle Scout, Casida just completed building Navy Gray lockers for the students to store books and other possessions while taking part in drills and physical fitness exercises.
Casida is also a docent on the USS Iowa which is docked at the Port of Los Angeles.  When Casida and others from the Corps toured the battleship, he politely corrected the docent leading the tour.
Trotter pointed out a former member of La Habra’s NROTC went to the Naval Academy and recently shot down a missile in the air.
Sonora’ Battalion Commander, Kelly Cruz may be small in stature, but has no difficulty getting those under her command to follow her orders. It took a while for her to get over her natural shyness, but once she did there was no holding  her back.
With a 3.36 G.P.A. she has already been accepted and plans to attend Hawaii University.
A person of many talents Andres Zazueta composes songs, many of them on iTunes, plays for other professional musicians when they play for Whittier Christian High’s chapel. He is an integral part of the Chapel Team.
He has won the school’s  Louis Armstrong Award the last two year. He secured his scuba license while in Costa Rico.
Zazueta takes the honors’ track in math and science and plans to major in civil engineering.

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LH teen singer makes it on NBC's The Voice

LH teen singer makes it on NBC’s The Voice

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

La Habra’s Aliyah Moulden showed off her vocal skills when she had three judges fighting for her to join their team when she sang “Hound Dog” by​ Big Mama Thornton on the NBC talent show, “The Voice.”

Photos courtesy of NBC
La Habra’s Aliyah Moulden, 15, chose to be on Blake Shelton’s team in the singing competition, The Voice.

The 15-year-old songstress chose the team coached by country singer Blake Shelton.
Moulden has been raised solely by her mother after her father passed away from lung cancer when she was only a month old.
She has been an active part of the La Habra Boys and Girls club for the last 10 years.
Executive Director Mark Chavez and Program Director Patrick Favela both shared that Aliyah has been a great member of the LH Boys and Girls Clubs family.
When she was younger, her mother signed her up for vocal lessons. Aliyah explained that music has helped her find herself  growing up and while at La Habra High School.
Her singing has allowed her a great deal of opportunities at her young age.
She has opened for Caroline Sunshine, Todrick Hall and Jesse McCartney. Further, this past summer, she sang in the BET Experience at the LA Convention Center.

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American Legion Honors Firefighter And Police Officer Of The Year

American Legion Honors Firefighter And Police Officer Of The Year

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Leonardo Romero
La Habra Journal

The American Legion Post 267 hosted its 52nd annual Police and Fire Luncheon last Tuesday at the Elk Lodge to commemorate the American Legion firefighter and police officer of the year.
The local legion’s post commander, Leona Lance, began the ceremony with an introduction followed by an invocation by La Habra Police Department Chaplain Mike Murphy.

Photos by Leonardo Romero
La Habra Police officer Michael Costanzo (center) is surrounded by fellow officers after he was presented with police Officer of the Year by the American Legion Post 267 at its annual ceremony.

“We don’t choose the police officer or firefighter of the year. The departments do,” said Lance. “All we do is supply the place, food, and the plaques.”
The Firefighter of the Year award was presented to Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Rob Cendejas, but he wasn’t present at the luncheon due to a recent on-the-job incident that left him injured.  According to Battalion 21 Chief Scott Falhaus, Cendejas tore his shoulder when he fell on a rainy day while assisting a citizen entering an ambulance. Falhaus and four firefighters that work with Cendejas accepted the award on his behalf.
“We’ll hang this award proudly at the station in his office, so that when he returns from recovering he’ll see this on the wall,” said Falhaus.
During Falhaus’ speech he expressed his condolences to the law enforcement community over the recent passing of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer.
He also added that he had spoken to Cendejas earlier that day. According to Falhaus, Cendejas was disappointed he couldn’t attend the ceremony, but was very pleased that he had been chosen.
LHPD Officer Michael Costanzo was recognized as the American Legion police officer of the year, which was presented to him by La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price.

Fireman of the Year award was presented to Captain Rob Cendejas of the LA County Fire Department. Cendejas was unable to attend due to an injury, but battalion members accepted the award for him.

Costanzo’s father, Steve Costanzo, was the recipient of the same award in 2004. After his father retired from the LHPD in 2005, Costanzo began his career as an LHPD officer in February 2006.
“Michael Costanzo’s work as a field training officer, experience in identifying suspects, and developing investigations make him a deserving recipient,” said Price. “He’s doing outstanding work.”
Costanzo recalled during his speech how sometimes as a child he would see his father come home from work with scrapes on his face. He’s always admired his father’s bravery, and he knew at a young age that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps once he grew up.
His parents weren’t able to attend the luncheon, but they left a note with Chief Price that he read during his speech.
“I’m constantly trying to learn from the veterans and also from the new people,” said Costanzo. “This is a job that’s constantly changing, and I think we can all learn something from each other.”
Costanzo is in charge of training new officers, and through his guidance he instills the idea that they should always behave like the police officer they would want responding to their own family’s home.
According to Lance, the organization began planning for this luncheon one month ago.
In order to become a member of the American Legion you must have served or be currently serving in the US Armed Forces during a declared war.
Lance served as a physical therapist during World War II. For more information on how to become a member or how to donate to the American Legion visit their official website at

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Community theater roundup

Posted on 10 March 2017 by La Habra Journal

By John Francis
La Habra Journal

Local theaters are continuing their productions for the spring season.
Mysterium Theater is conducting auditions for its upcoming production of “Marriage Of Figaro.”
Auditions for  the 1920’s Downton Abbey themed Figaro will take place, Wednesday, March 8 beginning at 6 p.m. and Wednesday, March 15 beginning at 6 p.m..
You may arrive at those times for a first come first serve appointment or send an email to director, Ray Buffer at to request an appointment.
The production consists of 12 performances beginning May 11 through May 28 – Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 5pm.
The Depot Theater is located at 311 Euclid Ave. in La Habra and reservations can be had by phoning (562) 697-3311.

Whittier Community Theater will continue its run of Robert Harling’s wonderful comedy Steel Magnolias March 3 through the 11th with 8 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday nights and a lone matinee March 5 at 2:30 p.m.
The production is directed by Phillip Brickey and produced by Karen Jacobson.
Tickets for the play are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and military and reservations are easy to get at (562) 696-0600.  The theater is located at 7630 S. Washington Ave., Whittier.
Whittier’s last production of their 95th season will be “A Flea In Her Ear” and auditions will be announced in this column next month.

Westminster Community Playhouse will open its latest production, Moises Kaufman’s moving drama, “The Laramie Project”, March 24 for a three week run that will end April 9.
Directed by Lenore Stjerne, the play deals with the kidnapping and death of a Wyoming University student that was beaten and tied up just outside Laramie because he was gay.  It is not recommended for children, so be warned.  But is a powerful account of the incidents and trial that resulted in the writing of this play.
Tickets for the production are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and reservations are recommended at (714) 993-8626 and the theater is located at 7272 Maple St., Westminster.

On a lighter note, Westminster will be holding auditions for the musical, “The Wedding Singer,” a play version of the popular Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore movie that was a hit several years ago.
The auditions will be held April 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. in the theater and those auditioning should bring a headshot and resume and be prepared to sing an upbeat song and to move for the dance portion of the audition.  A cold reading of the script will also be used in the audition.
“The Wedding Singer” will open June 2 and play through June 18.  For further information call me at (6267) 533-4591.

The Stage Door Repertory Theater in Anaheim will be opening the famous Frederick Knott thriller “Wait Until Dark” March 4 for a four weekend run at the theater located at 1045 N. Armando St., suite B, Anaheim.
The productions, directed by Nick Charles, will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights with a matinee scheduled for March 12 at 2 p.m.  Tickets for the play will range from $18 to $22 and reservations can be made by calling (714) 630-7378.

The La Habra Theater Guild presents “Peter Pan” at Plummer Auditorium, March 17 – 26.
The show is directed by Brian Johnson and choreographed by Annie Lavin.
Peter and his mischievous fairy sidekick Tinkerbell visit the nursery of the Darling children late one night and with a sprinkle of pixie dust begin a magical journey across the stars that none of them will ever forget.
In the adventure of a lifetime the travelers come face to face with a ticking crocodile, a fierce Indian tribe, a band of bungling pirates, and of course the villainous Captain Hook.
A rousing book full of magic, warmth, and adventure, Peter Pan is the perfect show for the child in all of us who dreamed of soaring high and never growing up.
For more information go to:

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LH native looking to make it big in music

LH native looking to make it big in music

Posted on 23 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Genesis Miranda
La Habra Journal

La Habra may seem like a small city, but great things can come out of a close community. For Juan Pablo Castillo, known by his artist name JP Castillo, La Habra was a major stepping stone and a great memory for his singing career.

Photo courtesy JP Castillo
Local talent: LHHS graduate JP Castillo releases his first single while preparing for his EP album.

Castillo came to the United States from Costa Rica when he was only 8 years old. He and his family moved around quite a bit through cities like Southgate, Norwalk, Paramount and finally La Habra.
Coming from a musical family, it’s no wonder why Castillo has a love for music and the stage. His mother was a singer and his father was a drummer.
Growing up in a religious family, Castillo was trying to figure out his own path. In school he tended to be timid and shy. “I was trying to develop my relationship with God,” Castillo said.
It wasn’t until Junior year of high school, at La Habra High School, where Castillo met David Montoya. Montoya became the choir teacher and one of Castillo’s most memorable encounters.
Prior to Montoya, Castillo said there was no established choir class or program. The summer of his sophomore year the school offered vocal classes. But it wasn’t until Montoya came to the school that a choir program began.
When the choir was formed, Montoya wanted to create a group of student leaders, which Castillo formed part of.  “[Montoya] is a very happy person, he treated us all as individuals,” said Castillo.
During one of the many competitions Castillo attended with the La Habra High School choir, he ended up being the only male vocal. And much to his surprise he won the award for “best male solo.”
It was there at La Habra High School where Castillo developed relationships with Montoya and his classmates; and he learned vocal skills that would stay with him until this day.
“I am very grateful for that and [Montoya] opened up a whole new world for me,” said Castillo.
After high school Castillo attended Fullerton College for a couple of years, first as an instrumental major and then as a vocal major.
He formed part of the “Cabana Boys” as their drummer and later as a vocalist.
Performing with the “Cabana Boys” Castillo said he loved the energy he received from the audiences.
Although he ended up dropping out of college, Castillo’s opportunities as a singer soon followed.
After accompanying a friend to an audition at Disneyland, Castillo ended up auditioning himself and landed a job offer from Disney. It was his first professional job offer and he knew he could not let this go.
Unfortunately at that moment, Castillo was undocumented and waiting on his paperwork to arrive. He explained his situation to his potential employers and thought he would have to let it go.
Luckily all of his documentation and paperwork arrived a day before he would have had to sign paperwork for the job offer and he landed the job with Disneyland. He formed part of the High School Musical cast as the main singer and as Aladdin.
“I’m a bold person. It took a lot but it was a great experience for me,” said Castillo. “Passion must be converted into discipline.”
After that experience, Castillo went on to Osaka, Japan to work for Universal Studios and stayed there for about a year in a home studio he created for himself.
He also traveled to Europe to participate in a Michael Jackson tribute show called “Thriller Live” in London.
“I never lost my focus,” Castillo said.
Soon after, Castillo received a call from a friend who said he would be forming part of a Jackson reunion tour and that he had recommended Castillo as a vocalist.
He later received a call from Jackie Jackson himself who then invited Castillo to form part of the team.
They toured Japan, Canada, the United States and parts of Europe.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” said Castillo. “I can’t even say it was a dream come true because I never even dreamt this would happen.”
Other experiences Castillo has had are touring with artists like Prince Royce and Jennifer Lopez.
Castillo has since then landed a record deal with the label Crossover and has released a single titled “Tu Ausencia” featuring fellow artist Gotay.
He is currently working on his second single to be released sometime in the next few months and his EP album which he hopes to release later this year.
“I am an artist that wants to inspire people,” Castillo said. “Inspire all the young people to reach their goals. We all have a purpose.”
JP Castillo’s music can be found on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as @JPCastilloMusic.

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LH Rotary honors performing students

LH Rotary honors performing students

Posted on 12 January 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal

Jessica Harms came to Rotary’s Student of the Month Lunch December 15 to receive the outstanding senior in fine arts award at Whittier Christian.   Along with major roles in her school’s production as the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella” and Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” she also has been Peggy in “Godspell,” Anita in “Westside Story,”  and performed in “Cats”all produced by Biola’s Youth Theatre.
She went on to perform in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Almost Maine,” and “Chemical Imbalance” in which she portrayed Ambosia Jekyll  at Whittier Christian.

Photo Jane Williams
Outstanding performers: Sonora’s Alexis Arreguin Whittier Christians’ Jessica Harms and La Habra’s Wyatt Logan were recognized by the La Habra Rotary club for their dedication to performing.

These were straight theatrical plays, but it is musical theatre that is her passion. She has taken theatre classes all four years and taken jazz, ballet, and hip hop dance classes, tap class, and private lessons.
She is a member of Whittier Theatre Company which last year made a trip to New York City, saw several shows, toured the sights, and best of all took master classes. One was in stage combat. She can apply appropriate make up for many different roles and ages.
After she received her award she rewarded the Rotarians with a snippet of “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Alexis Arreguin represented Sonora’s fine arts stars.  A singer in the school’s  choir and a member of the Orange County Student Union for three years. Last year he performed three pieces at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s all Boys Youth Chorus Festival in January.
In theatre he had the lead in Peter and the “Starcatcher,” and Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” and supporting roles in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” and the musicals “Music Man” and “Guys and Dolls.”
Arreguin also spent the summer after his junior year operating the sound and managing the stage and lights for Mysterium Theatre in La Habra, and has been an I-Path mentor
At the same time he manages to participate in Girls’ League as its secretary as well as secretary of Friday Night Live in ninth and tenth grade and Strings Club last year.
He also is a member of Sonora’s National Honor Society, and has taken an active role in Sonora’s food drive which this year supplied food and gifts for 96 families.
He has already been accepted at Cal State Fullerton, and has applied to the following top theatre schools at Juilliard, Carnegie Mellon, NYU and Cal Arts. He plans to major in English and hopes to have a career in acting. And to demonstrate his skill he recited a portion of  his lines from Shakeapeare’s “As You Like It” which he performed last year, complete with some extraordinary animation.
La Habra’s Wyatt Logan has an uncanny knack for reproducing any accent he has heard.  He learned that while traveling around England with the Fullerton’s Children Rep in a kilt and convincing the natives he was from Scotland.  It was in elementary school that he decided to join a pal and try out for one of the group’s plays.  He quickly discovered performing gave him joy.
He began his career at La Habra performing as Walter Cunningham in “To Kill a Mocking Bird”  and went on to play Scrooge in “The Christmas Carol,” The Porter in “MacBeth,” Anthony in “I and You,” and Piggy in “Lord of the Flies.”  He will cap his high school career as Captain Hook in the production of “Peter Pan” this March, and hopes to be cast in the final play, “Robin Hood,” of the year.
He decided to attend La Habra High where Brian Johnson, the organizer of  Fullerton Children’s Rep, runs the program.
It was a fortunate choice as the Logan family was thrown into traumatic times when his father, a police officer, was seriously injured and needed multiple surgeries during which time he became addicted to acting. It was Johnson, Logan’s grandfather and his faith which supported him throughout this time.
It also helped that theatre became a family undertaking as his mother began sewing costumes for productions and working backstage, and his sister has joined the theatre program as a freshman.  The three of them now live with the grandparents and help them out.
Logan plans to go to a Cal State close to home so he can continue to help out and encourage his sister.
He is currently represented by a small agency and will continue to audition for TV and film parts.  With some urging from his principal, he gave a quick demonstration of the differences between English, Scot, and Irish accents before capping the performance with a Russian accent he is currently working to master.

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75th Anniversary_2_Web

La Habra couple celebrates 75 years of marriage

Posted on 19 December 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Leonardo Romero
La Habra Journal

When La Habra resident Burnice Riggin’s brother brought home his friend, Herbert Riggin, to stay with them in July 1941 she was extremely upset that she had to give up her room for him to sleep in. That anger towards him eventually turned into love, because five months later they got married on December 12, 1941 in East Los Angeles. 75th Anniversary_1_web

The married couple recently held their 75th anniversary celebration on Sunday, November 27 at the Rio Hondo Event Center with over 40 close friends and family members.

The festivities included live music, photos on display of them throughout the years, and speeches from family members including a special speech from daughter-in-law Linda Riggin explaining how Herbert and Burnice first met as well as other momentous occasions from their lives.

“We planned to have the party on our 75th anniversary, but everywhere we looked was already booked on that date,” said Burnice Riggin. “We had our party a little early, and everything turned out right.

When asked what the secret was to a long marriage, they said communication and remaining friends.

“You just say ‘yes dear’ and don’t talk back,” Herbert said with a laugh.

Herbert Riggin was born in Spokane, Washington in January 1921, and traveled throughout the United States as a child since his father worked as a railroad builder. Burnice Riggin’s father worked in oil fields building oil wells. She was born in East Los Angeles in June 1922.
On the day of their wedding Herbert received the unfortunate news that he was being laid off from the tire factory he worked at, because it was being converted into a factory that produced gas tanks for Boeing B-17 four-engine bomber planes.

They still decided to get married in spite of his job loss and the fact that his draft number was going to be drawn soon. 75th Anniversary_2_Web
Herbert decided that instead of being drafted into a position he wouldn’t prefer he’d rather have his choice, so he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Beginning in the summer of 1942 he was sent off to various states including Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah until he was sent overseas. Burnice followed her husband to every state he went along with their first son, Ronald Herbert Riggin.

Herbert went off to fight in World War II for three years until  his camp  was bombed and he was injured. He was flown to Fitzsimons’s Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado in November 1945. There he received his discharge papers and the honorary Purple Heart decoration for his valiant services.

Within the Riggin’s home is a room with two walls covered in frames containing documents, letters, medals, and photos collected from Herbert’s time in the military.
Post-war life for Herbert included becoming a beer delivery truck driver for Lucky Lager, and eventually became the brewing company’s top salesman in all western states. Their second son, Robert Larry Riggin, was born in 1948, and soon afterwards Burnice worked for 28 years at Washington Grammar School within the Montebello School District as a cafeteria worker.

They both retired in 1977, and moved to their current home in La Habra. According to their granddaughter Kristy McLendon, her grandparents have incredibly friendly and thoughtful neighbors that check up on them every day to make sure they’re okay and bring them food often.

McLendon shared some wise insight she received from her grandparents, “I remember they advised me when I got married that within a relationship you need to fix the problems you have, and you don’t just go out and get a new one.”

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LH Rotary honors outstanding athletes

LH Rotary honors outstanding athletes

Posted on 02 December 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal

Fall sports teams have finished their season, except for those climbing the CIF tournament ladders, so it was time for La Habra Rotary to recognize the best female and male athlete from each local high school.

Photos Jane Williams Outstanding athletes: Sonora's Isabella Camacho, La Habra's Marina Pilkington and Whittier Christian's Christa Evans were recognized by the La Habra Rotary club for their hard work.

Photos Jane Williams
Outstanding athletes: Sonora’s Isabella Camacho, La Habra’s Marina Pilkington and Whittier Christian’s Christa Evans were recognized by the La Habra Rotary club for their hard work.

The smallest athlete in the room was  Sonora’s Isabella Camacho, a member of the dance team and the Raiders best golfer, two-year captain of the women’s golf team, and Number 1 on the Freeway All-League Women’s Golf team. She shot a three over par the first day and a 77 at Western Hills and ranks fourth in Orange County. Principal Adam Bailey pointed out she has no trouble hitting a golf ball 200 yards off the tee and straight down the fairway.
A captain of the dance team, Isabella is always willing to take new dancers under her wing and make sure they know the routine’s steps.  After taking 16 AP and Honors classes, she carries a 4.41 GPA.
La Habra sent Marina Pilkington, who has played volleyball since she was 11.  While a student at Rancho Starbuck she began playing So Cal United. At La Habra she was selected as a freshman to play on Varsity, which allowed her to play with her older sister, Korinna.
Marina also began an ASB career as the Freshman Class Senator. She enrolled in the Heritage Program and has caught her teacher’s enthusiasm for history. She continues working within ASB to put on conferences and dances such as Prom and Homecoming.
In her sophomore year, she was named to the Second Team All-Freeway League. In her junior year she sprained her ankle late in the season and spent much time on the bench. At the start of her senior year she worked hard to get back in the lineup after tweaking the same ankle.  She made it back and as a lefty gave other teams trouble in the front line. As one of her coaches wrote, “Marina embodies the tenacity and motivation a coach hopes to find in any of their athletes.”
Volleyball was also the sport that brought Whittier Christian’s Christa Evans recognition, although it could have just as well been basketball. Known as “Mama Bear” on either team, she tends to other players’ needs first. Then her fierce competitiveness on the court inspires her teammates..  Christa posted a 40% kill ratio and ended the season with 179 kills and 49 total blocks leading all league middle hitters.

Impressive achievement: Whittier Christian's Justin Osborn, Sonora's Ben Angulo and La Habra's Prince Ross received recognition for excelling both on and off the field (and pool).

Impressive achievement: Whittier Christian’s Justin Osborn, Sonora’s Ben Angulo and La Habra’s Prince Ross received recognition for excelling both on and off the field (and pool).

She will need to do the same for the basketball team this year as it will be a young team. She was on the first All-League team and last year on the All-Area team,  and she was MVP of the La Habra Classic Team tournament, She hopes to major in sports psychology.
Justin Osborne, Whittier Christian’s top male athlete, was a two-way player on the football team. As a running back, he finished the season with 1,142 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, and 921 yards and 9 touchdowns receiving, not to mention completing 2 passes for another 2 TDs.
Justin has tremendous speed which helped him make 161 tackles. He had no trouble being named to the First Team All-League. He is also a three-year starter on the basketball, and volleyball teams, and was selected a Homecoming Prince.
Sonora chose  Ben Angulo, the MVP of its water polo team two years in a row, as its male athlete of the season. Ben is a member of the Under 18 Olympic Development Team. Sonora finished second in league behind Troy. They were the only Freeway League team to take Troy to 5 games in a match.
He was captain of the team and is always reliable.
To prepare for college Ben is currently taking Honors Economics, AP US government, AP Physics, and AP Calculus. He hopes to attend UC Davis and major in Sports Journalism and have a career in sports broadcasting or reporting.
Prince Ross transferred to La Habra High when he was a freshman to play football with two friends  and for its drama program As a freshman he played wide receiver and was named Offensive Player of the Year.
As a sophomore he made varsity, again at wide receiver. When a player in the lineup injured his back, Prince’s playing time increased. He did so well he was named Rookie of the Year.
It was in the CIF Championship game against San Clemente that he caught the Hail Mary pass from Eric Barriere  with no time left on the clock and his feet in the end zone. It had worked against Los Alamitos and it worked once again for the Championship. The play made the ABC TV Highlight Reel and was named the the Play of the Year for high school.
He finished the league season with 10 touchdowns.
In addition to football, Prince has a passion for acting, something he has been doing since he was with Malibu Casting.  Last year he had a role in Pajama Game and right now he reads the boards of Plummer Auditorium in “Guys and Dolls.”

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LH Tamale Festival brings hungry crowds

LH Tamale Festival brings hungry crowds

Posted on 02 December 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Leonardo Romero
La Habra Journal

La Habra’s Recreation Division held its third annual Tamale Festival on Sunday at a different and much big4c_1_img_9073-_webger location from last year. The festival’s committee led by the city’s recreation manager, David DeLeon, decided to move the event from the La Habra Community Center and it’s parking lot to the street Euclid between La Habra Boulevard and Lambert. The street was shut down for the day and was filled with over 10,000 people that came to buy tamales from the 16 different tamale vendors present.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better situation, and even though we had some inclement weather we still had a great crowd,” said DeLeon.
This year’s live entertainment came from two different stages, which included the community stage and the main stage. The community stage located in Brio Park featured various dance alh-tamale_2_webnd choir performances, and once the performances finished attendees were able to take a hands on tamale making course sponsored by Northgate Gonzalez Market for free. The main stage located in Portola Park presented performances from artists including Grammy award winning Mariachi Divas, and also hosted churro eating contests and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
This year La Habra resident, Sharon Webster, attended the festival, and when she went around asking people which tamales were the best she was told to look for the longest line.
“I’ve made tamales before and it’s a long process that could take all day,” said Webster. “I’d rather just come out and buy a couple dozen.”
The festival held contests for best salsa, best dessert tamale, best tamale, and judge’s favorite. San Fernalh-tamale_3_webndo Valley resident, Veronica Reyes, took this year’s best dessert tamale trophy with her vanilla and Nutella tamale. Anthony Navarro’s green salsa won him the best salsa category, and Brianna Sanabria took home the judge’s favorite trophy with her red salsa tamale.
The owners of The Two Tamales catering company, Gabe and Gail Garcia, won the best tamale category with their green chile tamale and cheese, potato, and chorizo tamale.
The couple has been married for 44 years, and Gabe Garcia has been making tamales for over 35 years. Their tamale company offers traditional, vegetarian, and gluten free tamales with dough that contains no lard.
“This festival is family oriented, fun, well organized, and I’m definitely coming back next year,” said Gail Garcia.
Children were able to enjoy the Play Matters Kids Zone, which featured various carnival games, trLA Auto Show 2016ain rides, a rock wall, and jumpers. Wristbands were sold for $10 that allowed the owner unlimited access to every game and attraction.
The La Habra Art Walk Association had their own section at the festival with over 25 artists showcasing and selling their artwork. Their section also featured artwork from local students.  According to the association’s executive director, Michelle Bernier, she asked the artists to demonstrate their art to those in attendance by actually working on a piece throughout the event.
“We try to create neat and unique things that you haven’t seen in La Habra,” said Bernier. “We’re trying to create a culture that will help younger ones grow creatively.”
The city’s Recreation Division received a $96,000 seven-year grant from Orange County Transportation Authority that allowed for the use of a shuttle system at this year’s festival.
People had the choice of parking at the La Habra Marketplace, Sonora High School, or La Habra High School and were picked up by an OCTA shuttle that took them to the festival. DeLeon expects to use this shuttle service for events such as the Citrus Fair, Corn Festival, La Fiesta, and next year’s Tamale Festival.

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