Archive | October, 2012

Lady Highlanders sweep lancers. secure playoff spot

Posted on 30 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite the difficult environment, the La Habra girls volleyball team didn’t give a usually loud Sunny Hills crowd much to cheer about in a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Lancers at Sunny Hills High, which boosted La Habra into the playoffs, Tuesday night.

The Lady Highlanders pinned Sunny Hills (13-12, 4-6) down in the first set and kept a foot on the Lady Lancers throughout in a 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 victory that vaulted La Habra to a third place Freeway League finish.

Sunny Hills never had a lead larger than one point and the Lady Highlanders erased it each time.

“It was really important for us to get a fast start,” said Adrianne Spear, La Habra head coach. “We do a harassing-the-passer drill and harassing-the-server drill to mentally prepare them for a tough gym atmosphere like this. I know when we travel for playoffs, it will continue to be tough.”

Sophomore Ashly Hernandez was the field general, spreading the ball to different locations for La Habra’s offense. She finished with 25 assists, three aces and a pair of kills.

Fellow sophomore Lexi Kolschefski and senior Clarissa Stevenson continued to play an important role in the middle, as several tips at the net allowed La Habra’s back line to pick up Sunny Hills’ attacks more easily.

Kolschefski recorded six kills, two blocks and two aces, but outside hitter Ryana Murch led the team with eight kills and Stevenson added seven more.

“My intention was to have Ashly as our lead setter, but her knee was bothering her and it was holding us back,” Spear said. “We thought if we could run through the first round of league with two setters, we could see how her knee was doing and she did her exercises and ice sessions and it’s paid off, I think with her running the whole system, it’s really working for us.”

The first set was all about setting the tone and La Habra (7-16, 5-5) used a pair of 5-0 runs midway through the set to take a commanding 19-6 lead.

Stevenson and Hernandez held serve for La Habra on both runs and the Lady Highlanders weathered a small comeback try by Sunny Hills, breezing to a 1-0 advantage.

The Lady Lancers bounced back to begin the second and the teams traded points.

After gaining a four-point advantage, the Lady Lancers got two assists and an ace from setter Jasmine Tong to tie it back up.

Scrappy play on both sides kept the score close until La Habra regained serve with the scored tied 17-17.

Asia Williams held serve as the Lady Highlanders broke away with a 7-0 run as Stevenson’s presence at the net caused problems for the Lady Lancers’ hitters.

La Habra ended the set on a 8-1 run, setting up the potential for a sweep.

It wouldn’t take as long for the Lady Highlanders to break away in the final set.

With Nicole Mann serving, Stevenson recorded two kills, Hernandez added a tip kill and the Lady Lancers committed two net violations in a La Habra 8-0 run that put the Lady Highlanders ahead 13-6.

La Habra held off Sunny Hills once more and finished it with a kill by Stevenson to take the match, the playoff berth and a third place finish in the Freeway League.

“We haven’t been a team that looks like we play under pressure very well,” Spear said. “Sometimes under pressure we’ll fight, but we haven’t had the success of seeing that pressure and then winning. Doing this in three games is something that they needed and I couldn’t have asked for more. They fought for every point they earned.”

Jerrili Malabanan led the Lady Lancers with nine kills and was most effective at the beginning of each set.

Hannah Warner added eight kills and three blocks, while Tong assisted 23 points.

But it wasn’t enough to bring down a La Habra team that may have reached it’s next level in terms of on-court play.

“I think it’s finally clicked and I think this is what we need to propel us into playoffs,” Spear said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to handle what’s coming next.”

The Lady Highlanders finished the regular season with a 7-16 overall record, but 5-5 in the Freeway League.

Despite only two nonleague victories, Spear remained confident that her team could make a push.

“It was never a thought that they couldn’t do it, for me it was when were they going to do it,” Spear said. “I knew it was there, I had known it was there since summer, it was a matter of getting it to happen and wondering when it was going to happen.”

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Warriors too much for Highlander polo

Posted on 30 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The La Habra boys water polo team couldn’t contend with a smothering Troy defense in a 17-6 loss to the Warriors at home, Tuesday afternoon.

La Habra (14-13, 6-3) kept it close after the first quarter, but like in the previous meeting between the two schools, Troy used a strong second half to gain a significant advantage.

This time however, the Warriors (22-6, 9-0) never looked back and not only did the defense not break, it didn’t bend much either as Troy limited La Habra to one goal in each of the first three quarters.

On chances that La Habra was able to get past the defense and ring a shot on goal, Troy goalkeeper Sam Feaster was there, totaling 10 saves on 16 shots.

The Highlanders defended the deep part of the pool in the first quarter, but the Warriors’ Joe Feaster found enough space to put in two quick goals within the first 1:10.

After Bernie Hefner tallied La Habra’s first goal, Joe Feaster again found the back of the goal, leading to a 3-1 Troy lead after the first quarter.

Troy’s defense became more intense in the second quarter, which forced La Habra into seven turnovers in the quarter alone.

Midway through the second quarter, the Warriors began a large attack that resulted in four goals within a two minute span.

Trent Samaha scored twice with Feaster adding his fifth goal of the first half as the Warriors led 8-2 at the break.

Blake Ruschman scored La Habra’s second goal with 25 seconds remaining in the half.

The Warriors counterattack led to a flurry in the third quarter, with Matt Park scoring twice on La Habra miscues.

Despite a score from Ben Russell, La Habra’s deficit increased to 13-3 after the third quarter.

Feaster and Samaha added two goals each in the fourth quarter and both Ruschman and Russell added their second goals toward the end of the final period.

Jacob Moore finished the scoring with seven seconds remaining for the Highlanders.

Overall, Troy’s Feaster led all scorers with seven goals as the Warriors kept their record unbeaten in Freeway League play.

La Habra will finish the regular season with a road game at Sunny Hills, Thursday afternoon. With a win, La Habra and Sunny Hills would finish in a tie for second place in the Freeway League.

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Matt Villasenor: Charging the Sonora Offense

Posted on 30 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

At Sonora High School, senior running back Matt Villasenor has continually proven the old saying that hard work pays off.

After missing time with an injury during his junior season, the speedy senior has returned with a vengeance especially in the Freeway League, scoring seven rushing touchdowns in four games.

Four of those seven scores came in a 35-14 victory over Sunny Hills last week, as Matt cruised to 126 yards on 19 carries and also broke the 1,000-yard mark (1,008) for the season with one regular season game left to play.

Sonora’s season will be extended as the Raiders have already clinched a playoff berth and at least a third-place finish in the Freeway League.

“I wanted to have a breakout season,” he said. “My goal is to help make this team better.”

Experience and hard work have been the two most dominant factors in Matt’s successful senior season to this point as his head coach Paul Chiotti believes he’s been one of the hardest workers in practice since his first year on the team as a sophomore.

“Matt’s a wonderful kid, he’s a hard worker in the weight room and in the offseason,” Chiotti said. “He’s the kind of kid you want your football players to be. He’s a man of few words, but he definitely rallies the kids with his work ethic.”

That season would play a big role as Sonora reached the CIF Southwest Division semifinals and played rival La Habra at Cal State Fullerton for a chance to play in the championship game at Angel Stadium.

Matt still has fond memories of that clash, despite his team falling a little short.

“It was crazy, one of the best games I ever played,” he said. “It was the biggest crowd, there was so much spotlight.”

That experience drives the senior to be a leader for his teammates and that leadership has helped his team get to a point where they could once again open some eyes.

Though he may be a big quiet, Matt’s leadership shows in the way he approaches each and every practice.

“We know the kids look up to him,” Chiotti said. “They know his talent and ability, but they also respect him for his work ethic and I think Matt’s done a great job of being a leader by example.”

Perhaps it’s that leadership and focus that has transferred on to his offensive linemen, which have opened the holes for him to have six 100-plus yard games and 14 touchdowns on the season. The senior has scored at least one touchdown in seven of the team’s nine games.

“He’s been very reliable and durable for us this year,” Chiotti said. “He’s carried the workload and taken some big hits. I think the offensive line enjoys blocking for him because they know how hard he works, so they aren’t afraid to get a little dirty knowing he’s pushing right behind them.”

Sonora and La Habra face off this week in the regular season finale and if Matt and the Raiders win, Sonora would clinch a share of the league crown with La Habra and possibly Troy.

“It’s very exciting for us,” Matt said. “I can’t wait to get out there on Friday night.”

In the classroom, Matt said his favorite subjects include world history and chemistry.

And it may be no surprise when it comes to his choice in athletic role model.

“I would say Reggie Bush,” he said. “He’s got a similar style as me at the position.”

When it comes to playing at the next level, Matt said he’s still weighing his options and finding the best fit for college, but for now, his focus is to finish strong during his senior season.

“I just want to leave a legacy,” he said. “I want to be a role model for the underclassmen, someone to look up to.”

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LHCSD Candidates feel focus should be on kids

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

As the song goes, children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. These words can be considered when entering the voting booth this November. Four candidates are campaigning for two positions on the La Habra City School District’s Board of Trustees.

One incumbent, Susan Hango is seeking reelection, while current board president Paul Rodriguez is not returning. Three candidates look to challenge Hango and fill the vacant position. John Dobson, Kevin Jacobson and Liz Steves are all on the ballot. [Jacobson was not able to be reached by the time of publication.]

One of the major issues concerning whomever is elected to the board, is the challenges faced by uncertain budget cuts to education. Hango, a resident of La Habra for 48 years and board member for the last 29 years, stresses that the school board has always been vigilant when it comes to cuts.

“Two years ago we established a committee composed of staff, teachers, parents and community members who diligently compiled a comprehensive list of potential cuts to budgetary items,” Hango explained. “Many suggestions have been considered and implemented.”

Hango, who’s two daughters went through the schools in the district, sees the state budget situation as a continued concern for the LHCD board and cautions that changes might have to come.
See LHCSD Page 10

“La Habra City School District and many other districts in California are facing continued financial cuts in their budgets and may be forced to shorten the number of instructional school days,” she said.

Steves, who has children who are currently in the LHCSD, feels that working with the teachers regarding furlough days to spread the cuts around and minimize the impact on the classrooms. One thing she feels strongly about is only increasing class size as a last resort.

Dobson, a substitute teacher in the district for many years, would work with the district to pursue more grant money to offset the cuts and to maximize the available resources to the classrooms.

Another concern for the candidates are the state standardized test scores in the district.

Dobson, whose children have gone through the LHCSD, feels that districtwide changes should be made to work on increasing learning.

“I believe that there needs to be change in curriculum,” He said. “I’m not wild about project-based learning.” He said he feels you can overlook basic learning and facts supporting it.

Steves feels that communication between district, teachers and parents and a refinment of common, collaborative goals in planning curriculum changes should be emphasized. Hango too feels that communication is important, but so is emphasizing staff and utilizing data to develop curriculum.

“I believe in continuing to support our highly qualified teaching staff is very important to me,” she said. “As our technology has expanded teachers have increased ways to collect daily data on each student’s understanding and mastery of classroom subjects. The new Parent Portal increases communication between parents and teachers.”

Dobson and Steves also praised the hard-working staff and faculty in the district. Dobson added that he would work on building teacher morale across the district.

When it comes to district strengths, Steves and Hang cited the development of new programs, including the new academies at the two middle schools.

All candidates also cited the personnel in the district as one of its greatest strengths.

“There is a core of really good teachers and we need to help make them feel good about themselves,” Dobson said. “Hopefully, as money comes the district and work on getting some more really good talented teachers and staff to continue to grow.”

Hango added that “the District strength lies in dedicated Board members who support administrators, teachers and staff. We all believe how important it is to empower our students to become educated critical thinkers who will become positive citizens. We want them to be ready for their future in a global community.”

The election is set for November 6. All of candidates are running because they feel their service can help the district and the children of the LHCSD.

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Finalists named for vacant Heights Council position

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Christopher Park
La Habra Journal

La Habra Heights held a special council meeting on Oct. 18, discussing the qualifications of applicants seeking a position for city council, taking the place of former member Howard Vipperman.

Eight applicants submitted their nomination for the position, with five making the cut to the interview process on Oct. 25. The five applicants were Michael Higgins, Rafael Fernandez, William Phelps, Jane Williams and Larry Black.
Minor resistance was met regarding only choosing five out of the eight candidates for interview, however.

“It is my opinion and my opinion only, that all the candidates should be interviewed” said Mayor Pro-Tem Roy Francis “They went to the trouble of applying for this position; they went to the trouble of filling out the paperwork.”

A motion was put out to interview all eight candidates on the day of the interview, but quickly failed to pass. However, council member Brian Bergman stated that the limit of five candidates was to not be a set number.

“Whatever we determine that number to be, we don’t have to exercise that number as a true statement.” said Bergman.
After the nominees were selected, the method of interviewing was discussed, with the conclusion being the questions would not be given to interviewees before the process,

and would instead divide five minutes of impromptu questioning from each council member.

One point of contention brought up was the road tax, which would tax La Habra Heights citizens to maintain its roads. It was swiftly put down by the majority of citizens last month and was an issue that a concerned speaker believed could be reintroduced once more if a nominee who voted for the road tax was granted a seat on the council.

“If you were to appoint one of these individuals that voted yes, in theory you would have another opportunity to put it back to the people,” said George Edwards “The people have already said they don’t want the road tax. They want you to find an alternate funding for road improvements.”

Edwards also brought Higgins’, editor of La Habra Heights Life, nomination into question.

“When the water rate increased, there was very little mention about it,” Edwards said. “Could it have been because his wife was on the water board?”

Higgins responded to this assertion, stating that he attempts to keep La Habra Heights Life from being involved in any politics of the city and the community.

“I put the facts of the situation, I publish those, and I put the outcome of whatever is resolved because that’s another fact of how it’s going be at the end,” he explained. “I don’t want to get in the middle of the issues; that’s not our place.”

Despite any vocal concerns for any of the nominees or the current issues at hand, all five nominees will be publicly interviewed on Oct. 25, with elections occurring on Nov. 8.

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Our community heroes

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

It is the end of October and most people are talking about Halloween or the upcoming elections. Both of which are very important. However, as we creep into November, another holiday is fast approaching and thanks to the Old Settlers and the La Habra Historical Museum, it is getting some attention. The new exhibit is titled “Defenders of our Freedom and it spotlights local veterans who fought in service to our country in the various wars.

It’s great to see people from the community who served their country in peace time and in war. I remember as a kid, I’d ride my bike to the library, and I would often stop and look at the memorial plaque outside the doors honoring those who gave their life to defend what our country stands for. I often wondered how many people stopped and looked at that plaque. Since, I saw it as a kid, some more names have been added to it. I wonder if more people notice it now.

I drive down La Habra Boulevard and notice the names on the banners of the soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen from our community currently serving in the military and wonder how many people notice the names.

As a former soldier and veteran of the Gulf War and as a lover of history, I love hearing stories from veterans. I am the faculty adviser of the Veterans Club at Fullerton College and get to work with a lot of great men and women who have recently returned from serving and are now back and pursuing their education. It’s great to talk with and hear their experiences and stories.

I come from a line of military men. My uncles, brother in law and father in law served during Vietnam. The stories and experiences they have shared were compelling. It was a different time and cultural climate then. I can remember when we deployed for the Middle East for Operation Desert Shield, the only reference to modern war at the time as the experiences of our veterans in Vietnam (Yes, operations in Panama and Granada had just happened, but those didn’t count as a full-blown deployment at the time). So needless to say, we were nervous. I have a great deal of respect and I am thankful for all of the veterans who served our country in Vietnam.

My father and great uncle served in World War II and Korea. I even had a photography teacher in college who served in Korea. Those stories and experiences remain incredible. I would always love talking with the WWII vets. What a compelling time in our history, and what great stories to be told. I was able to research some of my father’s military history and was amazed to see just how much land in Europe he actually travelled. Transportation back then is not what it is now. So for the veterans of the Greatest Generation, my eternal gratitude and great respect for what you did for our country.

This brings me back to the museum. There have been a lot of men and women from La Habra and La Habra Heights who have served in the military. Some, like the True family have La Habra veterans spanning multiple generations. You can see some of their uniforms and artifacts on display in the museum. Some local soldiers like SFC William Brown whose remains were just recently found and returned from Vietnam paid the ultimate price to serve their country. It’s an exhibit that helps you see more to our community. You see the personal history of it and the character of the men and women who live in it. Then, while you’re over there, go ahead and walk by the plaque outside the library. Take a moment to see the names of La Habra residents who didn’t come back. You’ll feel that pride and know that despite differences, that our community is made up of great people.

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Lowell Board candidates focus on students

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Yvonne Lanot
La Habra Journal

With only two seats and three competitors, the Lowell Joint School District Board of Education has some friendly competition for the district.

According to the Lowell Joint School District website, they are “committed to providing a strong academic program of basic skills with a well-rounded program of traditional subject offerings.” They also emphasize the importance of education, family and traditional American values. And with these values, two new faces want to continue this mission statement by being on the board of education.

With two vacancies due to a retiring board member and another running for the Fullerton Union High School District Board, there will be at least one new member joining the Board of Education.

Fred Shambeck has been on the board for 29 years, while Martha Leonard and Brandon Jones are new faces running for the positions of the board of education.

Shambeck has been on the board since 1983, he believes he can bring his past knowledge and involvement with the community to the board of education once again if re-elected.

Leonard is on the Parent Teacher Association and is the Vice President and recording secretary for the La Habra Council PTA. She believes she can bring her great interest and involvement in education to the Lowell Joint School District.

“I am connected with the other schools, I collaborate well with them,” Leonard said. “I think it’s important to go see what the board has to say instead of waiting a month after the report comes out to give my two cents. I want to be there to make a bigger impact.”

Jones is a Rio Hondo College Professor and also the son of former board member Dick Jones. He believes having been in education all his life, he can bring his insight to help better the district.

“Education solves so many different problems in this world, I think I bring those opportunities to this board,” Jones said. “I’m looking for the next generation, to keep promoting great ideas and promoting the right steps and right direction.”

And when asked about what’s the greatest issue that the district is facing, they all agreed that finances and budgeting is the greatest issue.

“We’ve been doing a great job with dealing more with less,” Jones said. “Our budget might shift lower, so we need to make sure we’re making proper decisions and not being wasteful.”

And for the Lowell Joint School District, they all agree that the district is doing well and is going in the right direction with their traditions and community values.

“This school is in good shape,” Shambeck said. “Lowell keeps tradition as a valuable thing for the district.”
Leonard believes the district has so many involved parents and so many people that care, as well as teachers that are always involved.

Jones also believes that tradition has been a big part of the strengths of the Lowell Joint School District.
“We’ve got great leadership and parents who really care about our students, but also about other students and the school,” Jones said. “By keeping those ideals and traditions alive, we’ll be doing great.”

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College district candidates seek to improve student success

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Melissa Cano
La Habra Journal

The upcoming election welcomes both a familiar name and a new candidate running for the North Orange County Community College District Area 7 Board of Trustee position.

The incumbent, M. Tony Ontiveros of Anaheim, faces challenger Monika Koos of La Habra in a challenge to represent the area that covers La Habra, large portions of Yorba Linda, Brea and La Habra Heights.

The seven–member Board of Trustees guide and institute polices that maintain the general operation of the three schools within the district, Cypress College, Fullerton College, and the School of Continuing Education.

Trustee candidates are no longer elected district-wide, but by the voters of the area in which they are running to represent. In Area 7, Ontiveros and Koos hope to bring their respective ideas to the Board of Trustees.

A board member since 1999, Ontiveros wishes to continue his service to the community by seeing that the colleges follow their mission statements, including transferring students to universities, providing basic skills to the community, and providing career technical education.

If re-elected, Ontiveros said that he will work more closely with the business communities to see what type of skills are needed from college students in order to better prepare them for a career, and allow businesses to continue to flourish within the district.

Ontiveros believes that stronger relationships with K-12 districts need to be built to encourage student success and create an even smoother transition into community colleges.

“I want students to be successful with their education and in life,” stated Ontiveros, “I am thankful this district allowed me to be successful and I want to give back so that others may also benefit from the colleges.”

While Ontiveros sees the district’s strengths as maintaining a balanced budget, living within the district’s means, and having the number one transfer rate to California State University, Fullerton within the local area, he also realizes that issues still need to be addressed.

“Trying to serve students and keeping them focused and committed to their education,” is a constant struggle that the district is dealing with said Ontiveros.

He added that a goal is to get students through community college quickly while also taking their education seriously, so that room can be made for the next generation of students.

The challenger, Koos, sees different strengths and weaknesses that the district possesses and that she has the skills and experiences to help address them, which is the primary reason she decided to run for Area 7.

“I became concerned about district issues and interested in running after learning that two of the state’s premiere schools which are in our district – Cypress and Fullerton colleges – were threatened with losing their accreditation,” Koos said.

She feels that it is time the voters were given a choice to elect a “fresh voice” onto the NOCCCD Board of Trustees.
Koos acknowledges that the district has been fortunate in issuing bonds in order to improve campus facilities that were in much need of renovation.

The great full-time and part-time faculty of the campuses have not gone unnoticed by Koos either; she feels that it is important that the district compensate them competitively in order to help keep them involved with the NOCCCD students.
However, while Koos feels that these matters are important, she sees the greatest issue facing the district is student overcrowding that is due to continuous tuition increases at the CSU and UC level. The tuition increases cause more students to attend community colleges prior to transferring to a university.

Koos believes she should be elected in order to bring creative solutions to problems the district faces currently and will in the future.

“I will be the voice of innovation for the college district,” Koos stated. “I feel the voters finally have a choice and deserve a board that is not complacent to accept business as usual.”

With the election just under two weeks away, both Ontiveros and Koos promise to represent Area 7 to the best of their abilities helping to bring the Board of Trustees to its highest potential.

Each candidate brings a different voice and a unique sense of reasoning to the board, yet both have a similar goal in mind, student success.

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LHPD serves more than fries for charity

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

By Christopher Park
La Habra Journal

La Habra police personnel helped Red Robin customers with their orders last Saturday for the Tip-a-Cop event, accepting tips and donations that go directly to help fund the OC Special Olympics.

Civilian employees, sworn officers and even the athletes took part in the event, going from table to table, taking a few orders from customers while informing them of the cause for the event.

“Every time I’ve participated, it’s been very well-received and a lot of fun.” said Cindy Knapp, Bureau Manager.
The Tip-a-Cop event is something that has been ongoing with several restaurants and this marks the first time that the event has been affiliated with Red Robin, Knapp said.

The athletes joining the event were gold medalists and have won plenty more. Athlete attendees included Robert Valsquez, Leighann Manzo and Keith Jaramillo, all of whom have swam for the OC Sharks and have won dozens upon dozens of other medals.

“They’ve got a lot.” said Christian Valdez, one of the caretakers at the event. Valdez ballparked the number of the medal count at around the high 30s or low 40s.

“They’ve been doing this for many years, so they get a lot.” he added.

The event also offered a unique opportunity for the police and the public to interact with each other in a more casual relaxed setting, allowing for a greater understanding between both parties.

“You’re just trying to personalize it,” said Jerry Price, La Habra’s Acting Chief of Police “Have a personal conversation and hopefully develop a rapport so it goes towards our community and policing philosophy of building those relationships within the community.”

Customers unaware of the event were taken by slight surprise as officers approached their tables, but once the confusion settled, customers were receptive to the event.

“Having an officer approach your table while you’re eating makes them a little taken aback at first, but as soon as they understand they have good time and I think they like telling us to go get their drinks,” said Michael Constanzo, Detective “It’s a little bit of a change for them.”

“I was in the Junior Olympics when growing up,” said Alfonzo Abayon, a customer and donor on Saturday. “For underprivileged kids I think it’s a good idea to try to make their quality of life a little bit better.”

Donations will be used to offset the costs in athlete participation, including covering the costs of uniforms, supplies and transportation when athletes are sent to regional events. It’s also used to cover the separate dorms for the athletes, much like the Olympic Villages acting as a space for Olympians when participating every four years.

The Tip-a-Cop event has been going for 26 years, raising as much as $500,000 in Southern California alone. This is the first time for Tip-a-Cop to be affiliated with Red Robins and the goal is to raise $1 million across the 400 Red Robins nationwide.

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Former Wilson School students gather to celebrate and raise money for charity

Posted on 27 October 2012 by La Habra Journal

Alumni from La Habra’s once segregated school reunite to reconnect at fundraiser

By Jazmine Paniagua
La Habra Journal

A large gathering of people moved around a meeting room of the La Habra Community Center last week. They gathered as part of a reunion of classmates who attended Wilson Grammar School in La Habra when it was segregated.

The event was a fundraising dinner to recognize the reunion of the Wilson School students and raise money to help support the non-profit Rosie’s Garage

The Wilson School, which opened in 1920, was affectionately known as “La Esquelitia.” because the student body was comprised solely of children from the migrant farm workers. The school was eventually closed down and the student body was desegregated. The buildings no longer stand, but the history of the school remains.

La Habra councilwoman Rose Espinosa coordinated the event as a way to help recognize this significant part of La Habra history. Espinosa is also the director and founder of Rosie’s Garage, a La Habra-based after-school tutoring program.
The guest’s of honor for the night were the very own former student’s of La Escuelita, who went through the unfortunate patch of segregation in schools throughout history.

Some of the honorees in attendance included: Amado Reynoso, Tony Gonzalez, Enrique Zuniga, Alvina Hernandez, Manuel Ramirez, Joe Garcia, Concepcion Sotelo, Joe Gonzalez, Ventura de la Torre, Rudy Castro, Magdaleno Agular, Louie Uribe, and Ruben Mercado, who all attended the segregated Mexican school, “La Escuelita”.

One notable alumnus who was unable to attend, but sent his well wishes was the Honorable Cruz Reynoso, former California Supreme Court Justice.

Concepcion Sotelo, known to most as “Conchita,” recalled how it was like attending school then.

“As kids, we didn’t know or understand what segregation was, and I must add the we were happy attending “La Escuelita” and playing there,” she explained.

Everyone at the dinner feasted on an array of Mexican foods, (rice, beans, chicken in red salsa, carnitas, and Mexican drinks).

Musicians played live music that shuffled between classic American and traditional Mexican oldies. The music provided by “Trio Tepeyac” moved around the room serenading the tables with traditional Mexican songs.

Espinosa explained what a great privilege it was to host this event and how the proceeds would go back to help the children in the community continue to pursue their education.

All in attendance were able to enjoy an evening to recognize La Habra’s history and reconnect with old friends and classmates while helping a charity to help future children.

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