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Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

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Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

Posted on 25 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Laws are normally initiated as bills by government officials. So, it is truly unique when a law is passed because of the hard work of four teenage girls from La Habra. But that’s exactly what happened.

The Water Guardians with Assemblyman Phillip Chen at Washington Middle School.

Assembly Bill AB 1343 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 21, and it encourages a water conservation collaboration between local K-12 schools and water suppliers.

Assemblyman Phillip Chen introduced the bill. It aims to reduce water usage in schools, storm water and dry weather runoff, school pollution, and educate students about water conservation.

However, Chen wasn’t the originator of the bill. The bill was first proposed to Chen by the “La Habra Water Guardians,” Four girls, Angelique Dequit, Jessica Gallegos, Fiona Paredes, and Skye Lim.

The group of ambitious young teens raised enough money through a school dance and by the help of sponsors to travel to the state Capitol and propose the bill.

The group created a conservation plan as a school project at Washington Middle School in 2015, which won statewide praise and national recognition.

The girls are currently attending Sonora High School, but are still committed to their environmental efforts and are excited to see the water saving measures being implemented statewide.

“AB 1343 helps make water conservation an important part of our education,” Dequit said.

The project allowed for drought-tolerant gardens at the school location. The group also replaced old toilets with more conservative, newer models.

“Water is vital to California. From the water we use to drink, shower, grow our crops, to water used to generate electricity at our dams, our future success is dependent on it. Many cities and utilities are providing rebates for residents that install drought-tolerant plants or water efficient fixtures like toilets and washing machines,” Chen said.

Chen’s office had to work a lot with the Assembly’s Education Committee to ensure the language of the bill was approved of. The bill had to go through Assembly Education, Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Material Committee the Senate Education and Senate Environmental Quality Committees before it could be passed.

Through meeting with water districts to help foster their relationships with school districts, Chen learned about a lot of incentive programs that aren’t being utilized enough by the schools.

“We need to make sure that the community and the school districts are educated on water conservation and the programs that are available,” Chen said.

Although there is still much more to be done to help with the state’s drought, this bill is a good beginning to a more conscious future when it comes to water conservation.

“I think that this bill is a great start in helping get the conversation going with school districts and water districts,” Chen said. “I do believe that this bill is just a start and there is more that can be done on water conservation efforts and I look forward to working on this issue in the future.”

When asked whether or not a water conservation bill would have been considered without the help of the Guardians, Chen responded, “Water conservation is an important topic that definitely needs to be addressed, I am glad that the Water Guardians brought their idea to my attention so I could help them achieve their goal.”

“We want to create a future for our community and state where we have a plentiful water supply and all citizens are better prepared with water conservation skills for life,” Lim said.

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Two statewide honors for Sonora High School

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Two statewide honors for Sonora High School

Posted on 26 May 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Paul Krazer
For the La Habra Journal

The California Department of Education recently awarded Sonora High School two top awards.
The school has been recognized as a Gold Ribbon School and as a Title I Achieving School.

Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal Gold Ribbon: Sonora High School was recently named a Gold Ribbon School and a Title 1 Achieving School by the California Department of Education. The recognition is due in part to the school’s individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program, which helps student success.

Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal
Gold Ribbon: Sonora High School was recently named a Gold Ribbon School and a Title 1 Achieving School by the California Department of Education. The recognition is due in part to the school’s individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program, which helps student success.

“We are also so proud to be named a Title I Achieving School,” said Adam Bailey, principal of Sonora. “This award acknowledges the heart and soul of Sonora’s staff who constantly go above and beyond for all students. We could not be more proud of our school.”
To be recognized as a Gold Ribbon School, a school must send an application to the CDE.  The school must describe its program and explain why it feels it deserves Gold Ribbon designation.  The CDE then sends a team of evaluators to the school to verify the school’s claims.
Sonora’s application centered on its iPaTh program. iPaTh stands for Individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program.
The program was started in the summer of 2012 as a way of helping at-risk students to be successful in high school. It started as a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen who were deemed as being in danger of not succeeding in high school.
The four-week summer program served about 100 children and focused on elevating their reading, math and study skills.
As the first iPaTh students progressed through their freshman year, it was found that they needed further support.  The program was expanded to include an elective course they could take as freshmen as well as after-school tutoring.
But has the intervention been successful?
A great deal of data has been collected on the students’ performance. Perhaps the most useful data are those which compare the iPaTh students to those who were invited to participate, but did not do so.
So far, the data validate the program. iPaTh students outperform other at-risk students who are not in the program.
In the summer of 2013 the bridge program was repeated for incoming freshman. Meanwhile, the first iPaTh group entered their sophomore year and it was found many of them needed continuing support.  An iPaTh elective was offered for them.  Another freshman bridge program was offered in the summer of 2014 and an elective for juniors was added for those who still need support.  It is hoped that iPaTh will have a positive impact on the  graduation rate and college attendance rate of the school’s at-risk students.
In late 2014, Sonora submitted its application for Gold Ribbon School designation.  The application highlighted the success of the fledgling iPaTh program.  A CDE team visited the school in April 2015 and validated Sonora’s claims,  agreeing that the school is worthy of the Gold Ribbon School honor.
In addition to the Gold Ribbon honor, Sonora is also a Title I Achieving School.
This award is based on a school’s demographics and its students’ performance. About half of Sonora’s students get a free or reduced-price lunch.  Often, such students show lower attendance rates, lower graduation rates and lower scores on standardized tests.
Over 95 percent of Sonora’s students graduate and over 90 percent pass the California High School Exit Exam on their first try. For this reason, Sonora earned the honor of Title I Achieving School.
“We are so proud of our Sonora staff, students and parents in earning the Gold Ribbon School Award for our Individual Pathways for Academic Thinkers program,” Bailey said. “This program is a testimony to how hard a group of teachers, support staff and parents can work to improve the lives of students at Sonora each day.”

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State looks to continue local citrus quarantine

Posted on 18 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Heather Pape
La Habra Journal

The citrus quarantine affecting Los Angeles and Orange counties that was originally declared the last two years may continue for double the amount of time some had originally expected.
Two years ago, the Huanglongbing Disease (HLB), a disease that kills citrus trees, was discovered at a Hacienda Heights’ residence, and since then, a large amount of the surrounding area has been under quarantine. Ninety miles of Los Angeles County and three miles of Orange County have been contained so the bacterium does not spread further.
HLB is also commonly known as the citrus greening disease because it attacks the tree’s vascular system, causing deformed, bitter fruit before killing the tree. There is no cure for HLB. The bacterial blight is commonly transmitted by an insect known as the Asian citrus psyllids. They are gnat-sized, flying pests that first appeared on domestic fruit trees in California in 2008. They have been known carriers of the disease.

Because of an HLB epidemic that descended on Florida over the last few years, the $2 billion California citrus industry appeared to be in danger after finding the case in Hacienda Heights. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), since the quarantine began in April 2012, no other cases of contaminated trees have been reported since the initial find.
According to Victoria Hornbaker, the citrus program manager for the CDFA, the CDFA is taking proactive measures to make sure any traces of the disease are identified so the virus can be contained within the quarantine boundaries.
“Within a mile and a half, every tree is getting sampled for the disease,” Hornbaker said. “We are doing a zone defense around that initial find. The initial find tree was removed and destroyed. Every host plant within 400 meters of that original find is getting tested six times a year.”
The CDFA is being thorough and cautious with how it tests trees, in order to continue the two-year-long disease-free streak. Hornnbaker states that the reason for the continued quarantine is that the disease may remain inactive for two to five years before a tree begins to show symptoms of HLB.
“Biologically, it would not be a sound decision to remove the quarantine in Hacienda Heights at this time,” said Hornbaker. “We are going to continue with the quarantine. We need to be out there…surveying and looking for plants that are showing symptoms. We are going to be sampling plants and we are also going to be collecting psyllids and testing psyllids to determine whether or not if they are positive for the bacteria.”
For those who live within the quarantine zone, the CDFA prohibits the movement of all nursery stock out of the quarantined zone, with the exception of commercially cleaned and packed citrus fruit. Fruit that is not commercially cleaned and packed, including residential citrus, is not allowed to be removed from the property on which it is grown. The CDFA also asks that residents look for symptoms of the HLB disease their trees might be experiencing. They will drop the quarantine as soon as they feel California’s citrus is safe.

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Heights needs to test city water

Posted on 09 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Steven Ward
La Habra Journal

New mandates from the State of California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board are revamping the way cities, including La Habra Heights, are held accountable and will test for pollutants in their ground water.Seal_La Habra Heights
These regulations will ensure that cities test for metals and bacteria, which will provide reasonable assurance that streets, streams, and aquifers are not carrying pollutants downstream. Cities that are unable to provide evidence beyond doubt that they are containing bacteria and metals within their city limits will be forced to pay penalties and may be made to install urban infrastructure such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm drains, and sewers.
As the oversight of this operation, the Regional Water Board has been given the power to levy large fines on cities and individual property owners.
Due to the importance of complying with the new regulations, cities around La Habra Heights have joined permit groups aimed at collaboration between themselves to build new and improve existing infrastructure.
However, La Habra Heights has received conditional approval from the Regional Water Board to prove the city’s natural drainage system will keep contamination below the acceptable levels, a move designed to preserve the area’s rural qualities.
As a result, the Regional Water Board has imposed conditions on La Habra Heights that include, but are not limited to, the adoption of a Low-Impact Development & Green Streets ordinance.
“This ordinance requires development projects with over 10,000 square feet of impervious surface to conform to Low-Impact Development standards.  Projects meeting this criterion are required to control pollutants and runoff volume from the project site by minimizing the impervious surface area and controlling runoff through infiltration, bioretention, and/or rainfall harvest and use,” Isaac Wilhelm, the MS4 Permit Coordinator, said of the ordinance.

“Furthermore, there will be more rigorous enforcement of Municipal Code violations regarding sediment erosion, illicit discharge, septic failure, hazardous waste, construction debris, trash accumulation, dumping, and animal keeping.  It is also meant to encourage all residents to consider low-impact development strategies.”
In addition to the ordinance, the Board has also required the city to create a computer model that will be designed to document water flow across private properties, streets, and streams within the city limits. This information will be used to determine the most likely sources of pollutants and is a process known as a Reasonable Assurance Analysis.
Following the computer model, a series of tests of standing and flowing water will occur in order to locate the presence of any metals, bacteria, and/or nitrates. Each of which can come from such likely sources as zinc from automobile brake systems, animal waste and septic systems, and fertilizers. These tests will commonly take place both on dry days as well as after large rain showers.
Testing is set to begin 90 days after the completion of the RAA.
La Habra Heights will be able to continue with its natural drainage and septic systems as long as pollutants are found within reasonable levels; if the limits established by the State are exceeded, the city will have to formulate a solution that is acceptable to the Board.
Residents are already taking action to help the city retain its rural drainage qualities, one going so far as to replace his existing concrete driveway with permeable honeycomb pavers.
Information on how to keep household water flow within the state guidelines can be found at the EPA’s website: water.epa.gov/polwaste
However, Wilhelm assures that the MS4 Permit and the LID & Green Street Ordinance “will not affect the City, it will improve it.”

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Fast first half by Cal spoils home opener for Highlanders

Posted on 10 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

Adam Cooley, pictured against La Serna, led the Highlanders with 21 points, eight of which were scored in the fourth quarter of La Habra's loss to Cal, Friday night at home.

Adam Cooley, pictured against La Serna, led the Highlanders with 21 points, eight of which were scored in the fourth quarter of La Habra’s loss to Cal, Friday night at home.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

When the La Habra boys’ basketball team fell behind by upwards of 21 points against California in the second quarter, the focus was to try to chip away and take it one possession at a time.

Despite falling to the Condors 70-63, the Highlanders (10-5) shrunk an 18-point halftime deficit to just six points with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter and can carry some positive momentum into Freeway League play, which opens up next Wednesday.

“We responded well and if nothing else, we can take that away from this game,” said Dave Ploog, La Habra head coach. “In the first half, we couldn’t match their speed, so we talked at halftime about taking it possession by possession and just staying in front of them, making them shoot over us because of our length and it made a big difference.”

Down by 16 points heading into the fourth quarter, the Highlanders went on a 16-6 run in the fourth quarter, with eight of those points coming from Adam Cooley, to shrink the lead to 65-59.

But the magic ran out as Cooley missed three free throws after being fouled on an attempted 3-pointer and the Condors held on, avenging a loss to La Habra in its season opener.

Cooley, who hit his first six free throws in the fourth quarter, led La Habra with 21 points while battling foul trouble along with guards Zach Gray and Justin Jaimez.

All three players had three fouls each before halftime. Gray fouled out with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“It does affect us, we have to stay out of foul trouble in order to stay in games,” Ploog said. “A lot of our fouls were unnecessary, they were away from the basket and that’s where we have to be smart. The same thing happened against Tesoro, this is the second game we’ve been stuck in foul trouble and it costs us when we don’t have our starters on the floor.”

Peter Hutchinson came off the bench to score 10 points for the Highlanders and Alex Evanoff hauled in eight rebounds, four of them on the offensive side.

While the Highlanders finished strong, the Condors immediately quieted the crowd in La Habra’s home opener.

Forward Carlos Legaspy took control early with 10 first-quarter points. However, a basket by forward Brady Gravitt gave Cal its biggest lead of the quarter at 17-7. Gravitt also secured a team-high 11 rebounds.

Cal (10-5) only got stronger in the second quarter. Point guard Jake Mata seized momentum with three 3-pointers and five free throws, leading the Condors to a 48-30 lead at halftime.

Mata scored 19 points, leading a trio of Condors who scored in double digits. Legaspy added 16 points and guard Anthony Rodriguez scored 12 points.

A jump shot by Rodriguez gave Cal its biggest lead at 43-22 late in the second quarter.

“More than anything it was our first home game and the kids were amped up to be here,” Ploog said. “We didn’t play smart because of that. We played excited, but that didn’t translate into smart basketball and in the first half that cost us, they had too many open jumpers and give credit to Cal, they hit a lot of tough shots, which surprised us. It was hard to recover after that.”

The Highlanders focused on their defense for the third quarter while putting Cal in foul trouble on the offensive side.

While it didn’t net much of a difference in the deficit, the Condors’ outside shooters went cold and Cal put La Habra in the bonus early in the fourth quarter, which the Highlanders turned into nine made free throws.

Jaimez hit a 3-pointer, his lone basket of the game, to cut the lead to six points, but La Habra got no closer.

The Highlanders (10-5) now focus their attention to the Freeway League, where they open up on the road against Fullerton, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“In the second half, we did the things we were supposed to do, we moved the ball well, kept them in front, we rebounded better and got more steals,” Ploog said. “If we can play like that for an entire game, we’ll stay in control. Tonight, we weren’t in control in the first half and it cost us, so I think that’s what we need to take away is trying to keep control.”

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Raiders capitalize on opportunities, collect first win

Posted on 03 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora forward Jose Murillo works the ball around Cal's Jose Contreras during the second half of the Raiders 2-1 victory, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

Sonora forward Jose Murillo works the ball around Cal’s Jose Contreras during the second half of the Raiders 2-1 victory, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

WHITTIER – Execution and the ability to seize opportunities helped to lift the Sonora boys’ soccer team to a 2-1 victory over California, Friday afternoon at California High in Whittier.

While the Condors held an edge in ball control, the Raiders capitalized on their opportunities in the offensive third, something they struggled with a week prior against Western.

Senior forward Mario Madrigal knocked in the game winner on a set piece in the 70th minute.

Steve Vizarraga started the play with a free kick just outside the right corner of the box, which found the head of Jose Murillo on the far side. Murillo’s header went straight to Madrigal on the near side in front of the net, where he tapped the ball in to take the lead for good.

“That’s a testament to their work in practice, we’ve been working a lot on set pieces,” said Cory Witt, Sonora head coach. “You can design it however you want, but it has to be executed to perfection and at the end of a game like that when you’re muscles aren’t quite cooperating and your mind is going askew, to knuckle down like that in a hard fought, physical game, it was really great.”

The goal made up for a five-minute period earlier in the half where the Raiders seemed to lose focus after taking a 1-0 lead.

All three goals were scored in the second half.

Sonora (1-2-1) took the lead in the 54th minute by taking advantage of a failed attempt by California to clear the ball out of its defensive zone.

Forward Giancarlo Oros intercepted a pass and fired a shot, which was blocked by Cal goalkeeper Oscar Santana.

However, Oros collected the rebound and found a way past Santana. With a defender still pressuring, he crossed in front of the net to freshman Cesar Coronado, who finished the play with an easy score.

Sonora junior Joey Montalvo pushes the ball past Cal's Joshua Gomez during the second half of Sonora's 2-1 win, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

Sonora junior Joey Montalvo pushes the ball past Cal’s Joshua Gomez during the second half of Sonora’s 2-1 win, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

“They’re time of possession, I thought, was ineffective in a way because it was mostly in their middle and their defensive third,” Witt said. “We’ll let teams have that all day long if they want. It comes down to how you move forward and attack the offensive third. I’m happy, I thought our forwards stepped up in the second half, we challenged them to be more of a presence and they did what we asked them to do.”

But the goal only seemed to wake up Cal (6-2-0), which spent the next four minutes putting continuous pressure on Sonora’s defense.

Finally, forward Jose Contreras lofted a shot over the head of Sonora goalkeeper Luis Gonzalez to tie the match in the 58th minute.

Aside from the lone goal, it was another strong performance from Sonora’s senior keeper. Gonzalez finished with 10 saves, including a diving save in the 50th minute. Gonzalez also poked a ball away from Cal’s Andre Prado in a one-on-one situation in the 78th minute.

The Condors’ Carlos Palomares had a pair of hard shots turned away by Gonzalez in the first half, while Sonora’s best opportunity in the first half sailed high off the foot of Coronado.

The Raiders will face Bolsa Grande in their next nonleague matchup, next Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Sonora High.

“We just want to shore up our small ball, we want to play the ball quicker and understand each other’s movements,” Witt said. “We’re doing a few things where we leave ourselves weak in the back because too many guys are going forward. We’re going to work on our communication and our small ball, if we can get that shored up then we’ll be ready to go.”

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Lady Raiders overtaken late by Cal High

Posted on 04 December 2013 by La Habra Journal

sonoraby Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

WHITTIER – The Sonora girls’ basketball team seemed to be in control for most of its nonleague match against California, Wednesday night at Cal High.

However, a young and inexperienced Lady Raiders squad let a nine-point fourth quarter lead slip away, ultimately falling to the Lady Condors, 38-37.

Cal High forward Ashley Flores scored the eventual game-winning basket by putting back an offensive rebound. The basket left seven seconds for Sonora to work a play.

However, inbounding from her own baseline, freshman Meghann Henderson streaked down the court and had a decent shot at a layup, but the ball bounced off the left side of the rim and fell, giving the Lady Condors (2-1) the comeback win.

“That’s sort of been a struggle for us, but we need this experience,” Sonora Head Coach Melissa Barajas said about her team’s play late in the game. “I know they will grow, but we might have to sometimes learn the hard way how to close out games by taking care of the ball and focusing on the defense.”

Up until midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Raiders (2-3) never trailed, holding a 22-14 edge at halftime and a 31-22 lead going into the final quarter.

They were outscored in the fourth quarter 16-6.

Marissa Dunn led the Lady Raiders with 14 points, while forward Angela Martinez added 11 points and plenty of big rebounds in the second half.

However, Cal High’s size in the paint posed a problem for Sonora’s smaller inside players, which forced the Lady Raiders to try and make shots from the perimeter.

For three quarters, it wasn’t an issue as anytime the Lady Raiders didn’t come away with points, their full-court press defense found ways to force turnovers.

But ultimately, those shots caught up to Sonora. Vivian Martinez led a fourth quarter charge for the Lady Condors, leading the way with 10 fourth quarter points and 21 points overall.

With less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Sonora’s lone senior, Lauren Nakahara, fouled out, which ended her night with seven points.

But Sonora stayed strong. With just over 30 seconds remaining, Annie Wubbena hit two big free throws to put Sonora on top by one.

However, the Lady Raiders turned the ball over on an inbounds play, which set up the game-winning field goal from Flores.

“Not having Lauren in there at the end hurt us a bit,” Barajas said. “It was good to get some of our younger players that experience.”

Sonora will host Whittier High, next Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

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Imperial Middle School students earn academic honors

Posted on 25 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Pentathalon_1Imperial Middle School seventh and eighth grade students went to this year’s academic pentathlon competition and left with 109 medals, one of the top performances ever for the school.

The seventh grade Imperial Knights team took home the first place overall title in Division 2, where they competed against nine other schools.

The seventh grade Imperial Nobles followed suite and took home second place overall in Division 2.

The eighth grade Imperial Knights team claimed an impressive third place overall in Division 1.

“I am proud of all my teams. They work hard all year long and winning medals is their reward,” said Brenda Gomez, Imperial teacher and team coach.

Academic Pentathlon allows them to apply integrity and sportsmanship in team and individual exams.

The annual Academic Pentathlon is a five-event competition for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

The program encourages and rewards academic excellence among students of all ability levels.

“Pentathlon is important to me because it gives me a chance to thrive outside of the classroom,” said Brandon Ryan, a pentathlete who took home a fifth-place overall medal.
Ryan’s mother Megan added, “Pentathlon is important because it gives Brandon a chance to be challenged in something off the ball field, out of the classroom… and compete in something out of the ordinary. It’s been a pure blessing to see these minds challenged.”
Students in public and private schools compete as individuals and team members in a series of five academic tests, including: math, literature, social science, science, and essay.

Participants research and study the content outlined in the Academic Pentathlon Study Guide published annually.

The Pentathlon’s curriculum is aligned with California state content standards. The program culminates with an awards ceremony. The top scoring teams and individual students are awarded medals and plaques for highest scores.

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