Category: Education

Keynote Speaker

Actress Viola Davis will be featured at LMU’s commencement on July 31 By Kamala Kirk Loyola Marymount University will welcome award-winning actress Viola Davis as the keynote speaker for its 109th commencement exercises on Saturday, July 31. The ceremony will be held at SoFi Stadium, and will honor and celebrate LMU’s undergraduate, graduate and LMU Loyola Law School Classes of 2020 and 2021. Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress in film, television and theater, known for her intriguing and groundbreaking roles. She is the most Academy Award-nominated Black female actress, and has been named as one of the world’s most influential people twice by Time Magazine. In 2020, Davis was ranked ninth on the New York Times’ list of the 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century. Most recently, Davis was honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award and nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Actress for her role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” She was thrice nominated for her role as Annalise Keating on the hit ABC and Shondaland Drama, “How to Get Away with Murder,” and became the first African American to receive the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The Screen Actors Guild honored her twice for the same role. Davis also garnered Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and an Academy Award in the category...

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Fostering Growth and Resilience

Sycamore Community School in Santa Monica to open for 2021-2022 school year By Bridgette M. Redman The sycamore tree, found throughout the Los Angeles area, grows fast, is resilient, and experiences annual regrowth and regeneration. These are the qualities that are inspiring a new K-8 school opening in Santa Monica in time for the 2021-2022 school year. The founding of Sycamore Community School is in response to the way children were educated during the pandemic, but also sprouts out of a lifelong dream of the principal and the way she believes children should be educated. “We see our school as fast-growing and our curriculum is designed to foster resilient kids who have high self-esteem, feel good about themselves and have empathy toward others,” said principal Mary Ann McQueen. Sycamore Community School will have a curriculum that, while recognizing the importance of technology, will emphasize pencils, crayons, markers, paint, manipulatives and, most of all, real books – the kind you hold in your hand and turn the pages. “When you think about kids (during the pandemic) having to learn virtually and primarily through a device, it is very limiting,” McQueen said. “Not because technology is bad, but because as a medium of learning, it can be tiring. It’s not as effective when it comes to things like reading.” McQueen said they plan to use technology intentionally, carefully and thoughtfully, and...

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The Highest Honor

Troop 2 BSA Santa Monica awards Eagle Scout rank to 11 remarkable youth By Kamala Kirk This month, 11 young men were recognized with the highest rank that one can earn in the Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts of America. The Eagle rank honors exemplary effort, leadership and service, and only 6% of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle. Four out of the 11 Scouts earned the honor in 2020 but were unable to have a ceremony due to the pandemic. All 11 Scouts were honored at the Troop 2 Eagle Court of Honor on June 13 and the private ceremony was held at the Gabrielino Tongva Springs in Los Angeles. Troop 2 is one of the oldest and largest Scout troops in the western United States, and in its 74-year history, Troop 2 has awarded Eagle Scout rank to 375 individuals. The troop has traveled to Scout camps and high adventure destinations throughout the U.S., and Troop 2 Scouts have saved more than 67 lives using CPR, water rescue, first aid, and other skills and training. The four scouts from 2020 are Trent Schroer, Nicolas Vaillancourt, Brian Yang and Michael Yang. Schroer and Vaillancourt are graduates of Santa Monica High School, Michael is a graduate of Loyola High School, and Brian is a graduate of Palisades Charter High. The seven scouts from 2021 are Dakota James...

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Path to Success

Venice YouthBuild alum Rodrigo Vazquez earns national scholarship By Kamala Kirk YouthBuild USA alumni Rodrigo Vazquez is a recipient of the 2020 Helene D. Stoneman Scholarship and Civic Leadership Program. The scholarship provides $1,000 awards to outstanding YouthBuild graduates who have been recognized for excellence in civic engagement, community leadership and academic achievement, with special emphasis on the students’ academic promise. “I am so grateful to be a Stoneman Scholar and receive this scholarship,” Vazquez said. “When I was young, I overcame many obstacles with the support of my YouthBuild family. Now, I’m committed to helping others succeed and achieve their goals. It is an honor to continue representing YouthBuild while pursuing higher education.” YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for a global network of 290 local YouthBuild programs in 18 countries, with 233 programs in 46 U.S. states and territories, and 57 programs in 17 other countries. In YouthBuild programs, opportunity youth – young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed – pursue their education, prepare for future careers and grow into community leaders, building brighter futures for themselves and their neighborhoods. YouthBuild primarily serves young people who lack a high school diploma and financial resources, and partners with them to build the skillsets and mindsets that lead to lifelong learning, livelihood and leadership. The Stoneman Scholarship was established...

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Teaching Kids How to Swim

Local instructor helps children develop confidence and skills in the water By Sofia Santana As summer approaches and many families will spend more time in the pool or at the beach, professional swim instructor Coach Jean-Paul Pinzón wants parents and students to feel at ease while being taught how to swim properly and at a young age. “Swimming is an especially great outlet for children during this pandemic,” Pinzón said. “It’s crucial that children as young as 6 months old feel confident and safe in the water to help enhance their swimming skills.” Pinzón always knew he had a passion to teach children the proper swimming methods as he grew up learning from his mother Kathleen Pinzón, a world renowned and trusted swim instructor in Los Angeles. Pinzón always knew exactly what it took to be a successful swim instructor and coach for the next generation of children that were eager to learn how to swim based on his personal experiences. “Swimming has been a part of my life since I was born,” Pinzón said. “I’d been swimming competitively throughout my school years and professionally in college. Then I decided to jump right into the family business of professional swim instruction and coaching.” Prior to the pandemic, Pinzón taught over 130 children per week. He has been able to modify his coaching programs to comply with safety protocols set...

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