After many years of effort by dedicated parents, staff and volunteers, Westchester Neighborhood School has changed its name and opened for business as Westside Neighborhood School just north of Playa Vista.

The school signed a lease for its new more-than-50,000-square-foot facility, which is more than twice the size of its previous building on Arbor Vitae Street in Westchester and includes a dramatically improved and modernized physical plant for the students.

School administrators say the new location, at 5401 Beethoven St. in an industrial section of the Del Rey neighborhood, will provide an atmosphere more conducive to concentration, an exceptionally accessible location, and the space for an indoor gymnasium.

The school held a grand opening ceremony at the new campus Monday September 12th, and classes began Wednesday, September 14th.

The 23-year-old private school educates students from kindergarten to eighth grades.

FESTIVAL OF FAITH — On Sunday, September 18th, West-chester Christian Church, B’nai Tikvah Congregation and Iglesia Aguas Vivas celebrated the inaugural Festival of Faith — a joyous celebration featuring food and live music.

The event highlighted the relocation of B’nai Tikvah Congregation from its former site on Manchester Avenue in Westchester to 8820 Sepulveda Eastway, at a location that is shared with West-chester Christian Church and Iglesia Aguas Vivas.

“We are pleased that B’nai Tikvah will be joining us at what has been our home for more than 60 years,” said Westchester Christian Church pastor John-David Webster.

“This celebration will be a great reminder that our community’s diversity is a true strength and that we all need to work hand-in-hand to make Westchester and Playa del Rey a better place.”

NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL PICNIC — The feel-good community events continue:

The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey will host its Second Annual Community Picnic, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 24th, at Westchester Park, 7000 Manchester Ave.

The event will include the presentation of the Star of the Neighborhood Awards sponsored by the Neighborhood Council.

The purpose of the awards is to identify and honor those unsung heroes of our community who quietly, persistently and without fanfare voluntarily perform good deeds that serve the needs of their neighbors and/or the community.

The goal of the Neighborhood Council picnic is to foster a sense of community spirit, while offering Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista residents an opportunity to meet their neighbors as they all enjoy a fun-filled day in the park.

Members of the Neighborhood Council will be on hand to speak one-on-one with community members about important local and citywide issues.

There will be food, games, entertainment and great community spirit.

For questions about the picnic, event chair Pat Lyon, (310) 641-0474 or

BLESSING OF ANIMALS — Not to be outdone, the community’s animals will also have a feel-good community event to call their own.

Dogs, cats, birds, rats — and a 120-pound tortoise named Tank — will be sanctified at the annual “Blessing of the Animals” service at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 9th, at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, 6700 W. 83rd St., Westchester.

“We encourage animal lovers everywhere to bring their favorite pet for this free event,” said the Rev. Peter Rood, who will conduct the blessing on the lawn at the popular Westchester parish.

“We will pay honor to all pets, from goldfish to stuffed teddy bears or even a memento.”

This year, local animal educator Sue Falcone will bring Tank, her 120-pound African tortoise, a rare foot-long snake, and a monkey-tailed skunk to the blessing.

A Native American activist, Angie Dorame Behrns, will talk about the connection between animals and the environment.

The annual blessing occurs on the Sunday closest to Feast Day of St. Francis.

The patron saint of the environment and animals, St. Francis lived harmoniously with animals, preached to birds and, as legend has it, tamed a wild wolf.

He was also deeply committed and concerned about the well-being of the environment and all of creation.

Information, (310) 670-4777 or

WORK WITH DI-FI — U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Los Angeles Office is currently seeking interns.

This is a fabulous opportunity to get involved in the political process and learn how things work from the inside out.

Interns will gain experience with the legislative branch of the federal government, assisting with constituent services and legislative projects.

Responsibilities include daily correspondence, policy research, and administrative support.

Internships in Sen. Feinstein’s Los Angeles office are part-time, unpaid and offered throughout the year.

To learn more and/or apply,

or the office’s intern coordinator, Katrina Drabeck, (310) 914-7300 or

HAWAIIAN LIONS — Get out your leis and your Loyola Marymount University regalia, for the Lions are going to Hawaii this year, and fans are invited to tag along.

Fans can join the LMU men’s basketball team in Hawaii for the 2005 Rainbow Classic Tuesday to Friday, December 20th to 23rd, in Honolulu.

The Lions will play Hawaii on December 20th to open the tournament and then may also play South Florida, Colorado State, Oregon State, Iowa State, Northwestern State and Western Michigan.

A $1,242 package that includes roundtrip airfare, four night’s hotel accommodations, game tickets and ground transportation to and from the tournament is being offered.

Participants can make arrangements themselves and just join the group for selected portions of the trip.

Reservations deadline is the end of September.

Information, Rob Anderson, (310) 338-2908.