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New Year Rings in Success at SPHS
Posted by: Sylvia Carroll Published: 3/10/15

The year 2015 has come in casting a lovely net of positivity and accomplishment at South Pasadena High School.  In fact, the accolades for, and activities of, the staff and students are happening fast and furiously.

The campus now has several gardens, initiated several years ago by the A.P. Environmental Science students, also known as the APES students. They have now joined in a collaborative effort with some of special needs students who are focusing on community connectedness and applicable life skills.

The Academic Decathlon team, in just three years of current existence, has become THE team to watch in the Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon competition.  Placing first in the most recent L.A. County competition, the team is also ranked nationally in fourth place. One of the most compelling parts of this team is that it necessarily has to have participation from students with a variety of GPAs, so it is much more inclusive than one might initially assume.

The Skills USA students have participated in regional competitions and earned enough gold medals to qualify about forty students for the upcoming State competition in San Diego.  Again, this is a diverse group of students who are working together to demonstrate their skills in such areas as woodworking and cabinetry, computer applications, photography, screen printing, firefighting, and marketing, to name a few.

During the last weekend in February, SPHS’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) engaged in their own regional competition.  The students were stunning as they showed their strength in such endeavors as team management, decision making, entrepreneurship, risk management, cyber security, hospitality, public speaking, business math, economics, and more. Over 500 students from fifteen schools competed. The students of SPHS earned a myriad of high-place medals. Again, the students involved represent many parts of campus life.

SPHS journalism students had an opportunity to go to the USC Annenberg School for High School Insider Day.  Thirty-seven schools were represented, and the students attended writing workshops with USC professors, listened to a panel discussion by L.A. Times writers, and had an opportunity to meet professional journalists while touring the Annenberg newsroom.

For the second time in five years, the YMCA’s Youth in Government Youth Governor for the State of California came from South Pasadena High School. This is an elected position, highly coveted, full of responsibility, and not easily achieved.  Lena Gavenas is finishing her term as Governor, and she hosted the Presidents’ weekend “Y in G” convention in Sacramento in which young people take over the capitol and do the legislative work. 

On March 1, over thirty family members of the late SPHS Athletic Director, Ralph Punaro, came to SPHS for a dedication of a bench they purchased in his honor.  The bench is located in front of the choral room.  As the Tiger Patio and other “quad” patios are redesigned, the bench will be a lovely anchor point and a long-time reminder of someone who influenced SPHS life.

Congratulations to the SPHS Girls Basketball team and Coach Tammy Lai for their Rio Hondo League (RHL) championship and for making it to the semi-final round of CIF play.  Congratulations also go out to the Boys Basketball team and Coach David Lutzeier for their RHL championship and for making it to the second round of CIF play.  The Boys Soccer team and Coach Juan Zurita, RHL champions, have reached the CIF Championship game.  At the beginning of the season, the soccer athletes were worried about the track replacement taking them off of their home field and potentially marring their season.  It was clear even then that the venue of play could not trump the heart of the competitors, and they have proven that.

The counselors of SPHS put on a very successful College Night in which students and parents had an opportunity to see the admission process from the college admissions officers’ viewpoint and then learn about a variety of available colleges.

The Band Spaghetti Dinner night was a fun night for the greater South Pasadena community.  The event showcased student musical performances in a festive feasting and fund-raising atmosphere. 

For those who attended the last PTSA Forum, it was a great chance to hear from the District Executive Director of Student Services as he detailed some of the factors that cause stress for teens and some of the steps SPUSD is taking to help students cope with pressures. Thankfully, the very night Dr. Dennis Lefevre made his presentation, the South Pasadena Educational Foundation agreed to fund the program he shared, “Train Your Brain,” a multi-level plan for instituting prevention and intervention models at SPMS and SPHS. 

With their numerous achievements and accolades in academic, arts, and athletics, the students of SPHS continue to exemplify the school motto of Scholarship, Leadership, Strength and Fair Play.