Thumbs down to the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees and Superintendent Michael Hanson for failing to provide a safe learning environment for students, teachers and staff at Fort Miller Middle School. Officials should have intervened when problems became apparent during the 2013-14 school year and triggered a mass exodus of teachers. It is clear that neither the board nor Hanson fully comprehended the discipline challenges ahead at Fort Miller when school boundaries were changed to accommodate the conversion of neighboring Cooper Middle School into an International Baccalaureate Academy.
Thumbs up to David Mas Masumoto and the other thoughtful people who planted forget-me-not seeds at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church on Thursday, a Day of Remembrance for the Japanese-American internment. Masumoto, along with the Holy Trinity Youth Group, Saturday School students, and Sunday School students planted forget-me-not flower seeds in the flower beds of the newly constructed Holy Trinity Church courtyard. By planting the seeds, they honor the Japanese-Americans who endured evacuation and internment. In the spring, these seeds will bloom and commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Following the planting, hundreds attended a concert marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by the Bob Cole Chamber Choir from California State University, Long Beach.
Thumbs up to the community of McFarland in Kern County and the cast and crew of “McFarland USA” for the favorable reception of the new movie starring Kevin Costner. The film is based on the story of the small town’s powerhouse state champion cross-country team under the skilled guidance of Coach Jim White, but the heart of the people in the town and parents of the students provides soul for the film. Many students have received college scholarships and gone on to enjoy successful careers — out of the dream-draining heat of the fields — thanks to the team’s success. We hope to see them all crowded on the stage of next year’s Oscars ceremony.
Thumbs up to College of the Sequoias for regaining full accreditation this month, after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges said that the school was at risk for closure. The accreditation was celebrated at a special assembly in the COS main lecture hall. “We built systems to change the college’s culture,” COS President Stan Carrizosa said. “There’s no looking back.” The college was in such dire shape that the commission put the college on formal “show cause” status and said it had to improve in several areas. Carrizosa had been on the job less than nine months. The commission ordered a long list of improvements, which were tackled by committees of administrators, faculty, staff and students. Congratulations on a dramatic turnaround.
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Thumbs up to the Volunteers of the Year winners in the annual HandsOn Central California competition. A record 128 nominations for exceptional volunteers were received from five Valley counties. The winners are Roberto Couto, college student; Sandy Brown, school; Pelco by Schneider Electric, community partnership program corporate/business; Patricia Nolen, senior; From Quanta to Quasars, service club/organization; Saburo and Marion Masada, lifetime achievement; Zachary Shaath, youth; Tiffany Cooper, AmeriCorps; Michael Adam, love of children; and Juanita Jackson, parent. A ceremony celebrating the winners and nominees will be held April 15, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Clovis Memorial Center.
Thumbs up to Clovis City Council for turning down this week a proposal for a convenience store at the corner of DeWolf and Locan avenues. The property is now rural residential and on the edge of the developed city. Clovis has had the property proposed for housing since approving its Loma Vista Specific Plan more than a decade ago. The council, supporting the Clovis Planning Commission, decided not to divert from its plan.
Thumbs up to Dr. Helda Pinzon-Perez, professor in the Department of Public Health and School of Nursing at Fresno State, for receiving a Fulbright Scholar Teaching and Research Award to study the impact of diabetes in indigenous communities in Peru. This is her second Fulbright. In spring of 2016, Pinzon-Perez will teach courses in health promotion at Cayeteno Heredia Peruvian University. Pinzon-Perez will be joined in Peru by her husband, Dr. Miguel Perez, also a professor in the Department of Public Health at Fresno State and fellow Fulbright awardee. Their four children will join them during the four-month sabbatical. Pinzon-Perez said she chose to study in Peru because the research she obtains will benefit the large Hispanic population in the Central Valley.