Hundreds of residents, students and teachers (current and former), local dignitaries, and well-wishers gathered at Phelan Elementary School on Friday, April 20, to celebrate the school’s 100th Anniversary.
Inside the freshly painted “little red schoolhouse,” the walls were adorned with photographs of students and teachers from the school’s days gone by. Snowline School Board member David Nilson reminisced as he looked at the pictures from his childhood, and earlier. He pointed to a class photo, “I think that’s Kay Howard on the left, and that’s Alfred Nilson, and the Johnsons. This must be one of the McKalister boys, they were rough kids. “When I was here, kids were real tough, but you know, goodhearted.” David’s family was represented at the event by four generations, including his mother Bernice, daughter Jennifer, and grandson Cole, among others.
Above the fireplace mantle hangs a series of plaques, each bearing the name of one of the founding families of Phelan Union School; Nilsen, Howard, Johnson, Mannigel, McDaniel, McCalister, Ison, Rasmussen, Riggins, Mathews, Lovett, Park, and Parks.
Also in the schoolhouse was a display of the contents for a time capsule, to be buried on the campus grounds and opened in 25 years. As the launch of a new tradition, the time capsule’s opening will be repeated every quarter century, when new items representing the era will be included for the next generation to discover. Students in FFA and Agricultural Mechanics built the time apsule.
Among the schoolhouse’s many functions was the Grange Hall, a church, and a place for social gatherings like dances. Snowline Superintendent Dr. Ryan Holman acknowledged the role the building has played as a center of community activity, since it was built in 1948. From after-school meeting place to weekend house of worship, the Phelan Union Schoolhouse holds fond memories for the history-rich area.
Students at the school worked on projects, learning about and honoring the 20th Century. Games like jacks and marbles, music from the WWII era, and early television made fascinating lessons for the curious young pupils.
Barbara Van Houten, a Wrightwood resident who taught at Phelan Elementary in the mid-sixties and returned in 1981 as the music teacher, explained that at that time, there were just 35-45 children in the school. She taught 15 students in her 3rd/4th combination class. “Back then, the whole school fit in one bus. They would take excursions to see the wildflowers in bloom, or drive the road to watch the high-tension lines were being installed.”
During the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, speeches, certificates, and plaques were offered by representatives of Supervisor Lovingood’s office, Superintendent of County Schools, Assemblymen Lackey and Morrell, the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District, and Phelan Chamber of Commerce.
Tony Buckley, a teacher at Phelan Elementary for 25 years and the school principal for the past two years, was ecstatic about the new school bell that hangs under the eaves above the front door of the schoolhouse. He said he was thrilled to find that the bell’s pull cord actually goes through an eye, into the building, making it functional as well as symbolic.
Given the distinction of “Historical Building,” on April 10, by the Snowline Joint Unified School District, the schoolhouse now enters its second century, “History Outside, Future Inside.”
April 19, 2018
Timberline Lions recognize four students
By Vicky Rinek
Thursday, April 19, 2018, Lions members gathered at the Community Building, with families accompanying their children, for the annual Rising Star Awards and Recognition ceremony. The room was filled to capacity with administrators, councilors and teachers, from Serrano High School, Heritage School and Quail Valley Middle School, who came to share their impressions of four students being honored. Counselors and teachers highlighted these exceptional students’ achievements. Each student faced extreme circumstances in their young life and found a way, with the help from Snowline faculty, to rise above their difficulties, to reach their potential, and bring about good grades in their school work.
Bill Swift, Lions member and chair for the Rising Star, spoke a few words before the presentation. He told the crowd that in the past 20 years, this club returned sight to 15,000 people in India through eye surgeries provided by funds from the Timberline Lions Club. “These are the poorest of the poor,” said Bill. Over the years Timberline Lions has provided free exams and eye glassed to hundreds of Snowline students. Bill continued, “Timberline Lions has served the community for 65 years, giving back to the Tri-Community in numerous ways.”
Bill thanked the faculty for coming out on their own time, away from their families, to speak about these students. “The staff at Snowline are dedicated to all their students, they do more than the minimum and actively pursue the success of their students at every level. The faculty works to ensure they will continue to thrive in the future,” said Bill. “To watch these students be recognized for their outstanding achievements is a thrill and heartwarming.”
Neli Aquirre, whose large family was there to support her, was the first to be honored. Heritage counselor Michelle Steinmann said, “Neli, is a good, positive student and an athlete.” When Neli had become ill, complaining of a headache, her parents took her to the doctor’s office, where she experienced a seizure. Tests were done, however Neli was misdiagnosed. She was put on seizure meds and sent home. Her illness got worse so her family took her back to the hospital, where she had a spinal tap and further tests. The lab work found a rare form of encephalitis. Neli remained hospitalize for a few weeks. She was unable to walk or speak, just lying in her bed, with a feeding tube. Her school counselor visited her in the hospital and Neli was able to hold her hand with a light squeeze. The doctors said Neli could get better, but it could take years to return to normal activities.
Neli made a remarkable recovery. After two and a half weeks she made so much progress she was able to go home and receive outpatient care. In December Neli was able to return to school early and made up for her lost time. She is a student who deserves to be recognized for her courage and achievements. Neli’s family and friends were wearing red “Team Neli” shirts giving support, loving her, and encouraging her every step of the way. Steinmann said Neli is one of the strongest persons she knows.
Nadia Martinez, from Serrano High School, was accompanied by her parents, Lorraine and Victor Martinez.
“Nadia has a tough time around crowds and has requested to go home early and has missed school a number of times.” said her councilor Michele Scribner, “She continued to go to school even though it was extremely difficult for her.” Scribner said she has worked remarkably hard these past four years. Nadia is in the show choir and has a beautiful voice; she might even have the opportunity to attend college on a singing scholarship.
Nadia struggled through and made up classes so she is graduating this year. She has taken her standard classes plus additional classes with As and Bs, she has great potential. Nadia has great things in front of her and her future is looking bright.
Quail Valley student Chase Neal had struggled at school ever since the Blue Cut Fire. His older sister, who attended Serrano, passed away from asthma complications from the ash and smoke. The loss of his sister left Chase withdrawn and his school work had suffered. His counselors worked with the family to help Chase. He didn’t want to go to school, and his health was affected. But he overcame, and his personality shined through. Chase would make his way to every office at school to make the staff laugh, something he does with his friends too. This year his academics have greatly improved and emotionally he has persevered too. That is why the school nominated Chase for the Rising Star Award.
Serrano High School senior Tianni Pitts was nominated as the Rising Star for a number of reason. Tianni’s story is one of strength, perseverance, and determination. She has faced extreme hardships that have made her strong and determined.
Tianni wasn’t able to attend the evening’s event but her counselor said we would appreciate her story and understand her decision for not attending.
Tianni came to Serrano this year. She has been in the foster system, repeatedly transferred from one home to another. Serrano is the 6th high school she has attended. “Usually we at Serrano get students from the foster system who are behind academically, which makes it very difficult for them to graduate.” said Michele Scribner, counselor at Serrano High School. “In Tianni’s case she came to Serrano with all her credits. She not only had all our required credits, she also had all the credits needed for college. This is pretty much unheard of for a student in Tianni situation.” Michele said she is an amazing student. “Tianni has learned that what she wants in life does not have to be determined by the path she was handed.” Tianni has worked really hard and learned early on that if she was moving around school to school she needed to find people to connect with that would support her and that’s how she was able to get to where she is. At the second semester the family that she lived with did not want Tianni to live with them anymore, through no fault on the part of Tianni. She was not sure what was going to happen. The foster system found another family that would take her in but they were way out in Hesperia and she just did not want to change schools one more time. She worked with the new family and her social worker and they made arrangements to get her to Serrano. Tianni will be turning 18 and out the foster system before she graduates, so her social worker is taking her in. She advocated herself to make that happen.
Since then she’s been going to Serrano and got a job, as she knew she would have to support herself. She’s completed her college applications and is ready to support herself. She’s also been on a waiting list for an apartment after graduation.
She missed the Rising Start event because she had an opportunity to work the night of the Rising Star and Tianni knew she needed to take the job that would help toward her rent.
The Lions understood and were proud to give the counselor Tianni’s certificate and a check for $100.
The Timberline Lions Club is a service club of people wanting to give back to their community. Three events will be held this May.
On May 12, 2018 the Timberline Lions Club will be offering free health screenings. The Eyemobile unit will be parked at the Cedar Street parking lot at Evergreen and Cedar. The Mobile Health Screening unit is a fully equipped to provide visual acuity, glaucoma, elevated blood pressure and hearing screening free of charge to underserved members of our communities
May 17, 2018 will be the 65th Anniversary of the Timberline Lions Club. The community is invited to celebrate with them at their gathering at the Wrightwood Community Building for a dinner, presentation and a raffle. Come and learn what the Lions Club is all about. Time is 6:30 p.m.
And of course, there will be BINGO on Saturday May 12, doors open at 5:30, first game is 6:00.
Please contact us for more information at (760) 249-3245 and ask for Steve.
April 21, 2018
Assemblymen Obernolte and Lackey discuss accountability and transparency
By Jessica Gonzalez
Accountability and transparency were the two themes highlighted during the Community Coffee meeting held at the Phelan Community Services District on April 21. Assemblymen Tom Lackey (36th District) and Jay Obernolte (33rd District) were on hand to discuss current legislative efforts in Sacramento and respond to residents’ questions. Constituents brought up several issues, including concerns with the installment of internet infrastructure in the area, an unsafe intersection, police entering a home without a warrant, homeschooling, and the fate of AB2611, the Homeowner’s Insurance Right to Appeal Bill.
Before the representatives spoke, Community Services District Vice President Alex Brandon clarified the borders for the two districts. Communities east of Eaby Road are represented by Obernolte; Lackey represents areas west of Eaby Road.
Assemblyman Obernolte opened the meeting by discussing budget concerns and the gas tax increase. Obernolte noted that there is bi-partisan support on the issue of budgetary transparency, which refers to funds being used for their designated purpose. He cited Proposition 56, which passed in 2016 and raised the price on tobacco products. Funds were reportedly earmarked to increase access to healthcare for all Californians. According to Obernolte, after much debate, the money is now split between expanding access to MediCal and the general fund.
Obernolte cited another example of the lack of budgetary transparency; the gas tax. Californians are now paying an additional twelve cents per gallon, and residents are now paying between $25 and $175 more this year to register their vehicles. There was an objection to this increase, according to Obernolte, “on the grounds that the money we were already collecting wasn’t being spent on roads.”
Assemblyman Lackey briefly discussed Propositions 47 and 57 as well as proposed legislation. Lackey expressed concern with the results of Proposition 47, which reduces the penalties for non-violent crimes. He cited statistics that suggested an increase in violent crimes and noted that industries such as retail sales are adversely impacted by this legislation. A “common-sense, modest bill to try to make consequences for those (criminals) who try to organize together,” did not pass the committee. Lackey noted that Proposition 57 was recently ruled by a judge to be so poorly written that early release of sex offenders might be.
Lackey discussed proposed legislation to create a state-wide data base, accessible to those in a position to care for and protect children, e.g. law enforcement and family services, “so that they can make good decisions to protect children.”
Several residents expressed support for Obernolte’s Homeowner’s Right to Appeal Bill (AB2611), would allow homeowners to appeal insurance rate increases that are based on computer-generated fire risk scores. According to Obernolte, insurance companies prefer to use this data rather than send out an inspector, so the results often fail to accurately reflect each home’s fire risk. According to Obernolte, “Insurance companies hate it,” and it did not gain enough support from the Insurance Committee. Rather than let the bill be killed, Obernolte opted to pull it and work to gain more support before allowing it be put to a vote.
Accountability was another talking point during the meeting. One resident brought up the “lack of respect” toward property and roads showed by Race Communications, who is currently laying the infrastructure to install high-speed internet in the area. Assemblyman Obernolte recommended that any issues with the construction should be followed up with the County. The representatives urged another constituent, who reportedly experienced a police raid without any warrant provided, to contact the Sheriff’s commander and initiate the Citizen’s Complaint P
Obernolte expressed agreement with one concerned constituent regarding AB 2756 and AB 2956; many families regard these bills as a threat to their right to homeschool.
Lackey offered support to another resident who pointed out the dangers of the intersection at Duncan and Johnson Roads, where numerous fatal accidents have occurred. Petitions have reportedly been initiated to install a four-way stop. He noted that County Supervisor Robert Lovingood is aware of the issue, encouraged residents to email Lovingood’s office, and offered to help access the proper authorities. Lackey also urged concerned citizens to attend Board of Supervisors meetings regarding this matter, and “hold them accountable.”
Proactive Patrol Operation, Wrightwood
On Friday, April 13, 2018, from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., deputies from the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station along with officers from the San Bernardino County Probation Dept. conducted a Proactive Patrol Operation in Wrightwood. The goal of the operation was to attempt to locate and arrest several subjects with outstanding arrest warrants as well as contacting subjects on probation at their homes and ensuring they are in compliance with the terms and conditions of their probation. During the course of the operation, 3 subjects were arrested for outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants and 1 subject was arrested for violation of probation.
Suspects: Treloar, Jacob 33-year-old male resident of Wrightwood Bottorff, Terry 67-year-old male, resident of Wrightwood Halpin, Peter 58-year-old male, resident of Wrightwood Jiminez, Lainee Nicole 31-year-old-female of Palm Springs
This operation is part of the Sheriff’s Department’s ongoing efforts to ensure safety in the communities it serves. Similar operations of this type are planned in the future in other communities served by the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station.
April 10, 2018
District Board recognizes history students and cheer team
By Donna Alvarez
Snowline Joint Unified School District board room was filled with students who were recognized for their recent achievements in competitions in National History Day and Cheerleading. Students who participated in the National History Day Competition achieved the status of moving on to the State Level of Competition. The theme for this year was “Conflict and Compromise.” Students submitted projects in three areas:.... Various subjects covered were “Agent Orange,” “Space Race - Sputnik,” “Space Program for Women” among other topics. Each student received a Certificate of Achievement Award from the school board.
Quail Valley Middle School Cheer Team, coached by Miss Simmons, presented a cheer to the board. Their routine was enthusiastic and precise, perfect for their usual award winning performances. The team competed in a high school competitions receiving high recognition. The girls felt that participating in cheer helped them to grow as individuals, helped them to be better people, to become positive in their actions, to be more open with their personalities, and helped them to develop as leaders. Over all the girls stated that the cheer team was like a second family. Their coach stated that these girls are true athletes and also that the girls maintain a 4.0 grade point average.
During the public comments one teacher stated various concerns that she has: some of which are regarding adequately communicating with parents in a timely manner, maintaining her full implementation and alignment of the California State Standards used for her classes, her worry over being shot while acting as a human shield for students during an active shooter event, and being “bashed” by social media. Others in the audience agreed with her concerns. Echoing the last sentiment, Board Member David Nilsen stated how hateful social media can be and that we need to include the Snowline’s PBIS approach (discussed in this article) to include social media. Superintendent Dr. Ryan Holman furthered the discussion by stating that we need to teach students, and parents, the appropriate use of social media.
The Dean of Students at Quail Valley Middle School, Mr. Joe Bennett, explained the success of the Behavioral Coaches on his campus. The school has implemented Tier one and are now implementing Tiers two and three. These coaches connect with students struggling with behavioral issues. The students are taught the tools necessary to deal with conflicts in their lives in constructive manners. Each coach has four to six students. The coach helps the students to understand why they may be reacting in a certain way and how to set positive behavioral goals helping change their negative responses into positive actions and choices. Bennet stated that the program has to be flexible in order to work through the many layers of reasons why a student is responding in a negative way. He further stated that the reasons that the students may have problems is that the adults in their lives have failed them. This might include parents, teachers, coaches, and other staff.
Bennett stated that the Behavioral Coaches are all connected to PBIS which is the Positive Behavioral Intervention Support for students. According to his report, it is “A school wide culture of providing a positive, safe, predictable nurturing learning environment for all students.” He stated that PBIS DOES NOT have the following three aspects: PBIS does NOT lower behavioral expectations of students; does NOT allow inappropriate behavior to go unaddressed; and it is NOT all rewards and no consequences. Positive behavior supports include three tiers, according to Bennett: 1) Primary Prevention Tier I (which would apply to 80% of the students) deals with school-classroom-wide systems for all students, staff, and settings; 2) Secondary Prevention Tier II (applying to 15% of the students) deals with specialized groups and systems for students with at-risk behavior; 3) Tertiary Prevention Tier III (applying to 5% of the students) deals with specialized and individualized groups of students with systems developed for those students that are high-risk. The Behavioral Coaches using the PBIS concepts work collaboratively with staff and students to set up specific behavioral expectations meeting various students needs such as: helping to teach students those expectations; helping students to recognize success when they meet those expectations; and, lastly, providing interventions needed when students display behavioral errors. The staffs of the various schools in the Snowline District will be in-serviced to practice these PBIS concepts in the classrooms and on the campus. One parent in the audience stated that such workshops regarding PBIS should be made available for the parents and families. Holman stated that such an approach would be very beneficial and something that needs to be implemented.
During board comments the board of directors praised the painting of the the Little Red School House at Phelan Elementary School. It is being prepared for its Centennial Celebration, Friday, April 29th 2018. A bronze plaque will be placed at the site honoring the original families that first attended the elementary school. Not many districts have such a history. Other praises, by the board of trustees, were for the recent district chorale and band performances and the addition of Art to the STEM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). With Art as an addition the program is now called STEAM.
Holman gave praise to students who have come to the board expressing their views on serious subjects. He stated, “When you ask students to engage in dialogue, they will exceed our expectations. Students have helped bring forth ideas (to SJUSD) for safety.”
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961