Archive for July 18, 2013

Poets looking toward bright future with new aquatic center

Whittier College’s Lillian Slade Aquatics Center opened in February 2012 as part of a $9 million renovation project of the Graham Athletic Center.


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By Eric Terrazas

Sports Editor

WHITTIER – A scorching summer is well under way and one area pool that is attracting its share of attention is Whittier College’s Lillian Slade Aquatics Center.

The facility, which opened in February 2012 as part of a $9 million renovation project of the Graham Athletic Center, is the home of the college’s water polo, swimming and diving teams. The aquatics center also hosts programs that serve the community, including an annual summer camp.

The center features a larger pool, which measures at 43 meters by 25 yards, seating for 500 spectators, a four-color video display scoreboard, five banks of lighting, locker rooms for the Poet men’s and women’s teams, and administrative offices.

In addition to the pool, the expanded Graham Athletic Center also features a welcome center and a Hall of Fame conference room.

Whittier College Aquatics Director Justin Pudwill, who coaches both the men’s and women’s water polo teams, believes the year-old facility will help the Poets attract more talent. During the 2012-13 season, both the Poet men and women took third place in the SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). The Poet men finished 11-20 overall and 6-5 in the SCIAC while the women turned in a record of 17-19 and 7-4.

“We have one of the nicest pools in our conference,” Pudwill said. “It’s very fan-friendly, which is cool. It definitely helps out our recruiting. I think our student body will enjoy it.

“We were on the road for two years – that’s when construction was happening. Last year was our first full year. Both our men and women finished third (last season). We’re hoping to do better this year.”

According to Pudwill, the center also hosts a “series of summer camps that run from the middle of June to the first week of August.”

One such session is the annual summer swim club, which started June 10 and will conclude on Aug. 4. The club runs from 2 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. The cost was $90 for individuals, $180 for families up to five members, and $200 for families with more than five members. For afternoon only, the fee is $250.

For information on the Lillian Slade Aquatics Center, call 562-907-4271 or visit



Plymouth Church in need of donations

The Plymouth Church family is in need of the items listed below.
Please bring those items to church no later than this Sunday, July 21, 2013

6 large bags of mini marshmallows
4 large blocks of mild cheddar cheese
6 large containers of regular or blueberry cream cheese
16 bags of croutons
3 packages of craft single slices of cheese, 50 count or more
20 bags of plain bagels, 8 -10 count
10 large containers of blueberries
10 large containers of raspberries
4 large containers of raisins
14 loaves of white bread
12 containers of non-dairy whipped topping
12 cantaloupes
10 large containers of grapes
5 blocks of ham
3 bags of plastic cups, 100 count or more

The church also needs volunteers on Sunday after church and Monday morning, July 22, to help set up the main scenery in the fellowship hall and the amphitheater.

John Kerry’s big lie spans decades

By Alex Ferguson
On April 23, 2013, the L.A. Times printed an op-ed column by Johah Goldberg titled, “Right Wing’ Doesn’t Equal ‘Terrorist.’” Startling as this title was, it didn’t begin to compare to one of his closing sentences which alleged that, “Secretary of State John Kerry belonged to a group – Vietnam Veterans against the war – that once discussed assassinating American politicians.”
Notice that he said “group,” not “peace group.” Check the videos of those long-ago anti-war demonstrations and you may notice a faction waving Vietcong Communist flags; that would be the VVAW. Far from being for peace, they were a Maoist revolutionary cadre dedicated to bringing the war home to the streets of America.
John Kerry was a founding leader of this murderous band of degenerate traitors. His second in command was Black Panther Al Hubbard, a former Air Force sergeant who claimed to have been a captain and to have been wounded flying a mission over Vietnam. Like many of the so-called witnesses.
In Jane Fonda’s infamous “Winter Soldier” propaganda orgy, Hubbard was a complete fraud. He had never been to Vietnam, and he had never been wounded.
Of course John Kerry was the biggest liar of all. He lied to Congress about his personal knowledge of war crimes, about the supposedly disproportionate casualty rate among African American soldiers, about U.S. troops ignoring the humanity of the Vietnamese people because they were “Orientals,” about the alleged “falsification” of body counts and so forth and so on.
Why not? He had previously lied about his “wounds” and the exploits that supposedly caused them.
And that takes us back to the Kansas City steering committee meetings of Nov. 12-15, 1971, at which the VVAW voted on whether to kill pro-war American politicians, or to kidnap them and use them to extract concessions from the government.
Naturally, John Kerry lied about his participation in these diabolic deliberations, but author Gerald Nicosia located several witnesses who saw him there and unearthed pertinent FBI archives that ended all doubt.
Somewhat sympathetic toward Kerry and his activities, and being a man of integrity, Nicosia notified Kerry’s camp of the impending release of his discoveries. He even supplied a Kerry campaign messenger with copies.
“And then, on March 25, approximately 4,000 of the FBI documents – perhaps hundreds of them on Kerry himself, in folders that I had already bookmarked – were stolen from my home; a burglary that remains unsolved, but about which I have my own suspicions, and which I definitely believe to have been politically motivated.”
Remember back when Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of “palling around” with terrorists?
Apparently, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright so eloquently put it, “The chickens have come home to roost.”
Alex Ferguson is a longtime Whittier resident.

This week’s homily by the Rev. Thomas M. Boles, Ph.D.

Several centuries ago, the Emperor of Japan commissioned a Japanese artist to paint a particular species of bird for him.
Months passed, then years. Finally, the Emperor went personally to the artist’s studio to ask for an explanation.
The artist set a blank canvas on the easel and within 15 minutes, had completed a painting of a bird. It was a masterpiece!
The Emperor, admiring both the painting and the artist’s great skill, asked why there had been such a long delay.
The artist then went from cabinet to cabinet in his studio. He pulled from it armloads of drawings of feathers, tendons, wings, feet, claws, eyes, beaks; virtually every aspect of a bird, from virtually every angle.
He placed these silently before the Emperor, who nodded in understanding. The magnificence of any “whole” can never be greater than the magnificence of any singular detail.
To have an excellent life, strive for an excellent year. Within that year, strive for an excellent month, and within that month, strive for an excellent day.
Within the day, strive for an excellent hour. An excellent life is the sum of many excellent moments!
Thou hast been faithful over a few things,
I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord.
Matthew 25:21

Whatever it takes

Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson addresses the Whittier Sunrise Rotary Club on June 18, 2013.

Whittier native Thorstenson delivers poignant schools update

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By Tim Traeger
WHITTIER – Whatever it takes.
That’s the mantra aptly delivered recently before about 25 members of the Whittier Sunrise Rotary Club at Friendly Hills Country Club.
Sandra Thorstenson, superintendent of the Whittier Union High School District, is the ultimate care-taker for five high schools, an adult school and literally thousands of students, teachers and staff in Whittier. She knows what is needed for students to succeed in a constantly changing world climate under stringent state guidelines while high-wiring under economic tightropes.
In the Whittier native’s message to Rotarians, she said the single biggest impediment to classroom success these days is that her instructors are forced to “teach to the test” under guidelines set forth by “No Child Left Behind” legislation.
“There were some really good things about ‘No Child Left Behind.’ There were some really horrible things about ‘No Child Left Behind,’” Thorstenson said on June 18, 2013.
“The whole teaching to the test thing, it is miserable. There is too much testing. It’s overkill. Accountability is important, and we believe in it and embrace accountability, but it’s overkill. When you think about the number of days the kids are actually testing and how much instruction they’re losing out on, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
However the 12-year superintendant said there is hope, with pain.
“There are a group of districts in the state called CORE that have an application to waive ‘No Child Left Behind’ because it really is a huge waste of money right now. School districts can fall into PI, Program Improvement, because special-ed kids don’t meet the bar. You’re not going to be able to do that. Not every kid is going to be able to be above average. It’s statistically impossible. In the beginning, everyone was able to get over the bar. But every year the bar keeps growing higher, faster and faster.”
Thorstenson, who attended Bell Elementary, Dexter Junior High, Whittier High School and Whittier College, has been living in Whittier since she was 5. The former Sandy Sanchez has seen education morph over a successive career spanning decades with stints at Pioneer, Cal and Santa Fe high schools.
“I am a home-grown Whittierite,” she said.
“So you can’t have every single kid jump the same high bar. If you have a kid who’s disabled and you want them to jump over the same bar as a star athlete, it’s just not going to happen.
“So you have to put all this money into paying for things that are ridiculous and a waste of money. As miserable as ‘No Child Left Behind’ is now, the concept makes sense. But the devil is in the details and this is not serving the kids well now.
“New common CORE state standards are coming in. They are absolutely wonderful. Forty-five states have signed onto it. It’s going to be tough. Kids’ scores across the whole 45 states are going to drop. But that’s OK because test scores are not what matter most. Kids growing and learning and being better prepared for their future is what matters most.”
One might say the “CORE” of her message was enthusiastic hope.
“We’re going to have more kids ready for college and more kids ready for careers because the common CORE is so much better than what we have with ‘No Child Left Behind.’ Common CORE requires kids to think much more critically. To really analyze and interpret. To be able to apply their learning to lots of real-world applications. Right now there is too much testing and there’s too much having to memorize. Kids are not going to be able to use that in the future.
“Under common CORE, our test scores are going to drop. But it’s OK. As long as our kids continue to grow and they’re better prepared, that’s what matters most.”
Thorstenson’s district is the second largest employer in Whittier behind PIH Health, formerly known at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital. The district employs 1,500 people, 1,200 of them full-time.
“Our demographics over time have really changed tremendously. My last name is Thorstenson but I’m not Norwegian. I happened to fall in love with a Norwegian boy a long time ago. I am 100 percent Hispanic. Our neighborhood was not very affluent. But what really mattered is we had a strong upbringing and very strong faith. And that’s what a lot of kids don’t have. Even if they do live in Friendly Hills, they might not have that tight family structure. It really doesn’t matter what the demographics are, if they have one healthy parent who is really committed to them, they’re going to be fine.
“But there are some kids who don’t have that. Our job, our purpose, is to ensure we make up for that. Some kids have huge opportunity gaps. We are working really, really hard to reduce those gaps. We are blessed in our district with the most amazing community with people like you, who are so service-oriented. We have all these churches, all these service clubs, we have all these non-profits.
“When I talk to my colleagues and I tell them about this interdependence we have in this community and how that really serves our kids, they marvel at that. Because it’s very unusual. I think that’s the reason we’ve been able to be so successful,” she said.
U.S. News & World Report has listed the WUHSD in the top school districts in the nation, doling out gold, silver and bronze metals. More than 4,000 school representatives from across the nation and the globe have visited to try and emulate its successes.
“You can’t just try to replicate this. It starts with the culture, the foundation. Make sure you have people who are collaborative, who share best-practices, who believe in kids,” Thorstenson said. “You’ve got to have quality staff. And to get the best staff, you have to offer competitive salaries. The third leg of the stool is you have to have a helpful, respectful culture. The (school) board, the administration and the employee administrations all work together. The results are seen in the kids’ achievement.”
Despite a disproportionate number of current students floating under the poverty line, Thorstenson said, “Everybody’s going to start at a different level. We don’t expect our brand-new teachers to be at the same level our more experienced teachers are. But we also want to see the same passion from both ends of the spectrum. We want to see the same commitment to continual growth.”
Tim Traeger is a Whittier resident and former editor of the Whittier Daily News. Write to him at, call 626-646-7352 or Tweet to

Whittier sports briefs for July 9, 2013

‘Titan-ic’ golf tournament

Pioneer High’s football program is presenting its second annual golf tournament, which is slated for an 11 a.m. start on Friday, July 19, at Montebello Golf Course, 901 Via San Clemente in Montebello.

Dinner will also be offered. The cost is $125 per person with $40 for dinner only.

The event will feature raffles, closest-to-the-pin and longest-drive contests, silent and live auctions, and a Par 3 challenge.

To register, call 562-698-8121, Ext. 5425 or e-mail at All proceeds go to support the Pioneer Titan football program.

Swimming at Whittier College

Whittier College, 13406 Philadelphia St. in Whittier, offers open pool hours from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Lillian Slade Aquatics Center located on campus.

For information, visit

Lil All Stars Basketball

The Lil All Stars Basketball program will give youngsters an opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals, rules and organization of basketball.

Classes are scheduled Saturdays from Aug. 3 to 24 at the Whittier Community Center, 7630 Washington Ave.

Children ages 3 to 4 can sign up for either the 8:30 or 9:20 a.m. class while youngsters ages 4 to 6 can register for either the 10:10 or 11 a.m. session.

Parents must remain in the gym for the entire duration of class. Participants must bring a basketball.

The fee is $50 for residents and $55 for nonresidents.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Adult softball

Whittier Adult Softball offers men’s and coed leagues this summer.

Open registration is under way and will be accepted until 4 p.m. Friday, July 19.

Play will start on Wednesday, July 31. Leagues will play at York Field, 9119 Santa Fe Springs Road. A fee of $490 includes games, balls and awards.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Beginning skateboarding

Children ages 6 to 17 can register for a beginning skateboarding program offered by the city of Whittier.

The five-class session will run Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Aug. 10 to Sept. 7, at Whittier Community Center, 7630 Washington Ave.

The fee is $107 for residents and $122 for nonresidents. Students must wear a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and bring their own skateboard.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Summer swim lessons

The city of Whittier offers summer swimming lessons at both Palm Park, 5703 Palm Ave., and La Serna High School, 15301 Youngwood Drive.

Registration is under way for any open session. It is recommended that participants sign up at either the Palm Park pool or La Serna pool.

The city’s swimming lessons are based on the American Red Cross LEARN TO SWIM program. It teaches aquatic and safety skills in a logical progression.

For class schedules and more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Take a dive at Palm Park

Two more diving class sessions, open to children ages 5 to 17, are scheduled for Palm Park.

The next Monday through Friday class is slated from July 15 to 25. Another session is scheduled from July 29 to Aug. 8. The fee is $47 and the resident discount fee is $42.

For class schedules and more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Recreational swim

Palm Park offers recreational swimming until Aug. 25. Recreational swimming will also be offered on Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and 2.

The program is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The fee is $2. No swimming is slated for Aug. 16, 20 and 23.

An adult must accompany any child under age 7.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Family fitness and health

The city of Whittier will offer a family fitness and health class this summer.

Parents can bring their son or daughter to work out together for a healthier and better lifestyle. There will be different options available for adults and kids. The same parent and child partners must attend. Children must be at least 8 years old.

One more session is scheduled from Aug. 14 to Sept. 11 at the Whittier Community Center, 7630 Washington Ave.

The fee is $35 for residents and $40 for nonresidents.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Beginning gymnastics

This program, open to ages 8 to 18, includes warm-up exercises for conditioning and flexibility, as well as floor exercises and balance beam work. Instruction also will be given on other apparatus, including mini-trampoline, bars, vault and tumbling.

The Tuesday session is slated from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m. Aug. 6 to Sept. 10 the at Parnell Park Activity Center, 15390 Lambert Road. The fee is $59.

For more information, call 562-567-9430 or visit

Schmischke takes reins at Soroptimist Club

On July 1, 2013, Soroptimist International of Whittier outgoing club President Kathy Dowling (Remax Community Realty/Escrow) officially handed over her duties to incoming President Petra Schmischke (Friendly Hills Bank).
Schmischke will be president for the 2013-2014 year and represent SIW at the local, national and international levels. Her first official luncheon meeting will be at noon on July 9, 2013, at the Radisson Hotel Whittier, 7320 Greenleaf Ave.,
Everyone is welcome. The cost is $15 per person.
“As President of Soroptimist International of Whittier I want to continue our efforts to improve the lives of women and girls in our communities,” Schmischke said. “Our club and its 60 members work tirelessly to raise money in order to make a difference.  Through programs like the Women’s Opportunity Award, Scholarships, Lois Neece and Violet Richardson Awards and our own Women in Need program we are able to support individuals and organizations locally and around the world. I look forward to an exciting and successful year.”

For more information call Caren Grisham at 562-400-6955.

Kids test football skills at Pioneer camp

Pioneer High School coach Chuck Willig speaks to participants during the Titan Youth Instructional Camp, which was held Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 at the Sierra Education Center.

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By Eric Terrazas

WHITTIER — About 130 youngsters looking to improve their football skills took part in this year’s Titan Youth Instructional Camp on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, 2013 at the Sierra Education Center.
The event marked the second year of Pioneer High School’s youth football camp, which was open to children ages 7 to 14.
The camp gave kids an opportunity to participate in drills such as speed and agility training, along with position training.
Chuck Willig, who is entering his second season as Pioneer’s head coach, helped organize the event.
“It’s nice to see our kids coach the little kids,”? Willig said. “?Our coaches work with the older kids. Playing football is a lot of fun when everybody is excited to be here. That’s the fun part.?”
Three of the children who tested their football prowess included the Hala brothers that include Touanga, 11, Sione, 10, and Rodney, 9.
“They put you in certain spots to find out what you’re good at,”? Touanga said. “?They put you into different groups and work on your basic mechanics, and how you can improve.,” Sione said, “?It gives us a chance to workout and improve.?”
Rodney added, “?I’m going to like the one-on-one (drills). It’s fun.?”
Two of Willig’s younger brothers, Matt and Greg, also served as camp instructors. All three were star football players at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs. Matt, who played collegiately at USC, went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL that included stints with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers.
Matt Willig spoke to the young participants during a break from workouts. The former Trojan offensive lineman stressed the importance of academics among other things during his speech.
“?You’ve got to be good kids in the classroom,”? Matt Willig said. “?If you want to do something, hold on to that dream. Tell yourself you can because you can do it.?”
This year’s camp took place at Sierra because construction will soon begin on Pioneer’s new football stadium, which is scheduled to be completed for the 2014 season. According to Pioneer’s football website at, the new stadium will feature a state-of-the-art synthetic turf field, all-weather track, two-tier bleachers on the home side, locker rooms, weightroom, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and a press box.
Chuck Willig said that putting together the camp takes a team effort.
“It’s fun for everybody,”? he said. “?Being able to have my brothers here is fantastic as well. It’s a family atmosphere. A lot of parents put in a lot of time in this. The parents do such an amazing job.?”

This week’s homily by the Rev. Thomas M. Boles, Ph.D.

While doing research for a doctoral thesis, a young man spent a year with a group of Navajo Indians on a reservation in the Southwest. He lived with one family, sleeping in their hut, eating their food, working with them, and generally living their life.
The grandmother of the family spoke no English, yet a very close friendship formed between the grandmother and the doctoral student. They seemed to share the common language of love and they intuitively understood each other.
Over the months he learned a few phrases of Navajo, and she picked up words and phrases in English.
When it was time for the young man to return to the university and write his thesis, the tribe held a going-away celebration for him. It was marked by sadness since he had developed a close relationship with all those in the village. As he prepared to get into his pickup truck and drive away, the old grandmother came to tell him goodbye.
With tears streaming from her eyes, she placed her hands on either side of his face, looked directly into his eyes, and said, “I like me best when I’m with you.”
True friendship is letting those around you not only “be themselves” but “be their people” by knowing what you are by what they see, not by what they hear.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16