Placer High Leaders Show the Right Stuff

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 15, 2009

Class efforts make life better for fire survivors

At the beginning of the year John Adams asked his students to dedicate themselves to the greater good.

In the wake of the 49 Fire, they did just that. Adams’ Placer High leadership class stepped up to help their community, proving themselves equal to the challenge.

The class collected about $3,500 for fire victims at a fundraiser on Sept. 8, according to class treasurer Brigitte Creencia. The evening’s festivities included a battle of the bands, a barbecue and a volleyball game that pitted superhero-costumed teachers against the girls volleyball team. Adams said donations are still coming in.

Immediately after the fire the class set to work making a plan to help victims. The students determined the names of their classmates who’d lost their homes in the fire before the front office did, and spent the day calling local restaurants seeking gift cards to ensure the fire victims wouldn’t go without lunch. The class raised about $850 in gift cards and collected clothes for the students affected by the fire, Adams said. He estimated that overall they’d raised about $5,000 for fire victims.

Adams says his students are currently involved in another project to provide long-term emotional support to the fire victims at Placer High. The class put out a call to students and their families to donate copies of photos they have of the students who lost their own pictures in the fire. Leadership students will compile photo albums for those kids, preserving memories they thought they’d lost.

In addition to fire fundraising, the students in the first-term leadership class have had a lot of projects to keep them busy.

“We kind of just run everything,” said junior Richelle Rock.

Junior Riley Stoltenburg said she and some other juniors recently formed a committee to help welcome new students to Placer High. They also mentioned the class’s involvement with the “smoothie crew,” where leadership students aid the special education classes in collecting money for smoothies they make and sell in classrooms on campus.

At the moment, the major focus is homecoming week. On Monday the class voted to choose a theme and spirit days. Adams, who is new to the leadership class this year, said he was surprised by the extent to which the students were involved on campus.

“What I was amazed at was how much they do that I never knew about,” he said.

He emphasizes three steps with the students in their projects: big goals and small steps, make their day, and finish strong. Adams hopes these guidelines will teach the kids to produce successful projects that have a positive impact on each student at Placer High, and to work with others. For example, he said, the class “finished strong” at the rally last Friday by doing a thorough job cleaning up afterward, so they wouldn’t be a burden to the janitors.

As for the students themselves, they appreciate the opportunity to have a part in running the school. “It’s fun being able to make decisions and have a say in what’s going on,” said senior Elizabeth Keim.

Originally published in print and online The Auburn Journal

Indulge Urge to Tidy During River Cleanup Day

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 16, 2009

On the list of things you don’t want to share your local river with, soiled diapers rank pretty high.

Unfortunately, diapers are just one of the many kinds of refuse that litter the shores of the American River. Fortunately, you can do something about it this weekend.

On Saturday Auburn’s Protect American River Canyons, sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Great Sierra River Cleanup, will kick off the 25th biannual American River Cleanup. Starting at 8 a.m., PARC officials and volunteers will begin collecting river litter. They’ll pick up everything from smashed computers and TVs to beer bottles and foam cups.

This year there will also be a Canyon Keeper-led interpretive hike on the historic bridges and natural history of the Confluence Area.

If you’re interested in volunteering, check in at the PARC info booth at the confluence area on Saturday to register and receive a trash bag, supplies and a map.

Eric Peach, PARC conservation chairman, said there are several reasons the cleanup is so important.

“With the tight budget we need to take more responsibility for our local parks,” Peach said. “This is one easy way for people to help…”

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Ball Sponsorship Has its Benefits

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 23, 2009

As Auburn residents shop to gear up for a great party, local businesses reap the rewards of sponsoring the Black & White Ball.

Heading into the final week before the event, the ball’s Web site lists over 60 different sponsors, many of them stores located in Auburn.

Several business owners say that the publicity they receive as sponsors is second to simply supporting the Auburn Chamber of Commerce in their reasons to fund the ball.

Michelle Strange, branch manager at the Auburn Citizens Bank, said that backing the chamber was important in their decision to donate.

“We’re a community bank, and the chamber is so important to the community, they help with so many other events,” she said.

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School Dress Codes Wear Well Locally

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 9, 2009

For many young people today, when it comes to clothes, less fabric is more fashionable.

Teachers and administrators have been battling rising hemlines and sagging pants for the past several years, and the resulting ever-changing dress codes have left students and their parents wondering, what is appropriate to wear to school?

Locally, dress codes haven’t been too much of a problem, for students or the administration.

According to David Horsey, Placer Union High School District superintendent, students at area high schools have generally adhered to dress codes, which has allowed for somewhat lenient rules.

“Dress codes really have not been a hard issue for us,” Horsey said. “Our students are pretty respectful of the dress codes…”

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Artist Creates Work Reflecting Her Heritage

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 20, 2009

Patricia Bradley’s sculptures on display in Old Town

Patricia Bradley’s art started as a hobby, but creating sculptures inspired by her heritage has quickly grown into a career for the Auburn resident.

Bradley began taking lessons at local studios. Soon after, her work was featured in the Auburn Artwalk. All proceeds were intended to benefit “HEART” (Health Education Africa Resource Team), a local organization dedicated to improving health and welfare in Africa.

“Sadly, I literally had not one sale,” Bradley said.

However, she was still determined to help. Over the course of two mission trips to Africa, Bradley helped thousands of Africans battle malaria. What she saw and experienced in Africa had an impact on her artwork as well.

“My work had taken on a tribal feel,” she said.

Bradley was encouraged by her niece, a fellow artist whose work focused on the family’s Native American heritage and works on the Tesuque reservation in Santa Fe, to get more involved with art and her heritage. Bolstered by their support, Bradley sent slides of her work to Santa Fe’s “Indian Market,” a juried art show and one of the largest events showcasing Native American art in the world.

“I was accepted, and off to Santa Fe and a sold-out show,” Bradley said. She just recently returned from her second year at the Indian Market, and already has her pieces for sale in several galleries.

“I am now showing in the Convergence Gallery on the plaza in Santa Fe, N.M.,” she said. “Every Native American artist’s dream.”

Bradley’s pieces are also on display in Lovett’s Gallery in Tulsa, Okla., and at the OZ Gallery here in Auburn. She uses a variety of mediums, including wax casting to create masks.

The masks and small sculptures on display now are part of a series entitles “Two Little Indian Girls.” Bradley says she has a studio in her Auburn home where she creates her pieces. She sells them in “triptychs,” sets of three.

Bradley said her recent work is “more Native American, more fantasy” inspired than her previous art. This focus on her heritage as a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is explained in a statement printed on fliers advertising her shows:

“I come from the lost generations of Native Americans. My father was part of the Native American Indian Assimilation Act. He was a proud member of the Ojibwa Nation but sadly he was removed from his family and homelands at an early age. He also got lost … Despite times of sadness we were a people of great joy and pride.”

Visit the OZ Gallery on Sacramento Street in Auburn to view or purchase Bradley’s work.


Raising 4-H, FFA Critters Builds Values

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 10, 2009

Placer County 4-H club and Future Farmers of America members are in the final days of preparation before their animals are auctioned off at the Gold Country Fair on Saturday.

Livestock arrived at the fairgrounds throughout the day on Wednesday, where months of hard work will continue, said June Stewart, Placer County 4-H program representative.

Chloe Romero of Foresthill and Evelyn Thais, both FFA members, were at the fairgrounds Wednesday getting their pigs settled in pens. Romero has been in the agriculture education program for five years, while Thais is going into her fourth. The girls are looking forward to participating in the various competitions with their animals.

“We like showmanship best, because you get an opportunity to show how hard you’ve worked,” Romero said…

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Fair Indulges Twisted Food Tastes

Published in print and online in The Auburn Journal September 10, 2009

If you’re going to the Gold Country Fair this weekend you can choose from a variety of traditional fair foods. But if you have a taste for the bizarre, Jack Crawley has the snack for you.

The “Twister Dog” and the accompanying “Tornado Potato” are certainly a feast for the eyes. Crawley promised the hot dog, which is wrapped in a spiral of potato and deep-fried, tastes as good as it looks.

“I’ve eaten a million of them and I still think they’re great,” he said.

Crawley will also be selling the Tornado Potato, a potato spiral sans meat, and sweet potato fries. He offers a wide variety of seasonings in case you find a coiled potato on a stick too mundane. You can sprinkle your treat with everything from apple cinnamon powder to barbecue flavoring…

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Ball earns mixed reviews

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal September 3, 2009

Many prefer Downtown setting

Though the Auburn Chamber of Commerce is counting this year’s Black & White Ball as a success, some attendees say it was not the party they remember from years past.

Saturday night’s ball was moved from its traditional Downtown location to the Gold Country Fairgrounds, which left many Auburn residents feeling like they’d paid $70 to go to the fair.

Nell Curran, co-owner and manager of Bootleggers Old Town Tavern & Grill, said that though they enjoyed serving food at the Ball, she has heard some complaints.

“People felt it wasn’t as upscale as last year, they felt it had more of a fair feeling,” she said on Thursday…

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Reinvestment Act Pays Students to Renovate Chana High Garden

Published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 3, 2009

$21,500 grant covered fencing, greenhouse update, trail clearing

Over the past couple of months, several Chana High School students were given an outdoor alternative to the typical summer job.

Chana was awarded a $21,500 grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the school’s special education program used to refurbish a garden, and to hire students to do it.

“There were students there that have never had anything new, and listening to them get their paychecks and get excited about buying a new pair of shoes… it was really exciting seeing that, and sharing their excitement,” said Jeff Moore, Chana High School special education teacher. “That was the highlight for me.”

Sharon Williams of the Golden Sierra Job Training Agency acted as the liaison between the grant and the Placer Union High School District.

She explained that in order to qualify for employment paid by the grant, students had to have a low-income, disability, or other circumstances that might make it difficult for them to find a job. The students were paid minimum wage and supervised by Chana High teachers in rebuilding a greenhouse, re-fencing the garden, and clearing a trail to a picnic area and volleyball court.

Don Joye, project organizer and garden class teacher, was one of several Chana teachers who devoted their time this summer to working with the students. He looks forward to continuing the progress made over the summer with the agriculture program into the school year, and plans to add goats and lambs to their farm area.

Joye hopes the students will be able to expand their agricultural education to include working with the animals and learning about their care and use. Chana is one of a few Auburn-area schools that have student gardens and agriculture classes to educate students about farming and growing their own food.

Those who farm for a living in Placer County are often vocal about supporting agricultural education in schools.

“School gardens and school farms are an excellent way for students to learn about where their food comes from, to and gain some respect for local farmers,” said Karen Killebrew, president of PlacerGrown, when asked about the project.

Of the five students who stuck it out for the entire six weeks, Samual Perry and Brent Freeman will be returning to Chana in the fall to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Among them is a beach volleyball court, which teacher Tad Eichman and the students stumbled across while clearing the area of debris. Eichman, who has worked at the school for 11 years, said he had no idea the court was there, but it has made a great addition to the picnic area.

Teachers noticed the students seemed to take pride in their work.

“It was a great thing for the students to be involved in,” Eichman said. “They really enjoyed being outside, and working in the garden reached the students in ways school sometimes can’t.”

Chana educators agreed that project organizer Joye was a key player in making the project successful.

“It really touched the students to make that connection, to have an inspiration,” said Randi Sindt, special education teacher. “A lot of the boys looked up to Don.”

It was “extremely gratifying”to see the program he had been advocating for years receive funding and have an impact on his students, Joy said.

He credits the project’s success to students Greg Cecil, Adam Donaldson, Zach Boorinakis, Samual Perry and Brent Freeman, and their hard work.

“It rejuvenated the entire agricultural education program,” Eichman said. “When school starts again in August, I think the students will be pleased and surprised with what we’ve started.”

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal.

Dads Get Special Day in August, Too

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 23, 2009

Dads see special day in August, too - Aug. 24 copy

Though June has passed, the Auburn community isn’t finished celebrating Father’s Day.

On Friday, residents gathered at The Arts Building to recognize local fathers and raise funds for Golden Sierra Life Skills, an Auburn nonprofit corporation devoted to teaching parents and children to maintain a healthy family lifestyle.

Many of the group’s programs focus on male involvement in childrearing, making the 100th anniversary of the recognition of Father’s Day the perfect opportunity for a fundraiser.

Tom Grayson, founder and executive director of Golden Sierra Life Skills, explained that the event was held in August because June and July were busy months for Auburn. They decided to postpone their Father’s Day to ensure that the fundraiser would get the community’s full attention…

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Relay Fights Cancer

Originally published in print and online at The Auburn Journal August 13, 2009

Julia Wallace has a motto for the fight against cancer: “There is no finish line until we find a cure.”

She and her team will start walking on Saturday for 24 hours in hopes of helping reach that goal.

Wallace is one of the many members of the Auburn community who will take part in the Relay for Life, an annual event put on by the American Cancer Society. This year, participants will be taking turns with their team members walking laps at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn to remember those they’ve lost to cancer, and to raise money to continue the fight.

Each team is required to have a member walking on the track at all times. The walkers don’t sleep, “representing the reality that cancer never sleeps,” according the American Cancer Society Web site.

Wallace and her team, “Alyssa’s Walking Angels,” will walk in memory of her son, Garret L. Wallace, whom she lost to leukemia in March, and in support of her granddaughter Alyssa. Eleven-year-old Alyssa was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 6, and has since endured chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery in her five-year fight with medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor most often diagnosed in children.

Wallace first participated in 2004, and for her the walk has become more than just a fundraiser.

“It helps to walk the anger off,” she said.

She works year-round to raise awareness for her own family’s struggle, and for the American Cancer Society. For family members like Wallace and for cancer survivors, the relay serves not only as a means of raising money, but as a place to connect with and support one another.

“The camaraderie is amazing … I’m among friends, people who care, people who understand,” she said. “I’m so grateful for all the help we’ve received. I feel obligated, in a good way, to repay the help we’ve gotten.”

Wallace says she was asked to read a poem at the ceremony, but feels she won’t be able to get through the entire piece. Instead, she plans to read a quote from the movie “Generation Gap” – a quote that she lives by.

“Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, but love leaves memories that no one can steal.”

Those looking to support Wallace and others who’ve been affected by cancer can come out and participate in the event on Saturday, or make a donation online.

Organizers promise walkers and their supporters will get a lot out of this year’s relay. Relay Chairwoman Kim Lightfoot said that in addition to the walk itself, several events are planned to get the community involved. She encourages those so inclined to join in the Relay Runway, where participants create and model outfits from Relay for Life T-shirts, or to stop by and listen to some live music from the Dark Island Trio and the RJ Blues Band.

Janet Longoria, the relay co-chairwoman, invites those who wish to get involved to participate in the Luminaria Ceremony. For $10 a candle can be purchased to be lit during the ceremony in memory of someone who has passed, or to honor someone who is still fighting. At 9 p.m. on Saturday the lighted candles will line the track for the walkers.

In addition to an increase in new teams, the relay has seen an increase in support from local businesses this year, Lightfoot said. Best Buy’s Auburn store will support the event this year, with their own team of employees walking and a raffle with their products as prizes.

Other local businesses are also stepping up with their own teams. Walgreens and Starbucks will be among the local stores whose employees will hit the track on Saturday, while local restaurant Luigi’s Pastaria will be providing lunch. For dinner, the Auburn Masonic Family will raise money to fight cancer serving tacos at the fairgrounds.

“The community can come on down and participate,” Lightfoot said. “Just take a walk around the lap and visit the teams. It’s very touching, very moving.”

Wallace encourages everyone to come out to the fairgrounds on Saturday as well.

“We’ll be walking, partying, crying, laughing,” she said. “It will be great.”

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