Tag Archives: Schools

Space Shuttle Endeavor To Fly Over Burbank

Burbank residents, along with others in Southern California, will have one last opportunity to view the Space Shuttle Endeavor flying through the sky on Friday morning.  It will be the last time a space shuttle will fly, ending a chapter in America’s space exploration program.

According to information from NASA, the shuttle will be over the greater Los Angeles area sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday.  It will be riding atop a special Boeing 747 that has carried it from Florida to Los Angeles. The plane and shuttle are scheduled to land at 12 noon. at Los Angeles International Airport.  It was originally schedule to land at 11 a.m., but it’s take off time from Edwards Air Force Base was pushed back an hour to allow for fog to lift in San Francisco before the shuttle flies over that city, and Sacramento prior to coming to Los Angeles.

If the plane carrying the shuttle follows the route that was flown by two jet  trainers making a practice run on August 25, it will come into Burbank from the southeast out of Glendale, after flying by the Griffith Observatory, roughly following the Golden State Freeway, at 1,500 ft.  The two planes made a 90 degree left turn at approximately Magnolia Blvd. and headed west.  The shuttle is scheduled to fly over Universal Studios, so the assumption is that it will head there, before continuing on it’s route.  Although the exact route has not been released, the shuttle is supposed to fly over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada-Flintridge, Disneyland, the Queen Mary and USS Iowa in Long Beach, it’s future home in Exposition Park, the Getty Museum, and the Hollywood Sign.

The flight path, if it follows the practice run, should have the shuttle flying over or nearby to several schools in Burbank, including McKinley, Disney, Edison, Roosevelt, and Stevenson Elementary Schools, Jordan Middle School, and John Burroughs High School. According to the Burbank Unified School District, school principals have been notified about the shuttle flight. It is uncertain if students will be allowed to go outside the classroom and view the shuttle.  Parents may want to call their child’s school and determine if students will be allowed to watch the shuttle flight.

After the shuttle lands at LAX, it will be housed in a United Airlines hanger, where it will be readied for the drive to it’s permanent home at the California Science Center.  That move will take place sometime in October.

The Show Must Go On For Burbank Ballerina

Hannah Hart of Burbank will be performing in the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre’s “Dance in the USA” tonight.  It is the culmination of over 15 years of dancing for the young ballerina, but it is a performance she almost didn’t get to make.

Hannah Hart

Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Hannah began taking dance lessons when she was 3 years old.  She moved to Burbank with her mother and sisters in 2006, to pursue an acting career.   She heard about the Media City Dance Company (now Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre) from a friend, and began taking lessons there while attending middle school. Since then she has danced in several of their shows, including the Nutcracker, and Axis Mundi, where she was a demi-soloist.

Although dancing takes up much of her time, Hannah hasn’t neglect her school work.  In her senior year she took Honors English and Advanced Placement Biology, maintaining a 3.95 GPA.  The 18 year-old graduated from John Burroughs High School in May.  She is planning on majoring in Environmental Science in college.

Tonight’s show at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater in the Cahuenga Pass, has required many hours of practice in recent months. At one of those practice session in early June, Hannah felt something snap in her foot.  She had broken a bone.  The doctor prescribed a splint and crutches for the next six weeks.  It looked like Hannah might miss her final performance. but she is one dedicated dancer. She went to every rehearsal — on crutches.  She didn’t dance, but had to be content just watching others dance.  Not an easy thing for her to do.

“I almost started crying at that first rehearsal because I couldn’t dance,” said Hannah

Near the end of July, she got the doctor’s OK to dance again.  The rigorous schedule of rehearsals five times a week will all come to fruition at 8:30 p.m. tonight, when the curtain comes up for “Dance in the USA.”   It should be an exciting night for the young dancer, but she won’t have time to celebrate.

Early Saturday morning Hannah is leaving for college.  She and her mother, Bridget Barstow, will be driving up to San Francisco, where Hannah is enrolled as a freshman at the University of San Francisco.  Her dorm at the private college has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It will be quite a change from the view she has of the Doughnut Hut on Magnolia Blvd. from her present home on Keystone St., where she lives with her mother, step-father Owen Keenan, and three younger sisters, Molly Hart, and Caroline and Bridget Keenan.

Although she is leaving behind her family, friends, and Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, as she embarks on her college career, Hannah does plan to take some dance classes while she is in San Francisco. Ballerina, actress, environmental scientist — whichever career, or combination of careers, she chooses, I’m sure we have not heard the last from this talented young lady.

Ballerina Hannah Hart with the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre will be among the poerformers in "Dance in the USA."


Back To School Time

Yes, it is still the middle of summer and we are in the midst of a heat wave, but it’s “Back To School” time in Burbank.

At Thomas Edison Elementary School, students and parents lined up early Friday evening to get a first look at the classroom assignement that were just posted on the school's front door. (Photo by Stan Lynch)

Students will be returning to the classroom bright and early Monday morning.  It’s almost a month earlier than the tradition start of school, which a few years ago was a week after Labor Day.  The earlier start of school, which has been gradually moved up over the past few years, allows for the fall semester to end just prior to Christmas. It also results in the school year ending just prior to Memorial Day, rather than the traditional mid-June time.

The BUSD serves slightly over 15,000 students at 11 elementary schools, three middle schools, two comprehensive high school, one continuation high school, and two alternative schools.

“We are one of the few districts that isn’t seeing a decline in enrollment,” said Ted Bunch, vice president of the Board of Education, “Our student population has remained about the same as last year.”

Students in many of the Los Angeles Unified School District schools will return to the classroom on Tuesday, August 14.

Registration for classes at the Burbank Adult School is now open.  The various classes offered can be viewed on line at http://www.burbankusd.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4859.  Adults can register on line at http://www.adultedreg.com/burbank/ or in person at the school, 3811 W. Allan Ave.

Cell Phone Towers – They’re Everywhere in Burbank – Here is the List

On the City Council agenda tonight is the appeal for the Little White Chapel to have a cell phone antenna on their roof, changing site lines and raising the height of the building.

While the City Council can act on these measures and stop this cell tower, there are already over 100 cell phones antenna site facilities located throughout Burbank.  Most are on major streets, but still near residential aareas — and somre are just mere blocks away from schools.

We have obtained an official ‘unofficial’ list from the City of Burbank, noting  all the cell phone company sites throughout Burbank.

Many of these facilities have been in place for years.  After all, with all the people in Burbank that own cell phones and pads, there has to be numerous facilities that handle all of the information traveling wireless.

Residents Protest Potential Cell Tower to be Located at Church

Residence near Little White Chapel hold 'Press Briefing' looking for support to protest the proposed Cell Phone Tower being installed across the street. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Thursday, May 17, parents of children attending Bret Harte Elementary School and Luther Burbank Middle School held a press conference to protest the construction of a 2000 watt T-Mobile cell phone antenna in their residence-only (R1) neighborhood.

The facility would be built on the roof of the Little White Chapel at 1711 North Avon Street, just 528 feet from Bret Harte Elementary School and 1,056 feet from Luther Burbank Middle School.

Residents claim the EMR Policy Institute recommends a safe “buffer zone” of 1,500 feet between wireless telecommunications facilities and nearby schools.  They content that installing an antenna so close to schools means the approximately 1,700 children who attend Bret Harte and Luther Burbank will be exposed to constant electromagnetic radiation.

Long-term radiation exposure has been linked to an increased risk of brain tumors, leukemia, suppressed immune function, and adverse cognitive functioning. Children are at greatest risk due to their thinner skulls and rapid rate of growth.


Residence near Little White Chapel hold 'Press Briefing' looking for support to protest the proposed Cell Phone Tower being installed across the street. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Residents Organizing to Fight Little White Chapel Cell Phone Antennea

On May 22, 2012 at 6:00 p.m., Burbank  residents will fill City Hall in opposition to the construction of a proposed T-Mobile wireless telecommunications facility (WTF). The facility would be built on the roof of The Little White Chapel at 1711 North Avon Street, just 528 feet  away from Bret Harte Elementary School and 1,056 feet away from Luther  Burbank Middle School. At the meeting, council members will listen to  arguments from neighborhood residents and decide whether or not to uphold a  previous decision to approve the project made by the Burbank Planning Board.

Three separate appeals were filed in opposition to the proposed tower, and a grass-roots group of parents, property owners, educators, and neighbors has organized to solicit larger community support for the appeals. Residents are concerned about the constant emission of electromagnetic radiation from the tower and the potential for adverse health effects such as an increased risk for cancer. They also believe the tower would decrease property values, and that the generators and air conditioners needed to run the facility would create a nuisance. “We are not against cell towers,” says appellant, Laurie Huber. “We are simply for the safe and responsible placement of cell towers. Industrial commercial equipment does not belong in residential neighborhoods near homes and schools.”

In October 2011, the City of Burbank changed an ordinance to allow for the construction of WTFs in residence-only neighborhoods, as long as the facilities are built on properties for institutional use. “The revised ordinance threatens the character and integrity of R-1 neighborhoods,” states appellant Kathryn Merlo. “It changes Burbank’s best neighborhood assets like parks and schools into places that are detrimental to property value and quite possibly dangerous to children and residents.”

The proposed WTF at the Little White Chapel would be the first facility permitted under the new ordinance. Appellant Terry Bruse lives next door to the church. “This cell tower would be on all the time,” he says. “It will be less than 50 feet from my bedroom window. The noise from 24 hours of air conditioning running will be a constant nuisance. I feel let down by elected  officials.”

Appellant Roy Wiegand agrees. “I feel like the city and the church are selling us  out. This tower is precedent-setting. Because of the ordinance change, towers will be coming to all neighborhoods if we don’t stop it here. This is not just a fight for our neighborhood. It is a fight for all Burbank neighborhoods.”

Spring Break Nature Camps

Stough Canyon Nature Center, nestled in the Verdugo Mountains above the DeBell Golf Course at the top of Walnut Avenue.

Registration begins today for the City’s Nature Camps that will be held during the week of spring break when Burbank’s public schools will be on closed.

The Stough Canyon Nature Center will be offering the camps for children between the ages of 2 and 10 years of age.   They will be held between March 19 and 23, at the Nature Center, which is located at 2300 Walnut Drive, in the Verdugo Mountains above the DeBell Golf Course.

Campers receive a nature camp souvenir, and participate in hikes, nature activities, and crafts during the camp sessions.  Snacks are provided each day, but campers must bring water, and wear appropriate clothing and shoes for hiking.  New campers are required to provide a birth certificate or other proof of age before the camp starts.

The “Little Rangers” camp for children 3-5 years of age will be held on March 20 and 22, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.  The cost is $32 for the camp.  The “Verdugo Mountain Explorers” camp is for older children, ages 6-10.  That camp will be held on March 19, 21, and 23, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.  The cost is $38.

Online and mail-in registration is from February 17-24.    To register online, simply go to the Burbankparks/com web site.   Mail-in registration should be sent to:  Stough Canyon Nature Center, P.O. Box 6459, Burbank, CA 91510.   Registrations must be postmarked between February 17 and 24.  Walk-in begins at the Nature Center on March 6, at 8 a.m., and continues daily from 8-5 p.m. until the camps are full.   For more information call 818-238-5440.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Priorities and Perspective Go a Long Way

Last week, the Burroughs girls’ soccer team dropped two games to its crosstown rivals, the Burbank Bulldogs. Some wrongly blamed the losses on the school’s decision to suspend three players for the Pacific League finale on February 9 after they had directed obscenities and even made threats — including one confirmed incident where a player made threats on Facebook — towards a member of the Burbank team.

The next day, the two teams met again in a match-up to determine who would earn the fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot out of the league. Two players were reinstated but one player remained ineligible to play because she remained suspended from school. Amongst the distraction, Burroughs fell to Burbank, 2-1. Again, at least a few grumbles and rants were heard on the west side of town near the Burroughs campus.

Hours earlier, another Pacific League school was scrambling to deal with a much bigger loss; the loss of a young life. A sophomore at Crescenta Valley High School had jumped from a campus roof top to his death. He was 15. Reports had surfaced by the weekend that the student was a victim of bullying. Funeral services were held yesterday. This tragedy should put things into real perspective for all of us.

We love our sports for the way they at times mirror life, but they are not life. In acting as educational leaders and as adults who must set the example for nearly 3,000 students on the Burroughs campus, the school officials did the only sensible thing.

Having worked with the administration at Burbank High on several discipline matters this school year, I can assure you that they would have done the exact same thing had one of their students made any sort of threat towards a Burroughs student. After all, the two sites — while rivals — are also fixtures that represent the city of Burbank and the Burbank Unified School District.

As many of you know, I am a school administrator with the district. Sadly, even at the middle school level far too much of our time gets spent following parent or student reports of threats and harassment on Facebook. This is a part of our norm even after countless presentations to students and parents about the dangers out there in cyberspace. Incidents continue even though our school incorporates the “Character Counts” program as a part of our campus culture. With its 873 million users — many of which are under 18 — Facebook is the ultimate stage for peer pressure.

The elementary schools have the Peace Builders Program and the secondary schools recently formed a committee of administrators from each site determined to take action against bullying.

Jordan Middle School recently launched a campaign called STOP IT! (Stop Shoving/Teasing/Offending/Pushing/Intimidating/Teasing) aimed at stopping bullying on their campus. The campaign is led by students who are part of the STARs (Students and Teachers Against Ridicule).

Even united, the school sites and the homes face an uphill battle.

Imagine a student with 200 “friends” posting something negative about another on the site. Now imagine those 200 “friends” with “friends” of their own each commenting that they “like” what has just been posted. See how quickly a rumor, a threat or an obscene picture can spread through cyberspace?

The impact can do serious damage. That is the message parents and school officials need to continue to get out. The other reality that needs to hit home is that nothing is ever really private on the internet, which is of course public domain. Once something is posted it is out there for all to see.

Think back to your days in secondary school and then picture your class bully. What does he look like? Chances are you pictured the real-life equivalent to the character Nelson on the animated series “The Simpsons.” In your school age experience the bully was easy to spot, he was the biggest kid in the hallway trying to stuff a smaller kid into a locker.

Today, bullying comes in many forms and text messaging and social media sites are frequently used. Both are all too real and painful.

Court rulings on these issues are in their infancy, but thus far they support a school’s and district’s obligation to protect all of its students — even at the expense of the privacy of an individual. In addition, California Ed-Code has a violation on “bullying” recently expanded to include cyber bullying.

Schools can and should and must take disciplinary action for students who make threats or bully via the internet. And although disciplinary action should be taken, the other crucial piece is for the partnership between the home and school to take advantage of those teachable moments. The lesson learned last week should be that sometimes in the heat of competition in sports we forget that in the end we are all on the same team.

Academy Award Winner Inspires Students at Burbank’s Providencia Elementary

Michael Giacchino answers a question or two from students ( (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Academy Award-Winning Composer and Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) Advisory Board Member Michael Giacchino went back to elementary school, joining a violin class — his first ever!

Giacchino  spent time on January 24, with the 4th and 5th graders at Burbank’s Providencia Elementary School, discussing his career writing music in Hollywood.  He hoped to inspire young music students to follow their dreams whatever they may be.

Best known for his exciting scores for major box office hits and top TV shows like
Mission Impossible IV”, “The Incredibles”,  and “UP” (for which he won an Academy Award in 2009), Giacchino is also a devoted educator. He currently sits on the Advisory Board for Education Through Music-LA, a non-profit program dedicated to promoting the integration of music into the curriculum of Los Angeles-area elementary and middle schools with low-income student poopulations.

Michael Giacchino directs Bobby Shulgold while students at Burbank’s Providencia Elementary School listen intently. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)


Education Through Music-LA partnered with the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and Burbank Unified Arts for All to provide instrumental music education to students at Providencia Elementary this year.

With the help of clips from his acclaimed Disney/Pixar films “Up” and “Cars 2″, Giacchino playfully shared what it takes to make movie magic happen. On his role as a composer, Giacchino shared how important communication is.

“It’s so important to be clear about what you’re feeling,” said Giacchino,  “Music is a guide for your emotions. I have to tailor my music to fit the scene perfectly.”

He presented two versions of a cue from “Up” and engaged the students in a discussion about which musical arrangement truly expressed the meaning behind the scene. Giacchino also invited studio flutist Bobby Shugold to play cues from “Up” as the students commented on what feelings they experienced when the music was played differently each time.

All Michael Giacchino had to say was tjat he worked with Salena and the girls were all ears at Providencia Elementary School ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Students were captivated and inspired, as well as curious, about all aspects of Giacchino’s life. When asked, “Do you hang out with celebrities?”  Giacchino joked, “Yeah…Tom Cruise is waiting in the car. I’ve worked with a lot of people who are probably considered celebrities, but when I’m with them, we’re just people making a movie…we don’t really think of it that way.”

Another student inquired, “How do you come up with all that music?” Giacchino laughed, “They made me! The trick is, always make sure the job you take is something that will inspire you.”

Every student at Providencia Elementary School receives weekly music education throughout the school year through the ETM-LA program. “This type of program would not be possible in this fiscal climate without incredible partners”, said Burbank Unified School Distict Arts Coordinator Peggy Flynn. Providencia principal Jennifer Culbertson added, “The entire Providencia community is so grateful to Burbank Arts For All, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and Education Through Music-LA, for this amazing music program.  Our students will not soon forget the time they spent with Mr. Giacchino — and neither will I.”

Clips from some of Michael Giacchino movie work had the full attention of 4th and 5th graders at Providencia Elementary School. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Giacchino has long been an advocate for the importance of music in a child’s education. Executive Director of ETM-LA, Victoria Lanier shared, “We are grateful to Michael for championing our mission. All kids out there deserve to have music be a real and lasting part of their development and lives.” On a recent Good Morning America interview, Giacchinol asserted, “Music and art aren’t these frivolous extras that you get by going to school. They’re a necessity. They’re actually as big a part of learning as math and science.” From the smiles and joy on the kids’ faces, Giacchino’s visit was an inspiration to the kids at Providencia. Mission accomplished.

Michael Giacchino, Academy Award-Winning Composer, poses with future award winners at Burbank’s Providencia Elementary School ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank’s Arts For All Foundation Awards Largest Arts Grant to Date

Burbank Arts For All present a check for grants for Burbank Schools (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Arts for All Foundation announced today its Fall 2011 grant, the largest award to date of over $20,000, benefiting 14 visual and performing arts programs as well as the Burbank Unified School District.  The Foundation received an unprecedented 33 grant applications.

Commenting on the announcement, Burbank Arts for All co-Chairpersons, Alexandra Helfrich and Craig Murray jointly stated, “We received an overwhelming amount of grant applicants which validates the vital need of continued support for the visual and performing arts programs in all of Burbank public schools.   The focus of our giving was on fulfillment of the Foundation’s mission, building capacity in schools, reaching the greatest number of kids, and the professional development and merit of the application.  We are extremely proud that we were able to fund every one of the visual and performing arts this cycle.”

“To say that we are delighted with this generous grant impacting the lives of over 15,000 Burbank students would be an understatement,” added Superintendent Stan Carrizosa.  “I want to personally thank those who generously contribute to the Burbank Arts for All Foundation.  The number of grant applicants alone reflects the continued need of support for visual and performing arts programs in our schools.  Artistic experiences capture our creative thinking and passion, which is a direct line to our best intellectual capacities.  This is exactly how arts education enriches the lives of our students.”

The Fall 2011 grants will go toward the renovation of school auditoriums; the creation of a media lab and television studio; a school-wide fine arts program that will be a model for the district; the integration of physical education and dance; musical instruments; an interactive Shakespeare day; a pilot choreographer in residency in physical education and dance; a sculpture project; an extraordinary book project integrating visual arts, photography and literature; an economics through art project; and BUSD strategic planning for an updated Arts for All Plan.

Fall 2011 Visual and Performing Arts Grant Recipients

Emerson Elementary School               Auditorium Sound System Improvements

Jefferson Elementary School              Auditorium Sound System Improvements

Stevenson Elementary School School-wide Fine Arts Fridays

Jordan Middle School                         Physical Education and Dance Integration

Jordan Middle School                         News and Entertainment Studio for Media Arts

Luther Middle School                          Musical Instrument Replenishment

Muir Middle School                            8th Grade – Taming of the Shrew Day

Burbank High School                           Auditorium Lighting System Improvements

Burbank High School                           Choreographer in Residence and District Wide Professional Development

John Burroughs High School               Modern Figure Sculptures

John Burroughs High School               The Book Project Integrating Literature, Photography and Visual Arts

John Burroughs High School               Empowering Economic Decision Making Through Art

John Burroughs High School               Musical Instrument Replenishment

Burbank Unified School District          District-wide Arts for All Strategic Planning for 2012-2022

The Foundation accepts applications twice a year for two separate grant cycles.  Grant deadlines are March 15 and September 15. To learn more about specific grants and their deadlines go to: www.burbankartsforall.org/grants/