MUSD Students Awarded Scholarships

June 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Montebello Lions Club recently awarded scholarships totaling $3,500 to eight graduating seniors from Schurr, Montebello and Vail High School in the Montebello Unified School District.

The scholarships will assist the students in furthering their education, the nonprofit organization said in its scholarship announcement.

The Montebello Lion’s Scholarship Committee noted that each of the award recipients not only excelled in high school, but also “gave a significant amount of service to their community.”

The scholarship recipients from Schurr High School are: Ryan Rodriguez, $1,000 Robert ‘Bob’ King Scholarship; Laura Garcia, $500 George Driscoll Memorial Scholarship; Jasmine Gerritsen, $500 Henry Giller Memorial Scholarship; Jasmin Ortiz, $500 Believe and Achieve Scholarship and Amanda deLeon and Priscilla Close who each received $250 scholarships.

Montebello High School senior Kattie Padilla received a $250 Believe and Achieve Scholarship and Vail High School’s Ivan Picon received the George Schneider Memorial Scholarship for $250.

The Montebello Lions meet every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Montebello Senior Center located at 115 S. Taylor Ave. “All community minded adults are invited to attend.”

LAUSD Approves Furloughs Over Layoffs

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The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday approved a series of agreements with its various labor unions – including the teachers’ union – that call for workers to take 10 furlough days during the coming school year to save the jobs of thousands of employees.

Superintendent John Deasy said the agreements, once they are all ratified by the unions’ members, will prevent the layoffs of about 4,500 teachers and “thousands and thousands” of other district workers, and will prevent some planned cuts to early education and adult education programs.

He said that while not all of the adult education programs will be saved by the deals, “the heart of the program is back with us.”

The exact number of jobs being saved was expected to be finalized once the unions ratify the pacts, Deasy said.

“This will allow the overwhelming majority of our programs to be sustained for another year,” he told the board, noting that the deals will maintain librarians and counselors and provide “partial restorations” of cuts in early and adult education.

“This doesn’t solve every problem. It can’t,” he said. “ … But it does say to students, you know, the adults who are around you will do almost anything to help you.”

In the face of an estimated $390 million budget deficit, the district earlier this year issued more than 9,000 layoff warning notices to employees.

Over the past few weeks, however, the district announced pacts being reached with the various labor unions. Most recently, the district announced Friday that it had reached an accord with the powerful United Teachers Los Angeles, calling for instructors to take 10 unpaid days during the 2012-13 school year.

Under the UTLA pact, there will be five fewer teaching days during the coming school year. Teachers would also take one “unpaid pupil-free day” and four other non-paid days.

Deasy said last week he remained hopeful that voters in November would approve a pair of tax measures being proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown to generate funds for education that could help eliminate furlough days. The district has planned to ask voters in November to approve a $298 parcel tax, but the board voted Tuesday to delay that election until after the November vote.

‘Teachers of the Year’ From Local Schools

June 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A teacher at Franklin High School in Highland Park and a teacher from Esteban Torres High school in East Los Angeles are among the 17 teachers chosen by the Los Angeles Unified School District to receive the LAUSD’s Teacher of the Year (TOY) award, given for superior and creative teaching, according to the district.

The winners include Franklin High School teacher Samuel C. Kullens and Esteban Torres High School teacher Luis E. Machuca.

Samuel C. Kullens has been at Franklin for 9 years and teaches AP U.S. History. Luis E. Machuca has been teaching special education at the Social Justice Leadership Academy at Torres since the school opened two years ago.

“Congratulations to our exemplary and dedicated LAUSD TOY winners,” said Superintendent John E. Deasy in a press release. “These scholars of education represent the best of the best in the LAUSD.”

The 17 teachers selected for the award qualify for the 2012-2013 L.A. County Teachers of the Year competition.

LAUSD Member Calls for Saving Early Education Centers

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Los Angeles Unified School Board of Education Member Bennett Kayser on Monday morning made a “last minute plea” to stop the planned closure of over 20 early education centers across the school district.

Standing in front of Toland Way Early Education Center, located near Occidental College, Kayser called the cuts regressive and shortsighted, and said they would harm families, poor children and women first.

“All the research shows that the first years are the most critical in closing achievement gaps, identifying and minimizing disabilities, and preparing for a lifetime of learning. If 3rd grade reading scores help determine prison rates, investing money on the front end is a lot smarter than throwing good money after bad, later in students’ academic lives,” he said.

A coalition of advocates joined Kayser, who, according to his office, in a motion to the Board of Education, called for Governor Brown to restore early education funds in his final budget scheduled to be released next week.

Police Use Stun Gun on Barricaded Suspect

June 14, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

(CNS) – Police used a stun gun to subdue a man in his early 40s who threatened his mother with knives and then barricaded himself inside a Boyle Heights house for more than seven hours on Monday.

The man was sharpening knives in the kitchen of the house near the intersection of Seventh and Lorena streets around 6:30 p.m. Monday and told his mother he was going to use them on her when he was done, said Sgt. Peter Gamino, watch commander at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station. She ran from the house and called police, he said.

Unable to get the man to surrender, officers eventually seized an opportunity to end the standoff, Gamino said.

“He came to the door and started talking smack and officers reached through a window and shot him with a Taser,” he said. The man fell through the front door and was taken into custody, Gamino said.

During the standoff, the man threatened to blow the house up by opening natural gas lines, so firefighters were called in to cut off the home’s gas supply, Gamino said.

Three Shot in Boyle Heights

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(CNS) – Three members of a band were shot in Boyle Heights early Sunday in a drive-by attack that occurred as a party where they played wound down.

Members of the band were packing up when a gunman opened fire on them in the 400 block of Euclid Avenue about 1:45 a.m., Los Angeles police Lt. Richard Thomas of the Hollenbeck Station said.

Initial reports suggested it was a shotgun blast fired from a white Toyota or Honda, but police were unable to immediately confirm that.

A woman was shot in the abdomen, a man in a thigh and another man was shot in a hand, Thomas said. No names or hospital conditions were made available, but Thomas said all three should live.

Rash of Garden Thefts in Monterey Park

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(CNS) – Garden statuary, patio furniture — even potted plants and shrubs — have been disappearing from the yards of Monterey Park residents, and police were warning residents to be on the lookout for the thieves.

At least eight such thefts have been reported since May, Monterery Park police Lt. Carrie Mazelin said.

A concrete bench was stolen from in front of a home in the 400 block of South Chandler Avenue, and statues of Saint Francis and an angel were stolen, along with a love seat and a three-piece concrete bench from a house a block away, Mazelin said.

Two shrubs were taken from the front yard of a home in the 1000 block of East Hellman Avenue, and four plants were stolen from the front yard of a residence in the 2300 block of Crest Haven Way, she said.

Potted orchids were taken from the front porch of a house in the 1800 block of Kempton Avenue and, in the 600 block of West Newmark Avenue, a yellow ceramic fountain was taken from a front porch, Mazelin said.

A Hispanic man in his 30s with a medium build and short, straight black hair is suspected in a 3 a.m. theft of two potted topiary plants, a wood and iron bench and a ceramic planter from the front porch of a house in the 100 block of South Moore Avenue, she said.

“Generally, these thefts are committed during late night or early morning hours,” Mazelin said.

Suspicious activity should be reported by calling police at (626) 573-1311.

Dolores Mission Community ‘Peace March’ Today

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(EGPNews) – Members of a Boyle Heights neighborhood say they will conduct a peace march this evening, in response to what they say is an escalation of gang-related homicides in their community.

Organizers of the march said they “will march together in solidarity to demand peace and to pay our respects to the victims whose lives were taken by this recent gang violence.”

The group says they will meet at 6 p.m. at Dolores Mission Church, 171 S. Gless St. LA, CA, 90033, then march to all four locations where the homicides have taken place and offer a brief prayer for each of the victims: Ricky Orozco – killed April 3 inside Pico Gardens; Eddie Banks Jr., killed April 30 at 1st & Bailey; Frankie Velasquez, killed May 5 on 1st and Gless Street, and the most recent victim, Emmanuel Vargas, killed on June 7 at 4th Street and Boyle Avenue.

College Transition Program for Students with Autism Grows

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When fall classes resume on The University of Alabama campus in August, 18 students are expected to participate in UA’s transition program for students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The program, launched at UA in 2006, is one of only a handful of such programs nationwide designed specifically for providing support for students with an ASD, which includes autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive development disorder, said Dr. Sarah Ryan, the program’s director.

“It’s a safety net for the students – to have someone for the students to check in with and for the students to get help from,” Ryan said.

As the number of children identified nationwide as having an ASD has trended upward for several years, it’s evident, Ryan said, that universities will see an increasing number of students who could potentially benefit from the program’s services.

The UA program, which began with one student and grew, over the last five years, to 12, pairs the students with a mentor – usually a graduate student in psychology — who has received training from UA’s autism experts. The mentor and student meet two to three times per week, Ryan said.

The meetings are individually tailored to the student’s precise needs, but the mentor might, for example, offer tips to the student on ways to break down a large, somewhat overwhelming assignment, into smaller, more manageable segments, Ryan said.

Mentors can also offer additional organizational tips, advice on how to be good self-advocates – helping students better understand how and when to ask for assistance from their professors or others on campus. Some of the students in the program may have never invited a friend to the movies or to dinner, and mentors can help the students navigate those social circles.

If a student has anxiety or depression — additional challenges faced by some people with an ASD — mentors are trained in how to spot those warning signs and can ensure the students receive the needed help.

Every other week, participants and mentors meet with Ryan and others in group settings. Some weeks they discuss coping skills. During others, they may discuss best ways of studying for finals, plan a group outing or play Trivial Pursuit.

“They beat us at it,” Ryan said.

Difficulties in social interaction – including knowing how to make friends – poor conversation skills and obsessive interests are characteristics of people with autism spectrum disorders. Individuals with an ASD have IQ scores ranging from mental retardation to giftedness.

Students in UA’s Autism Spectrum Disorders College Transition and Support Program, known as UA-ACTS, must first be admitted into the University on their own merits.

“It’s five to 10 hours of services a week — depending on the student,” Ryan said. Those hours can be increased, if needed, she said.

The services come with a cost. Enrolled students in the program pay $3,300 during both the fall and spring semesters and $2,000 if enrolled during the summer.

Although the UA program is still in its infancy, so far the success rate of its enrolled students is comparable to that of the typical UA student, Ryan said.

By this fall, the UA program is expected to enroll students from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, Tennessee, New York and Texas.

“We’ve got a great group at UA, and we’re really excited to see what they can do,” Ryan said. Employers often benefit, she said, from some of the typical traits and perspectives that someone with an ASD brings to their position.

“They can become model employees,” Ryan said, “and probably some of your best innovators.”

The support system can also prove comforting to parents, Ryan said. After investing years in therapies and other means to help prepare their children for independence, some parents can feel intimidated by seeing their children on the verge of potentially achieving it, she said.

“To suddenly no longer be involved is scary – both for the parents and the students,” Ryan said.

In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an ASD. Among 8-year-old children, 11.3 per 1,000 were identified as having an ASD, a 23 percent increase since the previous report in 2009, according to a CDC news release. Some of the increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown, according to the release.

Ryan said the program is also beneficial to the student mentors.

“This is not a training experience they are going to get at most any other university,” she said.

The UA-ACTS program is operated through the University’s Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic. The clinic, which provides psychology, speech language pathology and pediatric services for individuals with ASD across their lifespans, is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Male Cyclists Could Face Hormone Changes

June 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Men who ride bicycles may experience hormonal imbalances that could affect their reproductive health, researchers say in a UCLA School of Nursing study released today.

To date, an extensive amount of research has been performed documenting the positive effects of long-term exercise on health, according to a nursing school statement.

“These studies have shown that while moderate exercise can lead to enhanced cardiovascular and metabolic function and reduced body fat, ultra-endurance levels of exercise can also adversely affect the neuroendocrine system and reproductive health,” the statement said.

The UCLA study explored the associations between exercise intensity and circulating levels of reproductive hormones in serious leisure male athletes — triathletes and cyclists — and recreational athletes.

UCLA researchers, according to the nursing school statement, studied 107 healthy male athletes ages 18 to 60 and divided them into three groups: 16 were triathletes, 46 were cyclists and 45 were recreational athletes. Blood samples were collected from each participant to measure total testosterone, estradiol, cortisol, interleukin-6 and other hormones.

“Plasma estradiol and testosterone levels were significantly elevated in serious leisure male cyclists, a finding not previously reported in any type of male athlete,” said School of Nursing assistant professor Leah Fitzgerald, the study’s senior author.

Plasma estradiol concentrations were more than two times higher in the cyclists than in the triathlete and recreational athletes, and total testosterone levels were about 50 percent higher in cyclists than in the recreational athletes, she said.

Estradiol is a form of estrogen and produced in males as an active metabolic product of testosterone. Possible conditions associated with elevated estrogen in males include gynecomastia, which can result in the loss of male pubic hair and enlarged breast tissue.

“Although preliminary, these findings warrant further investigation to determine if specific types of exercise may be associated with altered sex hormone levels in men that could affect general health and reproductive well-being,” Fitzgerald said.

The study also found an association between an increase in estrogen levels and of chamois cream use, particularly for male cyclists using the cream for more than four years. But no direct cause and effect has been established, the statement said. The cream is applied to help prevent chaffing and bacterial infections related to bicycle saddle sores.

The UCLA study, “Reproductive Hormones and Interleukin-6 in Serious Leisure Male Athletes,” was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. It was funded by the UCLA School of Nursing, UCLA General Clinical Research Center and the nonprofit Kaiser Foundation.

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