By Mary O’KEEFE
It seems when every school year ends, the community says goodbye to some school staff, some who retire and some who move to other district schools and offices. This year was no exception.
As the last days of school approached, the realization hit many that La Crescenta Elementary School Principal Kim Bishop was retiring.
Bishop took the reins as principal of LCE nine years ago. She has been in the field of education for 40 years, 20 of them as principal. Prior to becoming principal at La Crescenta she served in that capacity at Horace Mann Elementary in Glendale.
After working four decades in education, it would be difficult for Bishop to simply walk away, so she plans on continuing on as a consultant for the district – training principals.
She said she will miss the “family” atmosphere at La Crescenta Elementary, though.
“I will miss the assemblies,” she said, “watching children sing and perform. I will miss working with families and the outstanding staff.”
Josephine Bixler has been announced as the incoming La Crescenta Elementary principal. Bixler moves from Wilson Middle School where she served as assistant principal. Bishop worked with Bixler during the last few weeks before school ended. The two principals seemed to share similar philosophies; when asked what advice she would give to Bixler, Bishop responded, “Advice I know she will take – sit back and watch and soak it all in before you move.”
Members of the teaching staff, PTA and student representatives were on hand in May at a reception to wish Bishop well and to say a tearful goodbye.
“She’s a nice person to everybody and cares for everybody and she wants people to respect each other,” said La Crescenta Elementary student Ian Boors of his principal.
Boors will be going into seventh grade in the fall. He added Bishop had given him some advice about middle school.
“She said it was okay if we are afraid. We will meet a lot of new people and make new friends,” he said.
The school will be losing another member of its staff with the retirement of Oscar Arvizu, longtime school custodian. Arvizu has been with La Crescenta Elementary for 23 years.
“I have been in communication with the teachers here and everyone has said how much of a treasure he is,” said Ricky Arvizu, Oscar’s son. “They told me he is the soul of the school.”
“It is bittersweet,” added Michael Arvizu, Oscar’s son.” It makes me feel nostalgic for the past, but I am glad he has finally reached this stage in his life.”
“We will probably move away from California,” Oscar said of retirement. Ricky attended college in Prescott, Arizona. Oscar and his wife fell in love with the area and now plan to retire there.
Teachers and kids spoke highly of Oscar and his constant presence and positive spirit. Teacher Jim Jenks said Oscar was the first person who greeted him when he arrived at the school.
“Jackie Robinson said, ‘Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life,’” Jenks quoted. “That’s Oscar. He is a doer.”
“He is a hero, so selfless,” Bishop said of Oscar. “Oscar takes care of us.”
She added that no matter what the staff, parents or kids needed, no matter the time, he was always there with a smile to help.
Jenks asked the audience at the reception to describe Oscar. “Humble. Helpful. Kind,” were words often used. Then a video highlighting his time at the school was shown accompanied by the song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The audience in unison said, “The perfect song.”
Crescenta Valley High School will also be losing two of its own over the summer. Assistant principals Charlotte Sassounian and Lisa Reed will not be returning to CVHS next fall.
Sassounian has been at the school for five years; she has been with the Glendale district as an administrator for 15 years. She will be transferring to Glendale High School as its assistant principal.
After 29 years at CVHS, Lisa Reed will be moving to the district office to help with the district’s math program. Reed was head of the Math Dept. for years before taking the assistant principal position.
Leaving CVHS after so many years will be difficult, Reed said.
“I will miss everyone,” she said. “I have been here a long time.”
Two GHS teachers, Forest Holbrook and John Eldred, will be taking the positions left void by Reed and Sassounian.