By Mary O’KEEFE
On Monday, kids will head back to Glendale Unified public schools while classes have already begun, or are about to begin, at local private schools.
First days may be different but one commonality is that many students are dropped off at and picked up from school. That means traffic headaches as parents rush, drivers are distracted and kids dart in and out of traffic when crossing the street.
“Every year we get complaints with drivers speeding. It is usually parents who are running behind [in time]. They may be in a rush,” said Officer Kevin Denmon, California Highway Patrol.
Other complaints from drivers and school officials are that parents either speed through the drop-off areas or drop their children off in non-designated areas.
All the schools in Crescenta Valley have designated drop zones.
“Allow yourself enough time,” Denmon advised parents. “Set your alarm clock earlier. And use the drop zones properly.”
Other complaints include children not using seat belts or child seats properly and drivers that are distracted.
In the rush to drop off or pick up students, drivers will sometimes have a child either unbuckled before the vehicle is at a stop or will pull away without the student being buckled in.
Distracted drivers are still a prominent problem not only in the Crescenta Valley but nationwide, Denmon said.
“As always, drivers need to be cognizant of distracted driving. Drivers are using cellphones, texting, [concentrating] on radios, eating or even talking to their child in the backseat,” Denmon said.
Whatever the cause of the distraction, Denmon reminds drivers it is important to concentrate on driving … while driving.
“Remember … that young drivers, if they are under 18 years old, cannot use a cellphone [hands free or not] while driving,” he said.
As far as the complaints CHP has received from drivers and officials, it is for the most part equally distributed between young and mature drivers.
“[Complaints that I hear from other parents and officials are] more about parents dropping off and picking kids up. But neighbors complain about young drivers,” Denmon said. “Whether you are a new or experienced driver, you need to [obey the traffic laws].”
CHP plans on visiting principals of local schools to discuss traffic issues and help with solutions.
“One of our largest complaints is around elementary schools that parents don’t want to obey the traffic laws,” said Lt. Steve Robertson of the Glendale Police Traffic and Air Support.
Glendale police use temporary traffic cameras that they place periodically near local schools to find drivers who violate traffic laws.
“We can mail parking tickets to [drivers],” he said. “That is a huge volume [of tickets] we can issue.”
“Get up on time and leave early enough to drop your child off,” Robertson advised parents.
Crescenta Valley Town Council member Robbyn Battles has been working with the CHP, GUSD and Los Angeles County Public Works to make the streets safer for school kids.
One of the new safety features is a lighted crosswalk at Glenwood Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
“We needed that,” Battles said of the crosswalk.
Last school year she stood with public works representatives and CHP to watch how dangerously pedestrians crossed as they went from one side of Foothill Boulevard to the other. As they watched, students played a cat and mouse game with cars; at one point one student was almost hit as a vehicle sped through the crosswalk.
Battles hopes the newly lighted crosswalk will call attention to the pedestrians.
“But they have to remember to use it,” she added. “[Pedestrians] have to remember to push the button, wait for the light and cross.”
She added pedestrians still have to be aware of the traffic.
“They still have to watch for cars,” she said. “But I think this [signal] is a win-win not only for the students but for parents.”
Battles had also worked to create a new crosswalk in the 2600 block of Orange Avenue at the east end of the Monte Vista Elementary campus. She also encourages drivers to drop their child off at Two Strike Park and allow them to walk to the school.
“Rosemont students can also be dropped off at the park and walk down,” she added.
Public Works has also planned to move the crosswalks on Ramsdell Avenue near Crescenta Valley High School. The crosswalks that are now on Ramsdell Avenue north of Evelyn Street and Altura Avenue will be moving to the south side of those streets.
This will make it easier for drivers to turn left and hopefully will take care of some of the traffic congestion in the area, Battles said.
In addition to traffic awareness, the beginning of the school year also ushers in opportunity thefts of iPods, phones and wallets that are left in unattended backpacks and unlocked lockers.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” advised Sgt. Debra Herman, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Herman said that often times high school and middle school students walk out of school with their phones and iPods connected to earbuds. They wear the earbuds and are not aware of what is around them.
During last school year, some students had their cellphones stolen as they walked home from school.
“The [suspects] ran up behind the [victims] and just grabbed their phones,” Herman said. “If you are going to wear earbuds, wear just one.”
Another issue is stolen items out of lockers and backpacks. Herman said students will leave their backpacks unattended and come back to find items from the pack gone.
She suggested students keep cellphones and other small electronics with them, not leave them unattended, and to lock their lockers both in the classroom buildings and locker rooms.
In addition to traffic issues, a few of the schools will look a little different. Solar panels are up or are in the process of construction at local schools. The panels at CVHS cover the parking lot, Monte Vista and Mountain Avenue elementary schools panels are already placed and Rosemont Middle School and Clark Magnet panels are in the process of being completed.
Recently the solar construction has raised criticism from neighbors and parents of the elementary schools, however the beginning of the year will be the first time students will come face to face with the new technology.
At Rosemont the foundation for the panels is set and panels will soon be in place, stretching partially over the amphitheater.
“It looks fantastic and will add a ton of shade,” said Rosemont Principal Cynthia Livingston.
She added that Rosemont’s seventh grade class numbers are slightly lower than the past years. They will continue to keep their after school programs and hope to add more. The concern is keeping the programs funded. Other middle schools in the district are categorized as Title I schools. This means they are allowed special budget consideration from the state for programs like after school sports.
Rosemont is dependent on private funding to maintain or establish any programs. At present, Rosemont is planning to continue the Girls on the Run, lacrosse, basketball, football and soccer programs. Livingston is working with the PTA to increase the programs, but that all depends on funding.
There are some changes at CVHS with the departure of local resident and associate principal Mike Bertram who will fill that position at Glendale High School. Dr. Rene Valdes moves from GHS to CVHS as associate principal. A new principal, Dr. Adriana Pestonji, will welcome Valley View Elementary School students. Former principal Carla Walker moves to John Marshall Elementary.
Clark Magnet High School principal Doug Doll will be splitting his duties as principal at Clark with working at the district in the Career and Technical Education program.
Shopping for Back to School
By Ashley FILIPEK
It’s that time again. The first day of school is right around the corner, and that means back to school shopping. Of course, everyone needs new pencils, glue sticks, and notebooks, but what about the new and exciting products that are out right now? What are they and where can you get them? A lot of local stores, like Flintridge Bookstore and Office Depot, have exactly what students are looking for.
Phone cases. One of the things that has become so popular as a way to express individuality is the emergence of decorative phone cases. Flintridge Bookstore carries a multitude of options to pick from, such as metallics, classic book cover designs, and zipper-protected cases, ranging in price from $8 to $36.
Sticky notes. Sometimes all that is needed is just a cute, little piece of paper to write a note on. Sticky notes come in every color, lots of shapes, and some are printed with decorative designs. Using them can also make notes easier to read while highlighting important things to remember. Single notepads can cost as little as $1 and a multi-pack for around $15.99.
E-readers/tablets. With so many brands available, it can be hard to pick the right tablet. Luckily, Office Depot offers many of the popular brands including Nexus, Samsung, Nook and Kindle. Pricing starts around $179.99 and goes up depending on the brand, capabilities, and amount of memory the device holds.
Electronic dictionary bookmark. Flintridge Bookstore has seen great success with these handy tools that allow the user to type in words as they’re reading or writing and looking for a better understanding of the material. They run for $36.95.
USB drives. As more and more schools transition into the digital world, USB drives, or flash drives, have become a hot ticket item. Just like with phone cases, the trend of having decorative drives has become quite popular. They vary in price from $7.99 to $49.99, mainly dependent on how much data they hold.
Study guides. Whether taking some AP courses or preparing for the SATs, Flintridge Bookstore has all of the study guides a student might need. The guides start at $18.99.
Calculators. Necessary for those who are not a “numbers person,” and need something that lets them work out the numbers quickly. The sophistication of the calculator advances as the student does. Graphing calculators from Office Depot will cost between $89.99 to $159.99 and scientific calculators cost between $9.49 to $21.99.
Whether in the market for the latest toys or just needing an upgrade, shop local to cash in on all of the latest goodies for back to school.
Back to School dates are:
Rosemont Middle School Aug. 23 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Fremont Elementary Aug. 28 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Valley View Elementary Aug. 29 6:30p.m. – 7p.m. (k-3)
7:05 p.m. – 7:35 p.m.
Verdugo Woodlands Elementary Aug. 30 6:30 p.m.
Crescenta Valley High School Aug. 30 **6 p.m.
(classroom visits begin)
**Come early for Back to School barbecue supporting Prom Plus.
Mountain Avenue Elementary Sept. 5 6:30 p.m.
Dunsmore Avenue Elementary Sept. 6 6 p.m.
La Crescenta Elementary Sept. 6 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Lincoln Elementary Sept. 6 6:30 p.m.
Monte Vista Elementary Sept. 6 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Cloud Pre-School Sept. 12 6:15 p.m.-7 p.m.
College View School Sept. 13 5 p.m.
Clark Magnet High School Sept. 13 6:30 p.m.
Daily & Verdugo Academy Sept. 13 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
For more school calendar information, visit www.gusd.net