By Julie BUTCHER
Dozens of football Falcons, players from Crescenta Valley High School, along with community leaders, cheerleaders, parents of athletes, and several past principals all showed up for Tuesday’s Glendale Unified School District board meeting to push for permanent lights and seating at the high school.
Ken Biermann, former CVHS principal, shared background color.
“When the school was converted from Clark Junior High, 57 years ago, the District promised high school facilities for us, way back then,” Biermann recalled his conversations with the school’s first principal, Dr. Bill Thomas. “It’s time to do this, now, finally. Every other high school in the Foothill Corridor has a decent home field: Glendale has a stadium, Hoover, Verdugo, St. Francis. I’m hearing from parents who remember this fight from when they were students. It’s time.”
Coach John Nelson estimates the cost of installing permanent field seating and lighting between $2 and $2.5 million.
Cheer Co-Captain Cassidy Phillips attended the meeting to support the effort to secure permanent lighting and bleachers for her school.
“For every game, in every sport, we need at least three buses to go to our own home games,” the CVHS cheerleader explained. “That’s a bus for the band, for the team, for the cheer squad. And we never really get to enjoy actual home games.”
Squad Co-Captain Yunah Seo added, “It would be better for us as students and for our families to be able to attend events and games [at our own school]. More people would come if they could walk or drive to our school instead of having to drive to Glendale. Plus, we’d have space for other activities.”
The school board heard testimony from representatives of the school and community supporting the effort. Student body president Joe Suh took the podium, surrounded by the school’s football team leaders and players.
“Every year the ASB spends $12,000 for graduation expenses and this expense is bound to keep going up,” Suh said. He asked the board to “support permanent seats and stands and updated lighting.”
Alex Stupakis addressed the board as a neighbor.
“Some might think this would be of concern to the immediate neighbors – [more] traffic, more lights, all that. But as someone who lives less than half a block from the school, I’m here to say that the positives outweigh the negatives. I welcome lights and seats for our field.”
Stupakis urged the board to act. “The field will be magically transformed for our young people into a field of dreams, a field of community unity, for everyone to enjoy together, a stronger, more unified school district. Perhaps an even more ‘unified’ Glendale School District.”
Steve Pierce spoke on behalf of the communities of the Crescenta Valley.
“As a 53-year resident of La Crescenta, I stand in strong support of this move. It is time to do this. Every day, I see the incredible use the field gets and I know many come from outside our area to walk, to run, to enjoy our facilities. Thanks to those who have gotten the field safe and open for events such as our annual fireworks show where more than 5,000 come out – they’d certainly show up earlier for the music and food before the fireworks show if there was seating! How great would it be if CVHS could be used as a practice field for the 2028 Olympics? Let’s do this for the kids. Let’s do this now.”
CVHS Pep Squad head coach and alum Christine Bircher spoke in support of the effort during the board’s public comment period, backed by the school’s cheer captains Jade Winicki, Cassidy Phillips and Yunah Seo.
Retired CVHS principal Linda Evans presented the board with a letter of support from former principals and offered some history of her own
“The question we repeatedly ask ourselves is how do you transform a middle school campus of 18 acres into a high school facility serving 2,700 students? The recommended acreage for a high school is 50 acres. Since Clark Junior High School became Crescenta Valley High School in the early ’60s, the problem we have never been able to solve is the size of the campus. Measure K enabled us to build a high school gym that seats 1,400. By building two three-story classroom buildings, we made better use of our limited land and, instead of many bungalow classrooms scattered about, we built a softball field.”
Evans continued, “The problems caused by the one full-sized field with three football teams, a marching band, boys and girls soccer teams, a lacrosse program, track and field, evening club soccer, youth track and field, plus five periods of PE involve complicated scheduling, but with the help of the non-profit organization CV CAN, we were able to self-fund artificial turf which solved the safety issue.”
“Today, we come to talk to you about installing permanent stands to seat approximately 1,400 on the north side of the track (the south side is the 210 Freeway) and upgrading the lighting so we can safely use the facility in the evening to host athletic and community events. Today, we have the opportunity to continue the transformation of Crescenta Valley High School, a school that is repeatedly honored for its academic programs, its arts program, its science and medicine academy, its robotics program, and its athletic program, into a true high school facility, where you don’t need to bring a lawn chair to watch a soccer game, leave the Valley to attend a home football game, or strain to make out the runners on the last event of a 4-by-400 relay as they disappear on the east curve into the ever-encroaching darkness. Permanent stands and upgraded lighting get us closer to the goal – Crescenta Valley High School, a high school facility.”
No one spoke against the proposal. Proponents vow to return to address the board at every meeting until the item is calendared and addressed.