Mountain View School keeps inviting me back to participate in its sixth-grade exit interviews, and each year I’m ever-more amazed at the caliber of students I get to meet. It’s not that the kids are all brainiacs or over-achievers Some are and some aren’t. It’s not that they’re already jocks or accomplished musicians. Ditto.
What I find most impressive is how confident and self-possessed they are. It’s a credit to their parents and to their teachers that they’re so comfortable talking about what they accomplished during their years on campus, what excites them, what doesn’t, how they handle adversity, and what they learned about themselves in the process.
This year I had the privilege of spending an hour with three adorable and delightful youngsters, Luke, Nathan and Summer. They proudly showed off their portfolios while sharing their reflections on their academic careers. They were quick to praise their teachers — especially sixth-grade teachers Nate Latta and Melissa Wilson — and careful to work in all of their talking points.
All three candidly acknowledged that they struggle with time management and organization. Having had three sixth-graders of my own, I can relate. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that many of us have the same issues as adults, but we did talk about that being the point of many of this year’s lessons and projects.
Public education often seems to be under siege these days. It’s encouraging to me that kids like Luke, Nathan and Summer are succeeding regardless. They’re something we can all celebrate.
Congratulations to the Mountain View School Cougars’ Class of 2013. Best wishes in junior high!
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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?
Like most Californians, Santa Barbara County residents have a heightened awareness of — and interest in — wildfires. They’re reliably big traffic generators, and the White Fire that ignited on Memorial Day was no exception.
The fire was reported about 2:30 p.m. May 27 along Paradise Road in the Upper Santa Ynez Valley. Whipped up by winds, the flames quickly spread to 1,800 acres and forced the evacuations of rural residents as well as day-use areas and campgrounds that were packed for the holiday weekend.
With thick smoke pouring over the mountains and into Santa Barbara, and with ash raining as far away as Montecito, the visuals evoked memories of the Gap, Jesusita and Tea fires that played out with such destructive force not that long ago — and in plain view of the South Coast.
But the next day brought a change in the weather, giving firefighters the break they needed to gain the upper hand. Three days later, they had reached full containment of the blaze, which had grown to 1,984 acres by the end.
Authorities estimated the cost of fighting the fire at $2.89 million. There were no injuries but a U.S. Forest Service Hotshots barracks at the Los Prietos Ranger Station compound was damaged and two vehicles were burned.
Officials said Friday that the wildfire was caused by a legal cooking fire that went out of control. The blaze was ruled an accident and no charges will be filed.
Two Canadian tourists were seriously injured the afternoon of May 29 when the motorcycle they were riding was struck head-on by an SUV on Old Coast Highway adjacent to Montecito Country Club. The driver of the Toyota 4Runner — Martin Maguire, 51, of Montecito — was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
According to Santa Barbara police Officer Jaycee Hunter, James Atwood, 63, and his wife, Ellen, 59, of Orangeville in Ontario, Canada, were following another couple from Ontario westbound on Old Coast Highway around 5:30 p.m. Hunter said the eastbound Toyota crossed over the center line, narrowly missed the first motorcycle and slammed head-on into the Atwoods.
Authorities say both victims are expected to survive, but they have very severe injuries to their left legs. One witness, an Army soldier just home from Afghanistan, was credited with saving the life of one of the victims by quickly applying a tourniquet to stop the massive bleeding.
Hunter said Maguire was arrested at the scene on felony DUI charges. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $100,000.
“It’s a horrible thing,” Hunter told Noozhawk’s Gina Potthoff. “Just two couples out having fun, and the day ended in a horrific manner.”
As of May 31, there were no details on whether a fund had been established to assist the Atwoods with their medical expenses and care.
A 4.8-magnitude earthquake shook up the South Coast on the morning of May 29, but caused no damage or injuries.
The quake struck at 7:38 a.m., in the ocean about three miles west of Isla Vista — roughly off the coast where Bacara Resort & Spa sits. That’s where executive editor Tom Bolton, reporter Giana Magnoli and I were sitting down to breakfast with 422 of our closest friends for the annual Santa Barbara Partners in Education Student Awards.
It was the pre-quake rumble that seemed to set this one apart. It was loud and it was long, and it seemed to be clawing its way out of the depths. As soon as the roar subsided, the swaying and shaking started, and that’s when everyone recognized it for what it was. There was no panic; everyone quietly, if somewhat reluctantly, left the ballroom until the all-clear was given about 15 minutes later.
“It really is the perfect earthquake,” he told Giana. “It’s big enough to rattle and remind people we live in earthquake country, but there was no damage or injuries.”
Giana, who rode out the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake as a youngster in San Jose in 1989, certainly wasn’t rattled. She calmly conducted her quake interviews and then went back inside to finish reporting on the Partners in Education breakfast.
The body of a 57-year-old man was discovered just off the bike path near Santa Barbara’s iconic Dolphin Fountain early on the morning of May 28. Police Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper that there were no signs of foul play. The man’s name is being withheld until his next of kin have been notified.
After a stint in prison, Robert Gutierrez turned his life around. He graduated May 24 from Santa Barbara City College with associate’s degrees in chemistry, mathematics and physics, and was asked to be the keynote speaker at commencement. This fall, he’ll be headed off to a prestigious university in pursuit of the degrees he needs to fulfill his dream of becoming a bioengineering researcher.
Our Lara Cooper’s poignant profile of the 30-year-old Santa Barbara resident struck a chord with readers. Not only did Gutierrez have the discipline and perseverance needed to overcome the challenges in his life, he had the vision of where he wanted to go and he looked for the right opportunities. It’s a lesson he thinks other first-generation Mexican-Americans need to heed.
“We hold ourselves back,” he said. “If you asked me in 2000 that I would be here, I never would have believed you.”
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Nature seems to have been a recurring theme this week. In case you haven’t gotten your fill … neither has this dog.
(Doug Burg video)
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.