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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 1:01 pm | Fair 62º


Bill Macfadyen: Sam Wopat’s Death Hits Dos Pueblos High Community Hard

Best of Noozhawk 03.30.12 also highlights shoddy reporting, iPad academics, a bridge to somewhere and a Marathon Mom

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Former Dos Pueblos Volleyball Standout Samantha Wopat Dies

Samantha “Sam” Wopat was an up-and-coming member of Stanford University’s powerhouse women’s volleyball team.

She and her twin sister, Carly, were a package deal for the Cardinal and the smart, outgoing sophomores from Goleta looked to have the brightest of futures.

Tragedy struck March 17, however, and Wopat died a week later after an undisclosed medical emergency. She was just 19 years old.

The death was particularly painful for the Dos Pueblos High School community. The Wopat twins graduated from the school in 2010, their younger brothers are students there, and their mom, Kathy, is a popular math teacher on the campus. Their dad, Ron, is a math professor at SBCC.

Dos Pueblos High was on spring break this last week but grief counselors will be on campus Monday to help students and staff cope with the loss.

Among those grappling with the death are the young student journalists who, as members of The Charger Account staff, must report with care and maturity on an incident that, for many, is their first exposure to the passing of a friend. Trust me when I say that, even for those of us who have done it before, the task never gets easier. The Noozhawks will be visiting with The Charger Account team Wednesday to listen to their questions and discuss how to pursue stories no one wants to write.

The loss of a child has to be a family’s most dreaded fear, but the loss of a twin sibling must be particularly painful to the survivor. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Wopat family, and especially to young Carly.

A memorial to celebrate Wopat’s life will be scheduled at a later date but a memorial fund has been established in her name. Click here to make a memorial donation through the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club.

2. La Casa de la Raza Takes Issue with Newspaper Articles, Demands Retraction

Angry leaders of La Casa de la Raza on March 27 denounced two local newspapers and demanded they retract a pair of articles that they claim unfairly maligns the 40-year-old nonprofit organization.

As first reported by Noozhawk months ago, La Casa de la Raza owes Santa Barbara County tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes for the property it owns at 601 E. Montecito St. Officials of La Casa de la Raza and the county have been in ongoing talks about the situation and both sides expect a resolution soon.

The newspapers — the Santa Barbara News-Press and its apparent subsidiary, Santa Barbara Latino — did not respond to requests for comment.

3. iPads Giving Students, Teachers New Ways to Get in Touch with Lessons

A pilot program at Dos Pueblos High is incorporating iPads as a high-tech academic tool and the Santa Barbara Unified School District is looking to roll out the program to all of its campuses. Using iPads, Apple TV and flat-screen TVs, the innovative set-ups can help shave costs over time while incorporating more of the tools and gadgets that modern students are accustomed to using.

On March 26, Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli took a closer look at the program and the district’s plans — and challenges — and even included a video clip of Dos Pueblos High teacher Todd Ryckman, SBUSD’s technology strategist who is doing his part to bridge the digital divide.

4. Judge Approves Revised Ballot Arguments for Veronica Meadows Project

Santa Barbara voters in June will decide the fate of a proposed bridge to the Veronica Meadows housing project on Las Positas Road. Although the City Council has approved the 25-unit development across from Elings Park, the project’s bridge has proved to be a sticking point for site owner Mark Lee. On March 23, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna Geck approved a stipulated judgment revising ballot arguments for the election. Click here to read a full copy of the arguments.

5. Inspired by Ailing Daughter’s Plight, Marathon Mom Is Running with a Cause

We’ve written before about Sorel Kolendrianos, a beautiful 6-year-old who suffers from Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder of the nervous system. Sorel’s mom, Megan, has been training to run the April 16 Boston Marathon to raise awareness for the disorder, which appears almost exclusively in girls and leads to developmental reversals, especially in the areas of expressive language and hand use.

Noozhawk intern Alexa Shapiro caught up with Megan for an update and shared with readers that there are now promising disease-modifying therapies in development at Children’s Hospital Boston.

“This trial is giving families enormous hope for a brighter future,” Kolendrianos said.

Kolendrianos and her friend, Santa Barbara personal trainer Jenny Schatzle, will be running the marathon together. Click here to make an online donation through Crowdrise.

                                                                  •        •        •

It hasn’t quite reached Top 5 numbers but I’ve got to give a shout-out to Sloan Hanson, a 12-year-old Santa Barbara Junior High student who is on a spring break of a lifetime with his Santa Barbara Soccer Club team. Sloan and his mates are in England to train with some of the U.K.‘s top professional football development teams and junior clubs. In his spare time, Sloan has been writing some very enjoyable accounts of his experience. If you haven’t read them, you’re missing a treat. And, as any of my friends will readily tell you, I don’t even like soccer!

                                                                  •        •        •

Noozhawk was launched in 2007 to provide Santa Barbara County with a fresh, trusted source for local news. Every day, our experienced staff of professional journalists provides unmatched breaking news and in-depth reporting on the issues that matter to our community. You can come to us on the Web or we’ll go to you and your inbox, at 4:15 a.m. daily.

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