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Bill Macfadyen: Mountain View School 6th-Graders Look Back, and Forward

Best of Noozhawk 06.01.12 says goodbye to Sam Wopat, a wedding guest and a Navy hero, then pivots to the dark side

For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of participating in Mountain View School’s sixth-grade exit interviews. In an hour-long conference, adults from outside the campus community sit down with two to three students each and discuss the kids’ educational growth and experience, as well as what they’ve learned about themselves during their academic careers.

It’s a tremendously rewarding experience, and this year Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dave Cash and District Attorney Joyce Dudley were among those who participated in interviews at the Goleta Union School District campus at 5465 Queen Ann Lane.

My two students — Sean Hopkins and Max Rouhas — were delightful to talk with, and perfectly comfortable discussing their triumphs, favorite memories, challenges and even shortcomings. They were understandably proud of their accomplishments at Mountain View and eagerly looking forward to life in junior high school — even though one of them is facing the prospect of moving out of state this summer. Their excited stories about the school’s Ancient Days Festival, CIMI (Catalina Island Marine Institute), Greek mythology, math, earth science, poetry and newly learned study skills made our 60 minutes seem more like six.

I want to thank Principal Ned Schoenwetter for the invitation. And to Mountain View School’s Class of 2012, congratulations and best wishes on the brightest of futures.

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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. With Heavy Hearts and Fond Memories, Family and Friends of Sam Wopat Say Goodbye

Several hundred people gathered at Santa Barbara’s East Beach on May 24 to share their memories of Samantha “Sam” Wopat and to embrace her grieving family.

Wopat, a 19-year-old Stanford University sophomore, died March 25 from an undisclosed medical emergency.

She and her twin sister, Carly, a fellow star of the Stanford volleyball team, were popular students at Dos Pueblos High School, where their mom, Kathy, teaches math. They were also longtime standouts of Santa Barbara’s powerhouse club volleyball scene.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper captured the mood of the memorial service, which she described as a “sweet spirit of support for the family.”

“We’re here to remind them that though they are strong, they don’t have to be strong all the time,” family friend Jim Pearson, who had known Wopat since she was a Kellogg School second-grader, said of the Wopats. “They don’t stand alone.”

In addition to her twin, Wopat is survived by her parents, Kathy and Ron Wopat, and younger brothers Jackson and Eli.

2. Police Release ID of Pedestrian Killed on East Cabrillo Boulevard

A Merced County woman in Santa Barbara for a wedding was struck by a car and killed the evening of May 27 as she crossed East Cabrillo Boulevard.

Authorities say Silvia Rodriguez Diaz, 53, of Gustine, was crossing the street outside of the crosswalk when she was hit by a car driven by Robert Grant McCracken, 22, of Santa Barbara. Police Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman, said McCracken told officers he had been drinking before the collision, but police determined he had not been driving under the influence. McCracken voluntarily provided a breath sample that registered a 0.03 blood-alcohol content level. He was not arrested.

Incredibly, as officers were investigating the fatal collision, an unlicensed driver crashed through the police barricades and was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

3. With Death of Navy Ace Bill Davis, Santa Barbara Loses a Genuine War Hero

Decorated World War II Navy aviator Bill Davis was among those who were remembered during Memorial Day ceremonies May 28 in Santa Barbara.

Davis, who died the week before at age 91, was credited with the Oct. 25, 1944, sinking of the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, the last Japanese carrier remaining from the Imperial Fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor and forced the U.S. entry into World War II. The pilot of a Grumman F6F Hellcat, Davis was part of a carrier-based squadron that reportedly shot down 155 enemy planes, while losing only two of their own.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton put together a nice tribute article about the Navy ace, who wrote his own book about his war experiences: Sinking the Rising Sun: Dog Fighting & Dive Bombing in World War II.

4. Local Law Enforcement Wary After Florida Face-Eating Attack

On the list of things we worry about, cannibalism just isn’t one of them. But a gruesome attack in Miami last weekend has raised the awareness of a dangerous new drug cocktail known as “bath salts” — synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood says synthetic drugs have not factored prominently in local incidents, but they’re enough of a concern that law enforcement agencies are training officers to detect and combat them. The emerging drugs are inexpensive and undetectable in over-the-counter drug tests.

“It’s pretty frightening,” Harwood told Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli. “It is something we’re aware of and concerned about.”

The Ventura Police Department warned that school resource officers have seen an increase in incidents of people possessing synthetic drugs.

While bath salts are meant to mimic the effects of hallucinogens or stimulants such as meth, K2/Spice products are synthetic marijuana made of herbs sprayed with a variety of chemicals meant to mimic THC, the active ingredient in pot.

The Drug Enforcement Administration last year categorized five chemicals used in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I substances, along with three of the chemicals used in bath salts. The designation makes the chemicals and the products containing them illegal.

Click here for more information and resources in Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series.

5. Attorney Barry Cappello Sues Santa Barbara News-Press Entities Over Unpaid Fees

Finally, there’s the enduring punchline that is the Santa Barbara News-Press. Need I say more?

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