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Young ‘Car Valets’ Sweeten Traffic Jam at Victor Elementary

VICTOR VALETS: The morning drop-off ritual at Victor Elementary School has long been known for its logjams of honking cars, frustrated parents and nervous children darting through the traffic on foot.

Principal Janice Shultz has come up with a solution: She has signed up volunteer valets.

The Victor valets, eight enthusiastic fifth-graders, begin their shifts at 8:15 a.m. They stand along the curb of the horseshoe-shaped driveway, about 30 feet apart. As the parents stop at different points, one of the student valets opens the front and back doors, says “good morning,” and helps the children out of the cars.

The valets then wave the drivers on, keeping the traffic--a few hundred cars each morning--flowing smoothly.

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Schultz, formerly a principal at Arnold Elementary School in Torrance, said she had tried the valet service there with good results.

The valets say they don’t mind waking up a little earlier to do their job.

“This is fun,” said valet Lee Ann Cendrowski.

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WEST TO NEW YORK: They made it to Broadway.

Torrance’s West High School marching band and drill team will march down Broadway on Nov. 25 in the 50th Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York.

The Warriors beat out 800 high school bands nationwide, and will be one of nine high school bands to march in the parade.

Band director Jim Banim said the Warriors caught the attention of Macy’s officials when they marched in the 1992 Rose Parade.

“They called us and said they wanted us,” he said.

However, the band had already planned a trip to Europe in November of that year, and had to turn Macy’s down. So the school asked if the West High band could march in the 1993 parade and was told it could.

Said Banim: “It’s unprecedented for the committee to extend an invitation a year in advance.”

The 165 band members and their 35 chaperons will leave Torrance a week before the parade to sight-see in Washington and Philadelphia. In New York, they will see a Broadway play, visit Radio City Music Hall and take part in an Artist in Residence program at Lincoln Center.

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The students held fund-raisers to buy new uniforms. Meanwhile, their parents are footing the bill for the New York trip.

Banim said the group is working hard preparing for the Macy’s parade. The band, which includes a drill team and a tall-flag unit, practices an hour before classes and an hour after school. Weekend rehearsals are also scheduled.

“It’s a big honor,” said Jacki Marzano, a 14-year-old sophomore at West High who says she has never been to New York. “We’re working really hard.”

The band is scheduled to perform at the eighth annual High School Field Show Tournament at El Camino College on Saturday, Oct. 9, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $2.50 for students.

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PARTNERS: The Hawthorne School District and Hughes Aircraft’s Electro-Optical System division this week signed a partnership agreement during a ceremony attended by district officials and Hughes employees.

The aerospace corporation has already embarked on a number of partnerships with local schools. Ultimately, each Hughes division will pair up with a school district, sending company employees and retirees to help teachers devise math and science lessons.

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The aerospace company will also refurbish computers that in the past would have been discarded, and donate them to the Hawthorne schools. Bernie Skehan, a vice president of the Electro-Optical Systems division, said Hughes and other companies plan to use educational partnerships to help develop a more diverse work force.

“In the past, the number of minorities going into these fields has been small, and it’s due to the neglect of industry,” he said.

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BETTER GRADE: The 26,000 California high school seniors who took the American College Test (ACT) scored higher than last year’s seniors and above the national average, reported the state Department of Education.

The 1993 average ACT score for California students was 21.3, above the national average of 20.7. Last year, California’s average score was 21.2. Since 1989, the state’s scores have increased by seven percentage points.

The ACT scores range from 1 to 36. Students are tested in math, English, reading and science. The ACT is one of the nation’s main college entrance exams.

Items for the weekly Class Notes column can be mailed to the Times South Bay office, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 200, Torrance 90505, or faxed to (310) 373-5753 to the attention of staff writer Carol Chastang.


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