La Cañada Unified officials honor robotics team’s enterprise, prep for new school year

La Cañada Unified officials honor robotics team’s enterprise, prep for new school year
The LCHS Engineering Club was recognized Tuesday for participating in the FIRST World Championship robotics competition in Houston, where they received an entrepreneurship award for raising funds by hosting a communitywide electronics recycling program. (Photo by Sara Cardine)

With little more than a month before the new school year begins, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board got down to business Tuesday, taking a look at anticipated student enrollment and a slate of projects and plans for 2018-19.

The board also took a moment to congratulate members of La Cañada High School’s FIRST Robotics Team No. 2429 for winning a special entrepreneurship award at a world championship competition in Houston in April.


Enrollment figures solid, gains to be made

LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette provided a tentative update on district enrollment figures for the 2018-19 school year, saying that as of this week, the total student population is at 4,098 and more are likely to be enrolled before the school year begins Aug. 16. There were 4,126 students in the district this past school year.

“I anticipate we will meet or exceed our current enrollment,” Sinnette told the school board.


The district has so far registered 307 new resident students, 97 of whom will attend La Cañada Elementary, 78 Paradise Canyon Elementary and 71 Palm Crest Elementary. An additional 61 have signed up to attend La Cañada High 7-12.

The estimated population for LCHS 9-12 at this point is at 1,370, or 12 more students than last year, while LCE is at 639 students, PCY stands at 738 and PCR at 638 students. About 675 students are enrolled to attend middle school at LCHS 7/8.

Sinnette said 262 applications for transfers into the district have been received, with 175 acceptances granted so far. Among applicants, 66 students live in the Sagebrush area, while 24 are the children of district employees and 44 are siblings of current transfer students.

Another 128 students whose parents work in La Cañada at least 30 hours per week applied, Sinnette said, adding that updated figures will be reported at the board’s Aug. 7 meeting.

LCHS robotics team honored

La Cañada High School’s Engineering Club received certificates of recognition for participating in the FIRST World Championship robotics competition in Houston in April, where they received an entrepreneurship award for raising funds through a communitywide electronics recycling event.

At Tuesday’s meeting, school board members congratulated team members for a stellar season and thanked adviser and LCHS science teacher Steve Zimmerman for going above and beyond his regular duties to help make engineering come alive for students.

“Your commitment, time, dedication, care, intelligence and expertise are beyond the pale,” Sinnette said. “It’s exciting to hear what [the team’s] up to and the trails they’ll blaze.”

Zimmerman said the team will embark for another competition later this week, driving a roadworthy solar-powered car from Fort Worth, Texas, to Palmdale in a 10-day race as part of an annual Solar Car Challenge.

Parents, students request boys lacrosse team

In a public comment, parent Joleen O’Brien asked the school board for its support of an effort to create a boys lacrosse team at La Cañada High School. Although a girls team plays in the spring, there’s no team for boys interested in the sport.

“We believe that the high school boys team would be a great addition to the athletic program at the school,” said O’Brien, who helped form the nonprofit Friends of La Cañada Lacrosse to help raise funds for a team. “We also feel it would offer students a popular alternative to current sports and opportunities beyond high school.”

So far, the group’s biggest challenges have been fundraising and finding field space for practices. Parents have met with the city of La Cañada Flintridge and sports clubs like L.A. Premier to discuss field use options, O’Brien said, but actual negotiations would require endorsement by La Cañada High School and the district.

A team at LCHS 7/8 was started in the spring and has 32 boys on the roster, according to Kevin O’Brien. Half of those team members will move to high school in the fall, and interest for a boys team there is robust, he said.

Also Tuesday, board members:

— Welcomed the selection of La Cañada High School senior Andrew Kwon as the appointed student representative for 2018-19. A writer for LCHS’s newspaper, The Spartan, Kwon plays basketball and fantasy football, writes computer programs and participated in the Los Angeles Times’ High School Insider journalism project.

— Considered a new peer counseling course, Spartan Support, which will train students to act as mentors providing one-on-one support to fellow students and to promote wellness. Jim Cartnal, LCUSD’s executive director of pupils and personnel, said the course would be designed for students interested in exploring counseling-related careers.

— Approved a board policy that would create for the first time an external media release for parents to opt out of, in writing, if they wished. Chief Technology Officer Jamie Lewsadder said media outlets have until now relied on intradistrict releases that pertain to LCUSD using students names or images for its own purposes.