Page 1

april 2012



Eastlake Little League

Begins Page 6

Step Up & Make a

Difference Local Residents Who Are Giving Back

Business highlight: casey family programs resident spotlight: the lappin Family

april 2012


local getaways


from the editor... Anniversaries are special times. They mark more than simply the passing of time. Oftentimes, anniversaries signify a high level of commitment and determination. Whether you are talking about individuals or organizations, successfully reaching annual milestones should be celebrated. Here at My Hometown Chula Vista and the Fountain Media Group, we are very proud to have reached our four-year anniversary of bringing to our hometown its community publication. While some might have thought we would have run out of positive stories to focus on by now, we are confident we have only just scratched the surface on the many great stories to feature in our community publication. Each month we receive emails and phone calls from local residents, businesses, schools and organizations eager to share their good-news story ideas and events with us – exactly what we hoped would happen when we began this venture in 2008. It has become our custom with our anniversary issue to turn the spotlight on several in our local community who are finding ways to give back and make a difference. In 2010, we spotlighted a husband and father who rode across country raising funds and awareness about Huntington’s Disease. Last year, we wrote about three different groups of people who embody the spirit of community and were doing their part to make things better for others. Our feature this month highlights the continued good work of the EastLake Educational Foundation and the difference it makes in the lives of our students. We also had the pleasure of interviewing the School Resource Officers with the Chula Vista Police Department who initiated a shoe and sock drive that benefitted more than 400 children in the South Bay. Even our On Topic piece provides a great example of how you don’t have to be rich, famous or even an adult to be a role model and do something to positively impact local, national or even international issues. As we enter our fifth year of publishing a community magazine dedicated to the best Chula Vista has to offer, we invite you to participate. Join your neighbors, friends and colleagues and share a story idea, nominate a family to be our next featured family or advertise your local business. However you see fit, celebrate what you like best about our hometown with us. Michael Minjares, Editor of My Hometown


april 2012

What’s inside


Step Up & Make a

Difference Page 12

community news Eastlake Little League Begins Season


New State-of-the-Art Chula Vista Branch Library


New Exhibit at CV Nature Center


on topic Kids 4 Our World Gives Back to Better Our World


community calendar 22

Local Events and Activities

resident spotlight 23

The Lappin Family

school news Sheriff Department Showcases Robots for Liberty Students


business highlight Casey Family Programs

26 april 2012 my hometown 3



Look what great things your community is up to...

To Eastlake High School students Leah Anderson and Brandon Okano, seniors at Eastlake High School. The two talented local musicians were selected to the California All-State Honor Symphony Orchestra and All-State Honor Symphonic Band, respectively. They are the only students from the SUHSD district selected through a rigorous all state audition process. To former educator William Virchis as the Sweetwater Union High School District recently announced the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Department will now be known as the “William Virchis Visual and Performing Arts Department.” This marks the first time a curriculum and district department has been named after an individual. Virchis was the founding Director of the internationally known Visual and Performing Arts Department. In his tenure, Virchis and his staff oversaw and organized the largest mariachi and folklorico program in the nation. To the Arroyo Vista Coyote Bots Robotics team on being invited to compete in the First Lego League North American Open Championship. The Project Presentation Award winners at the Southern California Championships, Coyote Bots is the only FLL robotics team in all of South San Diego County to move on to this international competition. The EastLake Educational Foundation sponsors the team.

To Otay Ranch junior Alfredo Espinoza on being named a High School Athlete of the Month by the U-T San Diego. Espinoza, one of the top wrestlers in the county, had an unbeaten 42-0 record heading into the State Championships in Bakersfield. He earned the section Masters title at 106 pounds with a two-point takedown with time running out in the match. To Fred Lee, music director at Rancho del Rey Middle, on being recognized with the 2012 State Outstanding Jazz Educator Award by the California Association for Music Education. Lee, who has worked at Sweetwater Schools for 21 years, was honored for his exceptional teaching and work with student music ensembles. Under his direction, Lee’s student groups have performed at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm. In 2003, his students were invited to perform at the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival. To all of the students who participated in the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s Speech Contest sponsored by the Chula Vista Rotary Club. The finals took place on February 27 where the top six competitors in each grade level presented their speeches for a shot at the top prize. Congratulations to sixth grade champion Miguel Aldrete (Discovery Charter), fifth grade winner Liam Galleher (Chula Vista Learning Community Charter) and fourth grade titlist Brenna Pangelinan (Olympic View). To view a list of all of the finalists check out http://chulavistaesd.

If you would like to contribute to Bravo, send a quick note to My Hometown’s editor at and we’ll do our best to put your good-news announcement in an upcoming issue. Submissions should be sent by the 10th of the month. Published by Fountain Media Group, Inc 1501 San Elijo Rd, Suite 104-202 San Marcos, CA 92078 (800) 497-1309 x701

4 my hometown april 2012

Publisher Tim Minjares

Editorial Mike Minjares

Sales Melissa Granados

Production AJ Moreno

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in whole or part, without written permission is prohibited. Fountain Media Group, Inc. is not responsible for the views of contributing writers and assumes no responsibility for errors appearing within. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Publisher or advertisers.

on your doorstep Cycle EastLake! Returns – Get Out and Ride

Princess Tea with the Chula Vista Ballet

It’s tea time in EastLake! Cycle EastLake!, an annual tradition for many local The Queen of Hearts invites residents, returns to east Chula Vista roadways on you and your friends to join Saturday, April 28 at the Otay Ranch Town Center. With The Chula Vista Ballet for 100K, 25-mile and 18-mile rides available, participants their 3rd Annual Princess have several choices to fit their experience and fitness Fundraising Tea, hosted by level. In addition, a The Mad Hatter. Guests will free Family Fun Run be treated to live performances from Fairy Tale Ballets – perfect for joggers, while they sip tea and lemonade and enjoy scrumptious walkers and doggies deserts. All proceeds benefit the Chula Vista Ballet. The too – ensures that event takes place April 22, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the EastLake evenCycle the youngest Eastlake High School Theater. The cost is $25 for adults Benefitting The EastLake Educational Foundation community members and $10 for children 12 and under. Children are invited Saturday, April 28, 2012 have an opportunity 100K Cycling Tour to participate in the fun by wearing their favorite princess 25 Mile Marty Garcia Memorial Ride to participate in this costume or dress. For tickets, please contact The Chula 18 Mile Mountain Bike & Poker Ride wonderful (Prizes at the local end of theevent ride for the best hands) Vista Ballet at (619) 585-1133. The Chula Vista Ballet – First Event benefitting theBegins six at 7:30am Bringing Art to your life! Located at the Otay Ranch Town Center 2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista, 91915 EastLake schools Register Onlineby Nowthe at supported For more information, contact EastLake Educational Nicole Graichen at 619-997-6470 or Foundation. Olympian High Eagles Soar in 2012 Event Sponsors Adult entries for Academic Decathlon Cycle EastLake! run April 28 $55, while youth 12 For the third year in a row, outstanding students from Otay Ranch Town Center and under can ride 2012 Event Partners: South Bay Family YMCA, City of Chula Vista, Computers 2 SD Kids Olympian High School beat out teams from across the for $45. All registered county to defend their title as champions of the San Cycle EastLake! parDiego Academic Decathlon. The high-flying Eagles conticipants receive a colorful commemorative t-shirt, goodie quered 16 other high schools, public and private, in the bag and refreshments at the finish line. Pre-registered contest held February 4. Family Fun Run participants will receive a Fun Run Academic teams from t-shirt. seven other Sweetwater Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 100K District schools also placed Cycle Tour starting at 7:30 a.m. The 25-mile Marty in the top 10: Hilltop High— Garcia Memorial Ride begins at 8:00, while the 18-mile 2nd; Sweetwater High—3rd; Mountain Bike and Poker Ride sets off at 8:30 a.m. San Ysidro High—4th; Otay Following the Family Fun Run, which begins at 9:30, the Ranch High—6th; Castle Otay Ranch Town Center parking lot will be home to the Park High—7th; Southwest YMCA Healthy Kids Day & City of Chula Vista Go Green High—8th; and Montgomery and Clean Family Day. The event, which is scheduled to High—10th. run from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., will include a bounce “The tremendous performance of Sweetwater students house for kids, youth fitness demos, opportunity drawin the Academic Decathlon is a clear demonstration of the ings, family activities, more than 75 information booths academic excellence being produced in our schools,” said and entertainment. Sweetwater Board President Pearl Quiñones. To view more information or to register for Cycle The Olympian High team was coached by teacher EastLake, visit the EastLake Educational Foundation webKen Boulton who previously coached Southwest High to site at Participants in the Family Fun five consecutive wins between 2003 and 2007 before Run can register through the South Bay Family YMCA at taking charge of the Olympian team in 2010. With the win, Olympian High earned the right to represent San

e C o m e Rt hi dU s! Wi

Diego County in the California Academic Decathlon Championship held March 15 to 18 in Sacramento.

april 2012 my hometown 5

on your doorstep

Eastlake Little League Begins Season By Edgardo Salazar Eastlake Little League held its grand opening ceremony on Friday March 2. Volunteers and vendors set up early so that by 5:00 p.m. the entire ELL community was buzzing with excitement. Teams and coaches

gathered around the majors’ field and proudly held their banners before a clapping audience of family, friends and teammates. The wonderful night was honored with the presence of local celebrities like Frankie J who

sang the National Anthem. In addition, a DJ, music, the Swinging Friar and a rep from the Pad Squad added to the fun. At about 5:10, Eastlake Little League President, Randy Akins, introduced master of ceremonies Joe Little from KGTV 10 News who introduced this year’s Board of Directors, coaches, announced each team and introduced local dignitaries who congratulated and encouraged the league. Mayor Cheryl Cox and Tom Garfinkel, COO of the San Diego Padres, were also on hand to join the festivities. ELL President Akins presented a recognition plaque to former ELL President Denise Stephens. The young players in T-ball through Minor A looked great in their different era Padre uniforms, which were donated by the San Diego Padres.

Garfinkel, along with the entire ELL community, were so impressed to see that each jersey had “Padres” across the chest. Overall, four different divisions participated in the opening ceremonies. The highlight of the evening was the first pitch of the season thrown by various division players, including the Challenger Division representatives, a division for children with special needs. The festivities continued on past 8:00 p.m. with lots of fun-filled activities including carnival games, Gamez on Wheelz, face painting, a balloon artist, a jumpy obstacle course and even a laser tag game on the Minor B field. Several vendors served dinner. Overall, it was a splendid night that all attendees enjoyed.

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on your doorstep Eastlake Youth Football & Cheer Registration Open Registration for Eastlake Youth Football and Cheer 2012, the 2011 Jr. Pee Wee San Diego County champions, is now open. Participants are encouraged to attend one of the open registration events on Sunday, April 15 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, April 29 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 6 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.; or Wednesday, May 9 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. All registration sessions take place at Eastlake High School. Visit the organization’s website at for registration requirements.

Day of the Child Community Fair – April 21  The 12th Annual Day of the Child Community Fun Fair will be held Saturday, April 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Memorial Park on Third Avenue and Park Way. In collaboration with other community-based organizations and business sponsors, the Chula Vista Community Collaborative presents the event in an effort to provide a day of fun for children and their families, by promoting a safer and healthier environment and encouraging family and community togetherness and wellness. The free event includes more than 100 informational and interactive booths and fun activities such as face painting, dance contests, magic show, story time, games, entertainment and much more. The entire Chula Vista community is invited to join in the fun. For more information visit



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on your doorstep

State-of-the-Art Chula Vista Branch Library to Open at Otay Ranch Town Center Construction is almost finished and soon the books and computers will be moving in. The new Otay Ranch Branch of the Chula Vista Library at Otay Ranch Town Center is set to open on Saturday, April 14 at noon. This innovative partnership between the City of Chula Vista and Otay Ranch Town Center provides the residents of Eastern Chula Vista with a much-needed library location and is the only full-service public library located in a regional shopping center anywhere in California. Centrally located in the middle of this popular retail and entertainment destination, the new branch library also features free Wi-Fi that extends into the nearby Food Pavilion and beyond, providing even greater amenities for visitors.

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8 my hometown april 2012

“This new branch library is truly designed for the 21st century, with high-end features, modular work areas, colorful décor, self check out and a large collection of e-books,” said Betty Waznis, director of the Chula Vista Public Library. The library space offers a large amount of natural light with bright windows across the entire front wall and low-profile shelves, creating an open feel. The Otay Ranch Branch of the Chula Vista Library will receive daily deliveries from other branches in the system to accommodate special requests or school needs. The popular “Book Club in a Box” program will also be implemented at the new location, which offers users 6-10 copies of a popular book, along with a reading guide and information about the author – perfect to start your own book club. Led by project architect Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, Inc., three previous retail spaces were combined to create the new branch, encompassing some 3,500 square feet. This compact footprint will permit the space to be staffed on a single-shift basis, five days a week, for approximately 35 hours per week. Library hours will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. “We are excited and proud to partner with the City of Chula Vista on this unique library concept,” said Tim Colby, senior general manager at Otay Ranch Town Center. “Our entire team

and all the retailers at the center have been eagerly anticipating the branch opening and welcoming an entirely new group of visitors to Otay Ranch Town Center.” Residents can enjoy two weekly story times at the new branch library, including an evening “pajama” story time, perfect for a pre-bedtime session for children. After-school homework sessions will also be available with times posted near the main entrance. “We invite the public to be ready for the grand opening by getting their

free library cards ahead of time,” added Waznis. Through a cooperative effort with the Chula Vista Police Department, library cards will be available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Otay Ranch Police Storefront. A complete rundown of all festivities and events scheduled for opening day will be posted on the Otay Ranch Town Center Facebook page and on the library’s website Interested residents are encouraged to “like” Otay Ranch Town Center, The Chula Vista Public Library and the City of Chula Vista on Facebook to get the latest news. my.

on your doorstep

Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life & Art Lands at the Chula Vista Nature Center The Chula Vista Nature Center has become the first Southern California venue to host Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life & Art. The nationally acclaimed community environmental art project, now on exhibit through Sept. 3, aims to bring awareness to the global crisis of plastic ocean pollution through beautiful, thoughtprovoking and interactive art pieces. The vision of Oregon-based artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore turns the ugly reality of plastic ocean trash into massive sculptures depicting marine wildlife, inspiring audiences to rethink their use of “disposable” plastics. For over 30 years, Pozzi has been an active arts educator and exhibiting artist with work centered on the ocean. Pozzi has always felt a deep personal connection to the ocean and after the loss of her husband to cancer in 2004, the natural beauty of the Oregon coastline is where she turned for sanctuary. To her horror, Pozzi discovered the pristine beaches of her childhood had become cluttered with plastic pollution. “I came to the ocean to heal, but found an ocean that needed healing,” said Pozzi. With her mind opened to the problem of ocean pollution, she began researching the impact of plastics on ocean habitats and was devastated by the animal suffering caused by humans’ actions. She was inspired to turn her talent for creating sea-inspired, mixed-media sculptures into a series of new, largescale, inspirational art pieces to bring awareness to the plight of ocean pollution. Washed Ashore was born.

Washed Ashore includes 17 original art pieces made entirely from thousands of pounds of plastic debris collected along Oregon beaches, with the only exception being the connecting wire and metal framework materials. Hundreds of community volunteers participated in the beach clean-ups and worked with the artist to bring the Washed Ashore pieces to life. Some of the non-biodegradable plastic items used include plastic

rope and netting, flip-flop sandals, sand toys, balls, Frisbees, cigarette lighters, toothbrushes and more. “For nearly a quarter-century, we have been educating the community about the importance of coastal wildlife conservation,” said Chula Vista Nature Center Executive Director Brian Joseph, DVM. “We know that in order to truly make a lasting impact, we need to touch hearts, not just minds. Hands-on, interactive art exhibits like Washed Ashore are extremely powerful in making that emotional connection between human choices and animal welfare, enabling us to foster a new generation of environmental champions.”

The exhibit, sponsored in part by the Unified Port of San Diego, is being rolled out in three phases at the Chula Vista Nature Center. Phase One of the project, which includes 11 art pieces, is now on display and features the 12-foot “Henry the Fish” welcoming guests at the Nature Center’s entrance, a massive suspended Jelly made from plastic water bottles, a whale-bone rib cage guests can walk through, Styrofoam coral reefs, and a giant Sea Turtle named “Tula” made from a plastic garbage can lid and netting that traps and kills these endangered creatures. Phase Two of Washed Ashore will include a public grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 28, followed by a cross-border teacher workshop on Monday, April 30, which will provide instruction and resources in both English and Spanish to help local teachers explore ocean ecology and human impact as seen through the marine debris crisis. Phase Three of Washed Ashore will include a community art workshop with the artist, as well as the installation of another massive art sculpture called “Oil Spill.” Made from black plastic and brown bottles, the sculpture highlights the fact that petroleum-based marine debris is an oil spill of even greater magnitude and urges a rethinking of consumers’ daily habits. More information about Washed Ashore and its lead artist, Angela Haseltine Pozzi, is available at my.

april 2012 my hometown 9

e d i R e m o C With Us! Cycle EastLake

Benefitting The EastLake Educational Foundation

Saturday, April 28, 2012 100K Cycling Tour 25 Mile Marty Garcia Memorial Ride 18 Mile Mountain Bike & Poker Ride

(Prizes at the end of the ride for the best hands)

First Event Begins at 7:30am Located at the Otay Ranch Town Center 2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista, 91915

Register Online Now at

For more information, contact Nicole Graichen at 619-997-6470 or 2012 Event Sponsors

2012 Event Partners: South Bay Family YMCA, City of Chula Vista, Computers 2 SD Kids

on your doorstep Buzz Off Adult Spelling Bee April 13 Can you spell C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y? Websterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s says this is an interacting body of people living in the same location or a unified body of individuals. Whatever definition you choose, if you can spell it you can come and have F-U-N at the first annual Las Primeras â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buzz Offâ&#x20AC;? adult spelling bee, April 13 at the Salt Creek Rec Center. Las Primeras is a compassionate group of women in the South Bay committed to improving the community through financial support for many deserving organizations. At the Buzz Off, a team of three individuals can sign up to play for the charity of your choice. If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to spell, just come and have fun, food, and cheer on your favorite team. On lucky Friday, April 13, celebrity emcee and Channel 10 News anchor Bill Griffith will host this event featuring fab chow from Chef Deborah Scottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s food truck and other wonderful treats. Enter a team of three for $250; spectator tickets are $35. A few teams and tickets are still available. For details or more information, call Lisa at (619) 392-6106.

Liberty Elementary Celebrates Bertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Birthday With a Bash Liberty Elementary Schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Birthday Bashâ&#x20AC;? is set for Friday, April 13. The annual festival runs from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at The Shops in San Miguel Ranch parking lot. The community is invited to come out and take advantage of the games, food, displays and live entertainment sponsored by Liberty PTC. More information is available by visiting the website phttps:// or contacting Andrea Tarr at (619) 397-5225.

Chula Vista Public Library Foundation to Host Wine & Food Celebration The new branch of the Chula Vista Library located near the Food Pavilion at the Otay Ranch Town Center will be the site for the 4th Annual Chula Vista Public Library Foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bon AppĂŠtit Wine and Food Celebration. The yearly community event to benefit the Chula Vista Public Library Foundation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; open to those 21 years of age and older â&#x20AC;&#x201C; takes place on Saturday, April 28 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Ticketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s run $35 and are at any Chula Vista Public Library Branch or First Bank, 2314 Proctor Valley Road. To find out more, visit or call (619) 691-5170.










* The state benchmark is 800; 41 of 45 CVESD schools exceed the benchmark.


WWWCVESDORGs  EXT april 2012 my hometown 11

Spring Fever

Step Up & Make a

Difference Local Residents Who Are Giving Back Step up and make a difference – we hear these words and wonder, “How do I do that?” It can be overwhelming when we stop to think about the ways our community needs us to get involved and give back. The schools need our help, the library is asking for volunteers, the City wants us to be more active, solicitors call the house asking for donations and the local athletic leagues need sponsors. Yes, the requests seem to never end. But no one is asked to do it all or alone. In this month’s anniversary issue of My Hometown Chula Vista, we share with you three great examples of how some in our community spotted a certain need and stepped up to help. We encourage you to find where you might best make a difference and go out and do just that.

april 2012 my hometown 13

giving back

Local Students Benefit from Officers’ Generosity In their line of work, School Resource Officers encounter difficult situations on a regular basis. School administrators often call SROs to assist when an issue arises with a student in elementary, middle or high school that requires a skill set best offered by a trained law enforcement officer. But every now and then, even the SROs run into a situation that makes them take a step back and think about their next move. For Officer Rosario that situation occurred at the end of October/beginning of November last year. She recalls being in a room at a local elementary school meeting with a student and smelling a seriously foul odor. As she looked around the room, she noticed that the smell seemed to be coming from the young student’s feet. She asked the boy to show her his feet. “He didn’t have any socks on,” Officer Rosario remembered. “His shoes were tight and had holes in them. And that smell that was coming from them... This is how it started.” What Officer Rosario initiated was a grassroots, communitywide effort to raise money to help local students in need by providing them with a pair of new shoes and socks. After she finished meeting with the student, she spoke with district officials who informed her that there were many other children in a similar situation. She then approached Sergeant Harris who oversees the School Resource Unit for the Chula Vista Police Department. When Officer Rosario shared her experience at a staff meeting, her co-workers immediately shared similar experiences. Quickly, they realized they had an opportunity to give back and make a real difference. Joining Officer Rosario in spearheading this effort, initially designed to assist 125 kids, was fellow SRO Officer Hughes. He reached out to WalMart and received the first monies for this fundraising program. From there, support came in from the Chula Vista Police Athletic League, Chula Vista Kiwanis, EastLake Church, Sycuan Casino, Payless Shoe Source and several more community organizations and individuals. In less than three short weeks, local officers raised nearly $10,000 in private and corporate support enabling them to more than triple the number of recipients. Students and families were selected to participate in the activity with the assistance of school district officials and the South Bay Community Services. Many of these students had been teased or bullied in school as a result of their worn out shoes and dirty or missing socks. Working with Armando Diaz, the general manager at the Payless Shoe Source in Chula Vista Mall, the police department selected February 5 at 8:00 a.m. as the date and time for the shoes and socks giveaway. Panera Bread and Starbucks Coffee provided free food and beverage and several local radio stations were on hand to help entertain the crowd. “When we arrived at 5:30 a.m., there was already a family sitting by the door of the store waiting for the event to begin,” Sergeant

Harris said. “The mother told me she wanted to be sure her family was first in line. She even offered to help us set up. I could see it in her eyes, this was so important to her. She saw it as a golden ticket – brand new shoes and socks on her kids’ feet.” Once the doors opened, Sergeant Harris sent in several students at a time, accompanied by a volunteer for each family, to select their brand new pair of shoes, with no restrictions. By 12:30 in the afternoon, more than 400 boys and girls from the community had walked out of the local shoe store with new shoes and six pairs of socks. “The looks and smiles on both the kids and the parents told it all,” said Officer Hughes. “One young girl came up and hugged my leg. She had a card in her hand. Inside it read, ‘People like you make the world a better place.’ She had scribbled out the word ‘Xmas’ as this had originally been a Christmas card. To her, this was like Christmas.” The department plans to hold a similar program again this fall and welcomes the support and involvement from anyone in the community interested in getting involved and giving back. my.

april 2012 my hometown 15

Join us for Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012

8:00am Classic Worship, 10:00am "Fam Jam" 11:30am "Fam Jam" 7:00pm “The EDGE” Saturday Easter Worship 6:00pm "Conversations"

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summer giving travel back

EastLake Educational Foundation Making a Difference for Local Schools Looking back, Santiago Garza admits he wasn’t much into school, getting good grades or being an active participant in student activities early in his educational career. The current freshman at University of California, San Diego said it really wasn’t until he joined the Robotics program that he found his niche on campus and started to reach his academic and leadership potential at Eastlake High School. Garza graduated from the Chula Vista high school in 2011 after serving two years as CEO in the school’s Robotics program – an experience that fully prepared him to succeed as an electrical engineering major at UCSD and resulted in him being named one of 10 National FIRST Robotics Honor Students as a senior. “The award is given to students who show exemplary skills in leadership, engineering and community service,” Garza shared. “I did change a lot through my Robotics experience, meeting lots of interesting people and mentors who worked in the engineering field.” Garza is one of many success stories coming out of the Robotics programs at local schools. But despite its proven success, the program has not escaped the challenges brought on by the slumping economy. This school year the Robotics teams were going to be discontinued until the EastLake Educational Foundation stepped up and funded an additional $20,000 to local EastLake schools to continue this very important program. The support is just one example of how the community foundation is making a difference for our local schools. The EastLake Educational Foundation (EEF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation established in 1995 with the mission of raising funds to support the highest quality educational opportunities in the public schools within the community of EastLake. Since its inception, the EEF has been successful in bringing together businesses, local residents, school staff and families in support of its mission to develop and enhance technology in the classroom; this also includes local Robotics programs. Through community support of its activities such as Cycle EastLake! and an annual golf tournament, the EEF has been able to provide over $1,500,000 to equally benefit all six EastLake public schools. Schools that receive support include EastLake Elementary, Olympic View Elementary, Arroyo Vista Charter Elementary, Salt Creek Elementary, EastLake Middle and Eastlake High. This year the EEF will provide over

$150,000 to the local schools. “The EastLake Educational Foundation’s commitment is to our youth; we strive to ensure that each child acquires the skills to succeed in today’s technologically challenging world,” said Nicole Graichen, EEF’s Executive Director. “It is extremely important to us that children have the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, drive advancements in technology and not feel overwhelmed by what is surrounding them in this ever-changing world.” The members of the board of directors of the EEF bring a diverse background of community involvement, career experience, business ownership and financial responsibility to the organization. Stan Canaris, Dr. Susan Mahler, Michael Parker, Michelle Kotas and Maya Bloch, all in the education field, bring years of experience with successful student achievement in a variety of educational settings. Bill Ostrem, Steve Meisen, Barbara Legg, Lori Graham, Amanda Gregory, David Baumgarten, Maty Adato, Lourdes Ramos, Lynn Howell, John Nelson, Hector Martinez and Nicole Cramer have extensive business expertise from community development to environmental services, real estate, banking and law. All board members are parents of former or present EastLake students with connections to school Robotics teams, PTAs, administration, families and EastLake community management sources. With an experienced Executive Director in Nicole Graichen, the EEF has put together a winning team with experience, ethics and drive that is committed to its mission of assisting local students. The support received from the EEF does not go unnoticed by the students on campus. Garza remains grateful for the chance to participate in the Robotics programs and knows that opportunity came about in part due to the help of the EEF. “The funding support from EEF is really important,” he said. “With education funding being cut down, we need extra programs like Robotics in schools and the EEF helps to see the funds are there to allow Robotics and engineering programs to make a difference.” For more information on the EastLake Educational Foundation and its events and activities – like Cycle EastLake! on April 28, visit the website at my.

april 2012 my hometown 17

18 my hometown april 2012

summer giving travel back

Local Students Get Ready for Special Prom By Melinda Moore Baccanari tuxedos, dresses, jewelry, flowers, limos, DJ and food. With the generosity of sponsors and donors, these kids get star treatment for a night. News of the success of last year’s event has spread and registration has grown from 300 to 500 students. Thirty-six San Diego high schools were represented at last year’s prom. Although the prom is free for participants, it comes with a big price-tag. Sponsors like Eastlake Chick-fil-A and the Printing Shoppe help offset much of the expenses, but the Shields need to raise about $15,000 to make sure each honored guest is celebrated. To watch a video of last year’s prom and donate or sponsor an honored guest, please go to aNighttoRemember and click the DONATE button. Any donation amount will help. With a $100 sponsorship you will receive a thank-you card and pictures of the honored guest you sponsored after the event. my.

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Justin Savarase is a senior at Eastlake High School. Like many boys his age, he enjoys playing soccer, baseball and video games. He also dabbles in photography and likes listening to music. Justin was born with Down Syndrome. Dancing to the Black-Eyed Peas was a highlight for Justin last year when he attended “A Night to Remember,” a prom for students with a range of disabilities. Justin looks forward to this year’s prom, which will be held at EastLake Church on April 27. This second annual event is directed by longtime EastLake residents Rob and Cheryl Shields who, with the help of sponsors and donors, offer it at no cost to attendees. As Cheryl meets with a group of special needs high school students to explain the upcoming prom, they can barely contain their excitement. “I’ve never been to a prom before!” shouts one boy. When Cheryl tells the girls they will be fitted for formal dresses and professionals will do their hair and makeup making them look gorgeous, some of the girls in the room giggle and cover their faces. “What do you do for men’s hair?” a boy asks. Cheryl tells him they will put gel in it to make them look handsome. He jumps up and down in his seat and laughs. Each honored guest is paired with a prom-buddy – students from local high schools who keep them company and provide assistance if needed. Last year Justin’s prom-buddy was David Heinzman, a sophomore at Eastlake High School. David is athletic, and enjoys football, basketball and swimming. “It was cool that I was paired with Justin,” said David. “We talked about school and sports, and we really connected. The limo, the red carpet, the pictures, the whole thing was a great experience.” David said that he sometimes feels uncomfortable because of how special needs kids are treated at school, especially around prom season. He said he’s glad to participate in an event where kids who are not always treated with respect get their time in the spotlight. David recognizes that not all of his peers are mature enough to volunteer at this event. For parents of special needs students, “A Night to Remember” represents a significant milestone. Justin’s mother, Charlene Hall, said it provides kids with that important rite of passage that they might otherwise miss. “This is a chance for them to experience prom and still fit right in,” said Hall. “It also gives us parents an opportunity to usher our kids into something more grown-up. They get to practice good manners and etiquette and to be part of something sophisticated.” Realizing that families with special needs children often have heavy financial obligations, the Shields have worked to ensure everything for their honored guests is provided free of charge –

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d april 2012 my hometown 19

on topic: EDUCATION

Kids 4 Our World Gives Back to Better Our World By Miguel Angel Aldrete, 6th Grader at Discovery Charter Elementary School


id you know that the equivalent of one to two and a half football fields of rainforest is destroyed every second? This means that over 400 football fields of rainforest will be wiped out by the time you finish reading this article. My name is Miguel Aldrete, and I would like to give you an opportunity to help me offset the effects of deforestation with basic actions starting today. Will you help me? What will I do to positively impact my world, you ask? Let me tell you what I am already doing. When I was in first grade, I learned about deforestation and I did not like it. So I did something about it. I started my own non-profit organization. Kids 4 Our World focuses on three areas: offsetting the effects of deforestation; supporting organic gardens and promoting healthy eating; and what I call “Motivation for Education.” Deforestation is the clearing of trees. Deforestation is causing an imbalance of CO2 and oxygen in our world. This imbalance is the number one cause of

global warming. The effects of global warming include the melting of polar ice caps, floods and global disasters. So we should be planting more trees, but in reality we are cutting them down. Approximately 50,000 species of plants and animals become extinct every year. In fact, scientists believe that within 40 years, the last piece of rainforest will be gone. To help prevent this, I have partnered with Trees For The Future Foundation and have donated money to plant 4,000 trees in six different countries. I have raised the money by recycling which is double the benefit – it cleans the environment and I am raising money to plant trees. I also published a book titled The Glowing Mask In Hawaii. When I published my first book, I decided to use it to help others. For every book sold I donate money to plant 10 trees. I


Opening our doors September 9 861 HAROLD PLACE, CHULA VISTA 91914

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20 my hometown april 2012


will continue offsetting the effects of deforestation by publishing a series of seven books. My goal is to plant 10,000 trees by the end of 2012. If these trees are planted, it will reduce the effects of CO2 in the air and turn it into oxygen. Kids 4 Our World also supports organic gardens and promotes healthy eating. We are well aware that childhood obesity and diabetes are increasing in our community. To help with this problem, I have partnered with Olivewood Gardens Foundation to sponsor organic garden fieldtrips for students to learn about the importance of healthy eating through hands-on gardening and cooking. I have also donated money from the proceeds of my book to help start an organic garden at my school, Discovery Charter Elementary. I believe that the most important role I have today is what I call “Motivation for Education.” Very simply, that is to be a leader and a role model for my peers. I have been invited by Athletes for Education Foundation to be a motivational speaker to third grade students. Athletes for Education consists of professional athletes motivating students to do well in school, but they feel that I can connect at a higher level with these students because of what I truly believe – you don’t have to be an adult or famous to make a difference in our world. It is exciting and encouraging to know that some of the kids that I have shared my experiences with have now published their own books. I invite you to visit my website, www., to see videos and pictures of what we are doing and donate $5 to help us plant 50 trees. This will get us closer to reaching our goal of planting 10,000 trees in 2012. Support Kids 4 Our World – it’s our future. my.

something to give

If you have something to give, then donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give up on me.

Casey Family Programs is looking for foster parents who can help teenagers find their way home to a safe and stable family. Learn more at or call 619.543.0774

change a life change a life forever. forever A year of your life can

calendar april 2012

out and about April 6 Passover Begins; Ends April 14

April 14 7th Annual 5K Walk/Run for Health presented by Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Alpha Gamma Chapter – 8-11:30am at Rohr Park, 4548 Sweetwater Rd, Bonita; Proceeds used for community service and education awards; (619) 806-1303 or email LambdaKappaMu@

April 25 Justin Grinnell Jazz Quartet – 7:30pm at Southwestern College Recital Room 801; Free admission, free parking in Lot O; (619) 421-6700x5895

Otay Ranch Town Center Farmer’s Market – every Tuesday 4-8pm

April 8

April 12

April 13


Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce Mixer –5:307:30pm; held at the Chula Vista Convention & Visitors Center, 750 E St, CV 91910; (619) 420-6603 or

Liberty Elementary School Festival – “Bert’s Birthday Bash” – 4-7pm at The Shops in San Miguel Ranch parking lot; Games, food, displays and live entertainment; Family event sponsored by Liberty PTC; Contact Andrea Tarr at Liberty Elementary (619) 397-5225 or https://sites.

Foundry Easter Sunrise Service – 6:15am at Mountain Hawk Park;

April 21 What To Expect On The SAT – Free workshop for juniors, class of 2013 – 9am-12pm at Chula Vista High School Gym; Students will work on practice problems from the SAT; Register at; Questions, call Karla Whitaker (858) 569-1866x216 Open House – Sustainable Energy Showcase House – 10am at 590 Fig Avenue, CV 91910; Tour the Chula Vista Sustainable Energy Showcase Home, which highlights how an existing home can be upgraded with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to reduce energy costs and improve the home’s comfort and health; 12th Annual Day of the Child Community Fun Fair – 11am3pm at Memorial Park, Third Avenue & Park Way; Free family event providing resources to keep children safe, healthy and well informed of services in the community; Over 100 informational and interactive booths with entertainment, face painting, performers, dance contests, puppets, magic show, story time, games and much more;

April 22 Eastlake High Swim & Dive Team Golf Tournament – at EastLake Country Club; Shotgun start, best ball scramble format; $125 individual or $430 for a foursome; Dinner and silent auction; Register at golf

Las Primeras Buzz Off – Adult Spelling Bee & Dinner – 5:30pm at Salt Creek Rec Center, 2710 Otay Lakes Rd; Teams of 3 adults compete in spelling bee to raise money for South Bay service organization

April 28 YMCA Healthy Kids Day – 9:30am Free Family Fun Run/Walk & 10am-2pm Community Expo at Otay Ranch Town Center; Family activities, bounce house, youth fitness demos, entertainment, dancing, information booths and E-waste recycling; www.southbay.

Cycle EastLake! – 7:30am at Otay Ranch Town Center; 100K, 25-mile and 18-mile rides through east Chula Vista; Proceeds benefit the EastLake Educational Foundation; Register online at

e C o m e RhidU ! 4th Annual W it ChulasVista

Cycle EastLake Public Library Foundation’s

Benefitting The EastLake Educational Foundation

Saturday, April 28, 2012and Bon Appétit Wine

Food Celebration hosted by Chula (Prizes at the end of the ride for the best hands) Vista Library Foundation – First Event Begins at 7:30am Located at the Otay Ranch Town Center 5-9pm at new Library loca2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista, 91915 tion inNowFood Pavilion at Otay Register Online at For more information, contact Ranch Town Center; $35 Nicole Graichen at 619-997-6470 or per ticket, must be 21+ to attend; www.cvplfoundation. net or (619) 691-5170 100K Cycling Tour 25 Mile Marty Garcia Memorial Ride 18 Mile Mountain Bike & Poker Ride

2012 Event Sponsors

2012 Event Partners: South Bay Family YMCA, City of Chula Vista, Computers 2 SD Kids

Please note events and times are subject to change.

22 my hometown april 2012

resident spotlight

The Lappin Family T

o say the Lappin family is going places only describes half of this unique local family’s approach to life. For while each of them have found ways to push forward in a variety of areas, there is still a strong drive to remain close to home, enjoying all that their community has to offer. Dave, a locomotive engineer, grew up in the northern California town of Danville. He knew for years that he wanted to live in the San Diego area many years before he finally bought a home and moved into the local Windingwalk community with wife Katarzyna, son Paul and daughter Michelle. The fourth generation railroad man has always loved to travel to resort areas and taking cruises to tropical locales. For him, living in southern California means enjoying great weather, beaches, palm trees – in other words the tropical-like atmosphere he seeks on his vacations. “This is an amazing area with so many choices,” Dave said. “We have lots of parks and recreational options. It took me longer to get here than I had hoped, but I really enjoy living here.” Like her husband, Katarzyna also left home to come to Chula Vista, though her trip was just a little further. Born in Warsaw, Poland, Katarzyna was working in the telecommunications area for an American company when she took a trip to Cancun, Mexico in 1999. There to take a break from numbers and charts, she met Dave. The two hit it off and emailed each other every

Photo courtesy of: Schafer Photography (619) 261-0471

day when they returned home. Katarzyna came to the United States for Christmas to meet his family and Dave returned the favor the following Easter going to Poland. Quickly, Dave and Katarzyna, a self-taught artist who completed a series of 20 paintings celebrating Chula Vista for the city’s Centennial last year, decided they could not live separately any longer and agreed to get married and live in the Bay Area. With Dave’s sister living in San Diego and taking care of his father, Dave made a lot of trips down south. He ended up videotaping 40 homes for Katarzyna to review as they considered making a move. Shortly after, the Lappins moved into the local community in 2005. Like their parents, Paul, 10, and Michelle, 7, have found great opportunity locally. His parents describe Paul – a fourth grader at Wolf Canyon Elementary – as a strong student who enjoys building things, especially with LEGOs. Michelle, who is in the first grade, recently started a cooking class and is bringing home salads and desserts that her father calls delicious. Both Lappin kids are very independent and enjoy being out on the go. “Life is full of amazing experiences all the time,” Katarzyna said. “I wanted a home that would serve the purpose of raising our family in a safe and comfortable way. We just love everything that is here. It’s like coming back to paradise living in this area.” my. april 2012 my hometown 23

school news

School News Sheriff Department Showcases Robots For Liberty Students


rawing a comparison to the human arm, the guest speaker showcased how the robot could move its arm in a way that the young students could immediately relate to. He pointed out the shoulder, and the robotic arm raised up as 35 to 40 elementary school students oohed and ahhed with approval. Moving on to the elbow, the speaker then had the robotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arm bend upward as if completing a biceps curl. Finally, the robotic wrist allowed the mechanical devise to reach out and point its claws toward the intended target â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a local studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s backpack sitting a few feet away on the school playground. Parent volunteer Baltazar Perez offers a Robotics Club at Chula Vistaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Liberty Elementary School twice a week. On this day in mid-February, he had professional help in illustrating how robots function. The Sheriff â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bomb Squad Team had brought two specially designed robots to demonstrate how they are used in the

teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daily work. On one of the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s basketball courts, with an after-school basketball club taking place nearby, the law enforcement officials talked about the features of the robots â&#x20AC;&#x201C; like the cameras, claws, batteries and motors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and showed students how the images captured by the robotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cameras are viewed on monitors

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located in the large van the team uses out on site. The detectives emphasized how the bomb squad wants to be as safe as possible and use the right robot for the right task. And, then it came time to answer questions from the students and up went the hands from these future engineers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;How far will the bullet travel out of the gun?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;What is the laser used for?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;How much damage will the robot be able to take?â&#x20AC;? The detectives answered each question, providing information that will certainly help these students with their future club projects.

school news

“If these students are interested in getting into the field of engineering and robotics, this demonstration helps them to see how their work makes these robots function and easier to use,” said Dan Wilson, a detective with the Sheriff ’s Bomb Arson Unit. “We rely on robots in our line of work and this gets kids familiar with what we use them for. We need them to help us do our jobs better.” It was a lesson absorbed by many of the students in attendance including Aladin, a fifth grader at Liberty and a member of the Robotics Club. “I joined the Robotics Club because I thought it would be helpful in my future career,” Aladin said. “It’s interesting because of all the things you can make robots do such as save peoples’ lives through surgery. I learned that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve.” With the students seated on the blacktop, the Sheriff maneuvered the robot over to the backpack. Some students encouraged him to fire on the backpack, but instead he used the toggle to extend the robot’s arm, straighten the elbow and reach out with its claw. Now in range, the claw inched closer and secured the backpack. The detective then had the robot turn, change direction and deliver the backpack to its young owner – mission completed. “As the students get into robotics, they learn there is a lot of programming involved,” said Perez, who has two sons at the school. “When they see the results, like they did today, they see it is worth all the effort.” Perez hopes to see the program, which began at Liberty for fourth, fifth and sixth graders just this year, expand to more schools throughout the district. For more information on the program visit www. my. 04/30/12




april 2012 my hometown 25

Casey Family Programs W

alk into Casey Family Program’s Old Town office and a sense of serenity seems to gather in the welcoming lobby. A calmness that makes you feel like you’ve come home settles in very quickly. How fitting then that this organization, which began in Seattle, Washington and opened in San Diego in 1993, seeks to find permanent homes for children in foster care. More specifically, Casey Family Programs has set a goal of safely reducing by 50 percent the number of children in foster care by the year 2020 – something the organization calls its “2020 Strategy.” For the last eight years, Chula Vista resident Jorge Cabrera has worked at Casey Family Programs helping to connect youth, particularly those in the 11-17 age range, with foster families on their way to a more permanent family situation. While challenging, the work has also been very rewarding. “At Casey Family Programs we focus on children that have been abused and neglected and work to connect them to family,” said Cabrera, Senior Director of the San Diego field office. “We don’t think children should be without a family. Through our efforts and the help of loving foster families, we try to create lifelong, permanent family connections. Foster care is about providing temporary protection and care. We ask the foster families to help us with building a bridge to permanency outside of the foster care system.” Casey Family Programs plays an active role in looking for families who will open their hearts and a home to these youth. The goal is to create stability in the adolescents’ life as they receive 26 my hometown april 2012

Photo courtesy of: Elsa Flores, Photo By Elsa

additional support and counseling from the organization’s skilled and highly trained social workers. Every potential foster family starts their journey with an orientation and overview of what Casey Family Programs is about and the values associated with this type of work. According to Cabrera, if after the orientation the family decides to move forward they progress to a 30-hour pre-service training opportunity to learn about what is involved with being a foster family. Here, the potential foster family receives information on the role of foster parents and sees how they fit into the team that is building a stable situation for youth in foster care. After that, the family progresses to the certification process. If all goes well, the whole process runs six to nine months from orientation to the identification of a youth that will be a good match for the family is complete. “We provide a lot of training and support for our families and work in partnership with them,” Cabrera said. “This is an important decision and we have the utmost respect for our foster families. We are committed to honoring what they do. We are always looking for families interested in this work.” Many of the youth that Casey works with are Latino and placed in homes in the South Bay region, which is an important demographic group that Casey is committed to serving. my. Casey Family Programs, (619) 543-0774;



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My Hometown Chula Vista - April 2012  
My Hometown Chula Vista - April 2012  

Community News for East Chula Vista