Central Valley - August 2017

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August 2017


In the Spotlight

14 16 20 32 36

Central Valley’s monthly feature about art in the Valley debuts with an interview with Fresno Philharmonic’s Rei Hotoda.

Innovations in learning Government agencies come together to create a learning utopia of sorts in downtown Fresno. The reason? Kids.

Education’s next chapter Can children thrive without traditional teaching methods? Fresno’s diverse crop of charter schools certainly think so.

32 4 Sneak Peek 5 Believe it

Winner, winner Did somebody say chicken dinner? The bird is a tasty staple at local restaurants. See what’s on the plate.

Go for the gold California’s Gold Rush Towns deserve a visit apart from those field trips we all took as school kids. Even Flo thinks so.

6 Pastimes 9 Make it 10 Don’t Miss Calendar 12 25 Things You Didn’t Know... 14 In the Spotlight 16 Innovators 20 Back to School 26 Back to School 30 Back to School 32 Eat, Drink, Be Merry 36 Get Up and Go



40 Snapshots

Delali Abude gets ready to sing at the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center anniversary celebration Read about it on page 16. PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian

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At Home

Fresno embraces innovations


here were no words I hated more as a kid than “back to school.” It is odd, really, because I genuinely liked going to school. I guess I just liked hanging out by the pool and sleeping in a little better. Go figure. I don’t know what the kids these days think about school or the concept of returning after the summer, but I’d guess those words still aren’t overly welcomed, even though from what I’ve seen of the charter school popping up downtown, I may be wrong. These schools, as writer Dani Villalobos found out, are nothing like the classrooms that existed when I was younger. Instead of chairs in rows or work groups, there may not even be chairs at all. What these charter schools are finding out is that learning happens when children and teachers are creative. I love that concept. Read about the area’s charter schools on page 20. This month, Central Valley is also introducing two new features. The first is “In the Spotlight,” which will focus on the exciting things happening in Fresno’s thriving arts community.

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This new feature couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re happy to introduce to you Fresno Philharmonic’s new music director, Rei Hotoda. Her goal for her new position is simple. She wants to inspire a whole new audience with innovative performances that challenge us to think. That’s a lofty goal and one I can’t wait to see her accomplish. A page away from “In the Spotlight” is “Innovators,” our second new feature. “Innovators” will highlight people and places that go outside the norm to find creative solutions to problems or provide unique services to our community. This month, writer Farin Montañez explores the innovative Lighthouse For Children. This downtown Fresno gem is a utopia, of sorts, for children. It is a partnership between First 5 Fresno County and the Fresno County Office of Education. When governmental agencies work together with a common goal and that goal is giving children a great start, magical things can happen. Read about it on page 16. Let us know what you think!

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Celebrate August

August 2017/ Vol. 6, Issue 7 ......................... Central Valley magazine is produced by the Custom Publications staff of The Fresno Bee and published by The Fresno Bee. It is inserted into The Fresno Bee on the fourth Saturday of the month in the Fresno/Clovis area. It can also be found in waiting rooms throughout Fresno/Clovis. Cover price $3.95 President & Publisher Tom Cullinan Vice President, Sales & Strategic Marketing John Coakley Editor Carey Norton | 559-441-6755 Advertising Sales Director Bill Gutirrez | 559-441-6127 Production Coordinator Anna Ramseier | 559-441-6751 Central Valley Sales Leader Sonia White | 559-441-6156 Assistant Editor Monica Stevens | 559-441-6149 Custom Publications Staff Farin Montañez | 559-441-6677 Janessa Tyler | 559-441-6764 Dani Villalobos | 559-441-6759 Contributing Writers Cyndee Fontana-Ott, Douglas Hoagland, Janice Stevens, Teryn Yancey Contributing Photographers Wayne Hutchison, Gary Kazanjian, Tomas Ovalle, Jessica Rogozinski, Mark D. Wojdylak Design Carey Norton, Monica Stevens, Juan Vega, Dani Villalobos, Lisa Vogt Contributing Artists Pat Hunter Reader inquiries Central Valley magazine 1626 E St., Fresno, CA 93786 www.centralvalley.com 559-441-6755 All content © The Fresno Bee To contribute, please contact Carey Norton at 559-441-6755 or cnorton@fresnobee.com

The Fresno Bee fresnobee.com

4 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Wild Water Adventure Park is hosting Fireworks on the Lake on the first three Saturday nights in August. Not to be confused with the Star Spangled Revue, the seasonal event started in mid-June. But before you watch as fireworks illuminate the sky at dusk, beat the heat with family-friendly entertainment. Located on Shaw Avenue near Academy Avenue, the water park features high-tech rides like Kaleidoslide, GhostSlider, Thunder Falls, Sidewinder and Banzai Pipeline. For low-thrill attractions, children can retreat to Buccaneer Landing, Orca Lagoon and the 30,000square-foot wave pool, the Blue Wave. Details: www.wildwater.net

Central California Women’s Conference turns 30

Run on the wild side

The Central California Women’s Conference turns 30 this year. The event will celebrate three decades of empowering women and a total of nearly $1 million given back to local nonprofit organizations. What better way to encapsulate this major milestone than by tying it into the Sept. 19 event’s theme? “Embrace your journey” aptly fit the bill. “We thought this has been a journey, and everything about our lives makes us who we are today — the good, the bad, the ugly. You’ve got to embrace it, right?” says Jan Edwards, director of marketing and development. “That’s how we came to pick our keynote speaker this year, Amy Purdy.” The paralympic medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” runner-up contracted meningococcal meningitis at just 19 years old, and was given a less than 2 percent chance to live. She beat those unthinkable odds, but required a kidney transplant and had both of her legs amputated below the knee. Still, that didn’t stop Purdy from competing as a professional snowboarder and co-founding Adaptive Action Sports in 2015, working to help others who are physically challenged to get involved in competitive sports. This year’s conference features 21 additional speakers on a wide range of topics intended to meet the needs of the event’s diverse demographic. All attendees are asked to wear pearls in honor of the conference’s anniversary year. “This day is really the one to carve out for yourself if you’re a woman because of the information, the networking and the inspiration,” says Edwards. “It’s just a time to reflect and think about your own journey and where you want it to go. We want people to come and celebrate their being.” Tickets are selling briskly for this annually sold-out event. General tickets cost $110 before Aug. 19, and then the price climbs to $120. Register online at www.ccwc-fresno.org.

In case you didn’t know, Bigfoot — also known as Sasquatch — isn’t a myth. Although the hairy humanoid is a native of the Pacific Northwest, the rumor mill has been spinning. He was recently spotted taking a dip in Shaver Lake. With the hope of befriending him, the Fresno County Search and Rescue Mountaineering Team is hosting the Search and Rescue Wild Run at 8 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 13. Starting at the intersection of Dinkey Creek and Fishing Club roads, the fundraiser gives four options to choose from: the Trail Half Marathon, the 5K Trail Wild Run, the 10K Trail Run and the 2-Mile Family Hike. Experience the breathtaking views of meadows, streams and the Sierra National Forest. Proceeds from the fundraiser, part of theTrail Runner Magazine Trophy Series, benefit the Fresno County SAR Mountaineering Team. Details: www.runsignup.com/ race/ca/shaverlake/sarwildrun



Dinner, delivered Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to shop for groceries. And then there are the checkout lines. And trying to bring all of the groceries inside the house in one trip because you are not going back outside in 100-degree weather. Thanks to technology and forward-thinking businesses, we have plenty of options for acquiring our groceries or meals. Here are some options:

Effort: Go-getter Ooooby Fresno Out Of Our Own Back Yard is a food distribution co-op that allows customers to get fresh fruits and vegetables from small-scale organic growers delivered to their neighborhoods. Deliveries are made weekly, and you pick up the box at a designated spot around town. Then you come up with ways to use the inseason produce. Ooooby Fresno provides a recipe or two, but plan to come up with your own creative ways to prepare the fruits and veggies. Each week you can add extras, like farm-fresh eggs, Fresno State jam, Lanna Coffee beans or Molucca chocolate bars. Boxes come in four sizes: small ($16), medium ($21), large ($28) and oooober ($35), containing varying quantities of locally grown, certified organic produce.

using jumbo ice packs until you can transfer the goodies into your refrigerator. Next, follow step-by-step instructions, often with helpful photos, to prepare the meals. This process can take 10 to 15 minutes and uses one pan with Gobble, 25 to 40 minutes and a few dishes with Hello Fresh or Green Chef, and 45 minutes and a sink-load of pans and cutlery with Blue Apron or Purple Carrot. Use or pause the services on a week-by-week basis or cancel at any time. Prices vary by service, but average $11 per meal, or $66 a week with three dinners for two people, delivery included. Menus cater to a variety of diets, from vegan and vegetarian to paleo or gluten-free, among others.

Effort: Average Joe

Effort: Couch Potato

Meal kit delivery services Using a meal kit delivery service can be helpful if you’re stuck in a recipe rut and need new ideas for what to serve for dinner. Recipes draw on cultures from around the world and use in-season produce. Go to the service’s website (most are based in California) and choose from a menu. The following week, a box of food and accompanying recipes for two or four people is delivered to your door. Perishable items are kept fresh


UberEATS Craving a Big Mac or a nice big plate of Scarface pasta from DiCicco’s? With a few taps on the

UberEATS app, you can order your food and track it as it leaves the restaurant and is handdelivered to your door by an Uber driver. Uber’s food delivery service launched in Fresno in May with more than 80 participating restaurants searchable by name, speed of delivery, price or dietary concerns. Participating eateries include national chains like McDonald’s and Panda Express to local favorites like Yosemite Falls Cafe and Double Play Pizza. And our new favorite, for those popcorn emergencies, Grandpa’s Popcorn & Sweets. Delivery can take 20 minutes to an hour, and UberEATS tacks on a booking fee with every order.

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 5



T.W. Patterson Building continues to dominate the downtown Fresno skyline BY: Janice Stevens | ILLUSTRATIONS: Pat Hunter | PHOTOGRAPHY: “As ‘Pop’ Saw It, Vol. II, Photographs of the San Joaquin Valley from the Files of Claude C. ‘Pop’ Laval” by Jerome D. Laval


Janice Stevens is the author of multiple books on California history: Fresno’s Architectural Past, Vol. I and II, William Saroyan: Places in Time; Remembering the California Missions; and An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 (North, Central and South), plus Breaking Bread with William Saroyan, collaborations with her business partner, watercolorist Pat Hunter, and two volumes of Stories of Service, compilations of Valley veterans’ military memoirs. Ask Janice a Fresno history question by emailing custom@ fresnobee.com or posting your question on the Central Valley magazine Facebook page, www.facebook. com/CentralValleyMag.

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he discovery of an aging blueprint stuffed in a tube in a janitor’s closet of the T.W. Patterson Building at 2014 Tulare Street enabled Christopher Johnson to restore the towering skyscraper to its former opulence. Johnson, the historical architect hired by the owners, found the blueprints and “… painstakingly duplicated them. He found the building is larger than originally estimated — 120,000 square feet compared with earlier estimates of 96,000 square feet — which is important when leases are being prepared,” notes Sanford Nax in a 2000 Fresno Bee article. “The Patterson building was named for Thomas W. Patterson, an early Fresno businessman, who in 1899 bought the land at Fulton and Tulare streets where the building was constructed in 1922. The eight-story Patterson building replaced the fourstory Forsyth Building that was destroyed by fire in 1921,” writes Paula Lloyd in a Fresno Bee article. Constructed in 1923, the T.W. Patterson Building was once considered to be the largest office building in Central California and, along with its neighbors, the Pacific Southwest Building and the San Joaquin Light and Power Building, created the distinctive Fresno skyscraper skyline. In The Fresno Morning Republican newspaper, March 18, 1923, the writer described the T.W. Patterson Building as “Fresno’s most imposing skyscraper.” The R.F. Felchlin Companies were the architects, engineers and builders of the Classical Revival architectural style building. The Fresno Morning Republican on Sunday, April 10, 1923, offers this description: “The first three stories of the office building will be faced with ornamental terra-cotta, and the upper stories will be faced with brick. The building will be constructed with reinforced concrete.” The lobby of the Patterson Building has a vaulted

AThe Tulare Street entrance features the historic details of the Patterson Building.

ceiling finished with imported marble, and the floor space is 16 feet by 50 feet — the largest of any office building in Central California. A variety of businesses leased space in the Patterson Building. By the fall of 1922, the Wonder Department store leased 55,104 square feet of floor space. Max Cahn, manager, negotiated the lease for more than $1,400,000 for 20 years. The KFRE Studios, which became a major presence in broadcast journalism, was located on the third floor, branching out from radio into television in the 1950s. As with its aging downtown Fresno counterparts, the skyscraper’s usage has peaked and waned throughout the years. In 1987, a revival of the downtown area included the remodeling of the Patterson Building as part of an attempt to lure a fickle public back to downtown. An article in the Fresno Bee on Sunday, Feb. 8, 1987, describes the new “mini-mall in Century


DThe T.W. Patterson Building at 2014 Tulare Street was constructed in 1922. SThe. T.W. Patterson Building side façade detail illustrates the design elements of R. F. Felchlin Companies: architects, engineers and builders.

Court, an urbane commercial center with a touch of European elegance that winds through the first-floor interior of the 65-year-old Patterson Building.” The name “Century Court” was chosen to reflect the 1985 Centennial year of Fresno. A few years later, the Patterson Building was purchased by a group of local investors for $560,000, less than the original cost of construction in the 1920s. With a vision of the potential offered by the grand old building, investors believed a floor plan suitable for individualized office suites and underground parking in the heart of Fresno would be a financial success. When constructed, the Patterson Building boasted the fastest elevators in the United States. The building offered both ice and hot water in every room, and used vertical shafts for a cooling system. The innovative air conditioning installed in the Patterson Building in the 1920s by Carrier Corp was one of the first in the country. “Willis Carrier, the recognized ‘father of air-conditioning,’ installed the system himself,” said Carol Roush, the property manager. “The system was replaced in later years and then replaced again by the current owners, who spent $600,000 on a modern system in 1996,” writes Nax. “The original air conditioner sits in the basement, with


Please see next page

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continued ...

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a No. 6 attached to it, which leads the owners to believe it was the sixth such system manufactured. A duplicate sits in the Smithsonian with a ‘25’ attached to it.” Millions of dollars have gone into preserving the architectural significance of the Patterson as well as to create a state-ofthe-art building AIn 1926, Fresno’s eight-story T.W. Patterson conducive to inBuilding became the first air-conditioned office dustry and combuilding. merce. “Over the last two decades, a Fresno financial advisor and his family have poured nearly $3 million into repairing and renovating the historic T.W. Patterson Building on the Fulton Mall hoping to attract more businesses to the city’s central core,” writes BoNhia Lee in a 2013 Fresno Bee article. “Rick Roush of Roush Investment group has updated the decades old air-conditioning system, replaced old lights, repaired the elevators and built office suites. After doing so much work over the years around the rest of the building, Roush over the last few months, finally has renovated his own office. “Last week, Roush opened his sixth floor wealth management office in the 90-year-old building to show it off and give the public a glimpse into the past and a look at the future of downtown Fresno. Tenants over the years included a man’s department store, a cigar stand and a number of insurance companies. The Downtown Club was founded on the building’s eighth floor.” And the decades old air conditioning system required another upgrade in 2015. “A new chiller system was fired up at the T. W. Patterson Building in downtown Fresno over the weekend. The 460-volt Turbo Core McQuay Chiller and Marley cooling tower is an environmentally friendly and pricey upgrade to the building’s decades-old air conditioning system, which ‘imploded’ last year, said building owner Rick Rousch of Roush Investment Group. ... The system cools water that moves through pipes in the building to 45 degrees, which helps the building cool down. The water is reused instead of draining into a well under the building,” writes Lee in a 2015 Fresno Bee. Even with modern amenities, the historic T. W. Patterson Building retains its 1920s glory. A glamorous ornate chandelier adhered to the vaulted ceiling, original to the building, resides above the foyer in the lobby at the entrance. It suggests a bygone time from the turn-of-the-20th-century structure, now renovated to accommodate the needs of a 21st-century world. The T.W. Patterson Building continues to be a major component of the revitalization of downtown Fresno, and is listed on the Local Official Register of Historic Resources.CV




Bring the outdoors inside with decorative terra cotta pots PROJECT AND PHOTOGRAPHY: Teryn Yancy


ecorating with plants is one of the most popular home dĂŠcor trends of 2017. Not only do they beautify a space, some indoor plants help to remove the toxins in the air. Who knew some little green additions to your home dĂŠcor could have an impact on your health and help you to concentrate? With the ever-growing popularity of bringing the outdoors inside, I decided to easily transform some plain terra cotta pots into aged pottery with a farmhouse flair.

Supplies 3 4.25-inch terra cotta pots Flat white paint Paint brush Sandpaper Vinyl numbers or letters 3 houseplants (pictured are Neanthe Bella palm, aloe vera and fern)

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Method Step 1: Lightly dry brush the flat white paint onto the terra cotta pot. You do not want to cover the entire pot with paint. Randomly brush back and forth going around the entire pot. Step 2: Let completely dry. Step 3: Lightly sandpaper the spots that have a little too much paint and blend it all together to give the pot an aged look. Step 4: Press on the vinyl number stickers and smooth them out. You can find them at your local craft store, order them online or cut them out yourself with a craft-cutting machine. The numbers can signify a special date or a house number. Letters can also be used to spell out a simple phrase or name. Step 5: Add your plants of choice, give them a little water, place them in your home and enjoy. CV

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August 2017

Not so fast. The school year may be gearing up, but there are still lots of laughs, music and performances to squeeze out of this summer season.

A really stupid curse


In the Neil Simon comic fable, “Fools,” the play’s plot revolves around just that — a town curse that makes all its residents, well, stupid. Throw in a newcomer teacher, unexpected love story, a quest to break said-

classic films of our time, inspiring a series of sequels, TV spinoffs and a Broadway musical hit. Children’s Musical Theaterworks brings “Disney’s Lion King Jr.” to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for eight performances and showcases Simba’s journey through a selection of the film’s iconic songs. Details: www.cmtworks.org

Concert in the vineyard

08.11 curse and hilarity obviously ensues. Catch 2nd Space Theatre’s remaining performances of the show at its Tower District venue, which runs through Aug. 20. Details: www.gcplayers.com

The greatest Disney picture of all time


OK, so that might be a slightly subjective statement, but “The Lion King” remains to be one of the animated

For more complete calendar listings, go to planitfresno.com

10 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Nothing says summer like an evening enjoying live music and good eats in a beautiful locale — just ask Sanger’s Kings River Winery. The 2017 Kings River Winery Summer Concert Series invites locals to participate in the free event from 6 to 10 p.m. at its grounds, which will feature the musical stylings of Marie Wilson, food trucks, outdoor games and wine and beer for guests to partake in. VIP tables may be reserved in advance at an additional cost. Details: www.facebook.com/ Kingsriverwinery

A star-studded performance


For fans of the ABC show, “Dancing with the Stars,” or just ballroom dance in general, this performance is for you. Professional dancers from the reality competition series and season 24 winner, Rashad Jen-

nings, are set to recreate some of that TV magic at the Saroyan Theatre for one night with “Dancing with the Stars: Live! – Hot Summer Nights.” Details: www.fresnoconventioncenter.com

Guitar hero


No, not the video game. Laurie Morvan of the Laurie Morvan Band gives real credence to the phrase, receiving praise for her unique axe slinging skills as “fearless and fresh” and who has “exhilarating electric blues guitar style” by the world’s elite guitar publications. The five-piece band hails from Long Beach, and gives blues music an upbeat, highenergy spin with its powerful and inviting performances. Catch the group live at Tower Theatre. Details: www.towetheatrefresno.com

A little bit country, a lot a bit comedy


Triple-threats, move over — Rodney Carrington is coming to town. The comedian, actor, singer, writer and philanthropist is bringing his comedy act on the road, hitting the Saroyan Theatre stage for an evening of laughs and selections of some of his inventive musical numbers. Details: www.fresnoconventioncenter.com


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Clovis B.O.O.T executive director

Carole Lester arole Lester once tiptoed along the top ledge of a 28-story building in San Francisco. Who knew that Lester — executive directory of B.O.O.T, the Business Organization of Old Town — was such a daredevil? It tumbled out over coffee at a sidewalk cafe in Old Town Clovis. Appropriate setting, I’d say. She’s the force behind the farmers markets, car shows and other events that bring thousands of people to Old Town. A man at a nearby table was eavesdropping and thanked Lester for keeping him entertained. She laughed, and our conversation continued.


BY: Doug Hoagland | PHOOGRAPHY: Wayne Hutchison, McClatchy photo archive

1 Boy crazy at Sanger High School, Lester raced her ’62 Chevy Nova with the guys on Saturday nights. She could shift her way through three-on-thefloor. 2 Dad was a mortician from Chino who became a rancher near Sanger. 3 Made a splash with her husband, Jack, when they met at age 5 during swim lessons. Hormones

got them back together after high school. 4 The moo shu pork has to be good for a Chinese restaurant to get a thumbs up. 5 San Francisco was home for many years until


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suburbia (Marin County) beckoned. Content now in Clovis. 6 An only child and sometimes lonely, Lester wanted eight kids. She has two daughters, proving as we all know: Some things don’t add up. 7 Tune in: Her first job (in the ’60s) included selling television sets that were pieces of furniture. Flat screens were just a gleam in some engineer’s eye. 8 More interesting than it sounds: For years, Lester put on continuing education programs for property attorneys. She knows some good lawyer jokes. 9 Coordinated Civil War re-enactments for the Fresno Historical Society for six years. The actual war lasted four years. 10 Loves Barbra Streisand because of the diva’s determination and personality. The voice isn’t bad either.

10 11 Lester was 8 days old when her adopted mother and father brought her home on Easter Sunday 1951. She never looked for her Norwegian birth parents. 12 Always loved dancing — even to Lawrence Welk and his TV show’s accordion music. She was a little girl. It was the 1950s. Enough said. 13 Still dancing: For the last 20 years, Lester has boogied every chance she got to the Stones’ “Miss You.” It’s a group activity

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with friends in Marin. 14 Has a gym membership she never uses. Her favorite form of exercise is picking up a glass of wine at night. 15 Spring and fall are favorite times of the year. 16 Every few years, Lester re-reads her favorite novel: a story of India under British rule. “The Far Pavilions” is the title of the book by M.M. Kaye. 17 Krakow, Poland, is No. 1 on places to visit. Some people just enjoy the road less traveled. 18 With summer’s evening breezes, Lester’s thoughts turn to the backyard pool and midnight swims. 19 She’s a crier. TV commercials. Weddings. Movies — particularly Meryl Streep’s “Sophie’s Choice.” Pass the hankie. 20 Lester has good parking karma. Always finds a space close to wherever she’s going. 21 It really was “a really big show” when The Beatles debuted in America on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in ’64. Lester was watching — and screaming. 22 She escorted her daughters down the aisle at their weddings. Lester’s husband (a dentist) was licensed to officiate. 23 Danced as a pep girl and took art (she couldn’t draw but liked the class anyway) at Sanger High. Class of ’69. 24 While dabbling in interior design, Lester celebrated a finished project in a San Francisco skyscraper by ledge walking. Wearing a fashionable hat, no less. 25 Gets bored easily. She’ll work until 70 (four more years) or until grandkids start arriving. CV





Taking the reins Rei Hotoda guides Fresno Philharmonic into a new era BY: Farin Montañez | PHOTOGRAPHY: Todd Rosenberg Photography, Fresno Philharmonic


or Rei Hotoda, who played her first melodies on her mother’s piano at the age of 3, a life without music is unimaginable. “Music has always been a part of my life; it’s a limb, a part of my body,” says the new musical director of the Fresno Philharmonic. Her hiring is just as big for her as it is for Fresno. It’s Hotoda’s first gig as head music director — and she’s the first woman ever to hold that position in Fresno Philharmonic’s 63 years. “I’m incredibly honored,” she says, “but all across the country there are music directors who are women. To be the first in Fresno is fantastic, but it’s not really breaking the ceiling quite yet. I think there is more to come; more women will be coming through the ranks as musical directors.” She earned the position through a six-month audition and interview process and was chosen from six finalists to replace Theodore Kuchar, who left the philharmonic last year after conducting for 15 years. Each finalist gave one performance in Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre. Hotoda received the longest standing ovation of any candidate following her final number: an electrifying rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” Hotoda has held the position of assistant conductor for three prominent orchestras around the country, beginning with the Dallas Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and, most recently, the Utah Symphony. “It’s like being an understudy,” she says. “The way one becomes a conductor is by conducting on the podium — it’s the only way you practice.” Music has flowed through Hotoda’s veins since birth. Her mother was a music educator in Tokyo, where Rei was born. Her love for piano led to a bachelor of arts degree in music in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music and a doctoral degree in piano performance from University of Southern California. Her sights turned to conducting, and she studied for two years with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. “I’ve had amazing mentors,” Hotoda says, speaking highly of the conductors she has worked with as an associate. “All three are very strong conductors — phenomenal, actually — who have had a huge influence on my life as a conductor.” She also had the opportunity to become an apprentice to famed woman conductor Marin Alsop, current music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Hotoda was awarded the 2006 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, created by Alsop to mentor women conductors.

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“ I want to give them an experience they’ll never forget. I want it to transform their lives, transform the way they think and ignite their curiosity.” — Rei Hotoda, Fresno Philharmonic’s new musical director, about first-time visitors to the symphony

“She’s been a huge advocate and a role model for me,” Hotoda says. In her positions with esteemed orchestras, Hotoda has worked with “extremely high-level musicians,” she says, and she has found that here in the Valley, as well. “What I’m looking at for the season is to give the audience a sense of discovery and showcase the incredible treasure of talent in Fresno Philharmonic.” Her first performance is Oct. 15, aptly called “A New Era Begins.” The featured artist will be pianist Natasha Paremksi, a Moscow-born New Yorker. “This whole season will showcase incredible talent from all over the world coming to Fresno,” Hotoda says. “And an American composer will be featured in every concert this season.” She’s also excited to highlight a local composer. “We are featuring a Fresno State composer this year, Kenneth Froelich,” she says. “We’re doing his piece, ‘Spinning Yarns,’ in January. We really tried to reach out into the community and bring a collaborative environment into the philharmonic.” Hotoda looks forward to mirroring the Valley’s diversity through music. “The first program is quite eclectic,” she says. “It begins with a contemporary piece called ‘New Era Dance’ by Aaron Jay Kernis ... and there’s a piece by Debussy in the second half. There’s something for


everyone in all of our concerts.” Hoping to draw a broader audience, Hotoda will continue to combine “something new but something very familiar” throughout the season. “There are standards in the orchestra repertoire that people have loved throughout centuries — for example, Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 5,’ ” she explains. “We want to highlight these great pillars of orchestral repertoires while showcasing new contemporary pieces that go along with them.” She’ll also try to mix it up by exploring additional venues outside of Saroyan Theatre. “The board and I are trying to figure out ways to get our orchestra to provide an intimate opportunity to showcase our talented musicians — for example, a lounge for 100 people to hear the members of the Fresno Philharmonic playing smaller chamber works.” Hotoda, who lived in Chicago for many years and currently splits her time between Salt Lake City and her home base in the farming community of Morton, Illinois, is looking into her options in Fresno. “I want to be an active part of the Fresno community,” she says. “I’m in Nashville this week, Chicago next week and Salt Lake City after that. It’s the life of the typical conductor nowadays. But as I go to these different places I want to bring back to Fresno all of the different successes I’ve experienced elsewhere.” CV

AMusic can be a source of comfort for Rei Hotoda, as well as a source of energy. “I love pieces that are rhythmic and challenging,” she says.

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 15




futures start at birth

ACienne Rocha holds onto Charlotte Santoya at the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center.

16 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

BY: Farin Montañez | PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian


magine an adult-sized slide arching over Van Ness Avenue, carting children and their caregivers from a second-floor childcare center to a playground in Fresno’s Courthouse Park. This was the Willy Wonka-like dream Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino had about 10 years ago. The powers that be nixed his idea, of course, but the superintendent did get his wish of having a demonstration preschool lab in downtown Fresno — and, yes, it has a playground worthy of Wonka. The Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center is licensed for 96 children from ages 6 weeks to 5 years and was created in partnership with First 5 Fresno County. “When government agencies come together, look what happens,” Yovino said during The Lighthouse’s first-anniversary celebration in May. “This is both of us doing the right thing for our community, and that is

AMaritza Ceballos watches Damarius Young and Galileo Gsell share a laugh at the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center.

doing the right thing for our children — it’s just that simple.” Thanks to an innovative way of thinking about


education, the number of Yovino’s early care and education staff skyrocketed from 1.5 to more than 30 since the opening of The Lighthouse in 2016. Instead of focusing on educating children from kindergarten through their senior year of high school, the superintendent realized there was a need to start much sooner. “We’ve learned that children who start behind, stay behind — they don’t catch up,” he says. “We used to think it was we wanted every kid reading by third grade, and then it was we wanted every kid in preschool because that is going to make the difference. Well, now we know this: It’s about

healthy mothers, it’s about a healthy child who is starting really early. This is what this program does; this is what this partnership allows us to do.” First 5 Fresno County focuses on connecting families to programs and services for children ages 0 to 5 years old, so the agency was the perfect partner for this new look at early education, Yovino says. At the corner of Tulare and N streets in the heart of downtown Fresno, The Lighthouse for Children is a three-story building that was “planned, designed and built to be a space for young children to be prioritized and supported through cross-sector partnerships,” says First 5 Fresno County executive director Amelia Reyes.


It’s a hub of services for families, with the second and third floors housing Fresno County Office of the Superintendent of School’s Early Care and Education Department and First 5 Fresno County. The second floor is also home to a community learning center that offers free classes — such as breastfeeding and positive discipline — to local parents. But the heart of the facility, Reyes says, is the child development center. “Every morning I get to walk into this facility with pride and joy, right behind the footsteps of toddlers and preschoolers — a place where parents can bring their children and be confident and assured that their child is safe, respected and treasured,” Reyes says. There are several reasons why The Lighthouse Child Development Center is unique, says early care and education director Lupe Jaime. The center uses a blended-funding model, with some families paying full tuition, some receiving partial scholarships, some funded by the state and some paid through the county’s special education program. “That creates a very diverse group of children attending here from all walks of life, so they are learning from each other as well as bringing parents of all backgrounds together to one unique place,” Jaime says. The facility has a true opendoor policy, Jaime says. “Parents definitely come in at any time of the day for any reason and hang out as long as they want,” she says, noting that breastfeeding moms who work downtown often come into the center during their lunch hours to nurse their babies. The lobby boasts a welcoming seating area and open space. “That was intentional,” Jaime says. “The point was that parents shouldn’t just come and go. They should create a space for them to pick up their child, sit down and have a conversation. If their child wants to tell them about the day and they want to stay here and talk to staff about it, they should feel welcome.” The children certainly feel welcome. “They own the place, they really do,” says Jaime, laughing. Just across the hallway from the classrooms is a glass-walled conference room, Jaime says. “They go over there and wave,” she continues. “They don’t care what we’re doing, who we’re meeting with

DSuperintendent of Schools Jim Yovino shows a gift given to him at the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center one-year anniversary. The center, a partnership between the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and First 5 Fresno County, is licensed for 96 children from ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

Please see next page

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 17

continued ... … they know that this is their place.” Twenty of the center’s preschoolers are enrolled in a dual-language classroom, where they learn in both English and Spanish. “Children are capable of picking up more than one language, as long as the teacher has the right strategies to support that learning,” Jaime explains. Each of the center’s six classrooms is tailored to the developmental stage of the children it serves, with plenty of open space for tummy time, toddling and eventually walking around, Jaime says. Outside, the playground isn’t your typical monkey

bars and slide setup. Instead, it’s a natural, park-like environment that features a garden, rock climbing wall, hill and a slide that empties into a sandbox. “It’s one that if a parent wanted to, they could replicate it in their home … without having to go out and buy a very expensive playground set,” Jaime says. It’s the people, in addition to the grounds, that make The Lighthouse for Children an environment that facilitates learning, says superintendent Yovino. “We all know that as beautiful as this building is and all of the wonderful playground equipment and whatever technology is in the classroom is fantastic, but the single most important thing in a child’s life is their teacher,” he says — and the teachers at The Lighthouse

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DDMia Aguirre sings as part of the anniversary celebration for the Lighthouse for Children Child Development Center.

DRachel Siapin reads to students like Jayden Nino.

are some of the best educated in the industry. “To meet licensing standards, teachers would have 12 units in child development, which means they typically have four college classes in child development. But here, 98 percent of the teachers have their B.A. or higher,” Jaime says. The center also serves as a demonstration lab where students at local colleges can earn their lab hours or complete the observation components of child devel-


opment classes, Jaime says. While The Lighthouse focuses on early childhood education, the staff encourages kiddos to look beyond to higher education. The center’s first preschool graduation ceremony featured all of the pomp and circumstance typically found at a college commencement. “If you start introducing it early, then it’s going to be a given — they just have to go to higher ed,” Jaime says. “It’s just part of what you do.” CV

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Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 19



A Career Technical Education Charter offers two career-focused pathways for its students: advanced manufacturing and commercial construction.


schools you need to know about BY: Dani Villalobos | PHOTOGRAPHY: Kepler Neighborhood School, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Big Picture Educational Academy, Edison Bethune Academy Charter


hen it comes to education, parents have a pretty basic desire for their children: the absolute best. And while the traditional school district model works for many of the 200,000 students served by the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, the area’s 35-plus charter schools offer community members another option — helping to meet specific needs utilizing a more flexible and progressive approach. Charter schools are public schools, requiring institutions to accept all students regardless of their academic history, and are tasked with meeting the same state and federal education standards — and then some. We took a look at four Fresno charter schools that have adopted very different visions and curriculum pathways for their students, but lead to a singular ultimate goal: producing conscientious, prepared and engaged contributors of society.

20 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Kepler Neighborhood School Kepler Neighborhood School can trace its origins back to “Oprah.” Co-founder Shiela Skibbie was watching the popular TV program when she was struck by the East Coast’s Harlem Children’s Zone project. The community nonprofit organization provided various health and educational services to its neighborhood residents, and Skibbie decided downtown Fresno could benefit from something similar. So, in 2012, Skibbie and co-founder Valerie Blackburn wrote the petition to start Kepler Neighborhood School. Fresno Unified School District approved it and the charter opened its doors in August 2013 with nearly 200 students. “The whole idea is we’re a service-learning school that wants to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Fresno,” says principal Christine Montañez. “We have this heart of service, and we want students to experience real-world application to what they’re learning outside of the school.” For four years, the charter called Cornerstone Church’s education complex home — just a few blocks away from its new 37,000-square-foot space on


Stanislaus and Broadway streets. But even in the small, makeshift school, Kepler Neighborhood School managed to build a solid program that has grown to 472 transitional kindergarten to eighth-grade students already enrolled for the 2017-2018 school year. Students, teachers and staff moved into their new digs in April, turning the 104-year-old brick building into a state-of-the-art learning facility equipped with 22 classrooms, a maker’s space, rehearsal room, multipurpose room, library, tutoring room and two science labs. But it’s what’s been happening within Kepler Neighborhood School’s established curriculum that has families from 57 different ZIP codes clamoring to get a spot in the charter’s 22- to 24-student classrooms. The school’s three Cs — community, creativity and character — help its students achieve academic mastery and personal confidence in their individual strengths. Montañez says Kepler integrates technology, projectbased learning and performing arts into its programming, but with a unique additional emphasis: servicelearning. This year, for example, eighth-grade students took part in what Kepler calls the urban plunge — a joint effort with the Fresno Rescue Mission. Students spent two nights and three days working with the organization and were so moved by the fact that many of our area homeless didn’t have a pillow to sleep on, they sewed pillows together and hand delivered them. “Things like that are student-led and interesting to them. They want to solve a problem, so they go out and do it and the teacher just facilitates the learning,” Montañez says. “That’s just one example of what service-learning has done for our kids, and how they constantly contribute to the community.” Each child has a 3-mile radius permission slip, allowing the downtown community to become their classroom. Students regularly take class trips to Bitwise


Industries, Fresno County Public Library and neighboring museums and cultural centers. “We want kids, when they leave, to not only be proficient in their academics, but have all those study skills — to love to read, to be mathematicians, to have character and learn to work with people,” Montañez says. “Those are the life skills that we hope to impart on them, so by the time they’re in eighth grade, they have this portfolio of service they’ve done in the community and for each other.”

Career Technical Education Charter The Fresno County Superintendent of Schools had an 11-year-old school for 300-plus children with no current students to occupy it. The solution? Fill it — but with a twist. These kids would be learning specific industry knowledge, soft skills and trade abilities that are in line with the region’s top employers. “I’ve been the Fresno County superintendent for about five years, and one of the first things I did was hire someone to be a business engagement person,” explains Jim Yovino. “If we have 38,000 kids enrolled every day in career tech ed classes throughout the county with 1,500 sections and 800 courses, that’s great. But if there are no jobs in these areas, the experience is great but what about what the business leaders want?” Turns out, jobs in the areas of advanced manufacturing and commercial construction were the common requests voiced by the community, encouraging Yovino to create a petition for a charter school that would specialize in those two career pathways. A $6 million, state-of-the-art shop will be the latest addition to Fresno’s Kermit Koontz Education Complex, located at North Mariposa Street and East Hedges Avenue, and will encompass an 11,000-square-foot

A CTEC’s state-of-the-art shop is a massive 11,000 square feet, and will allow students to transition from a classroom setting to their work areas throughout the school day.

ADKepler Neighborhood School embraces a more collaborative classroom setting for its students. Instead of rows of desks, students are grouped together in formations similar to what one would find in a college library.

Please see next page

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 21

continued ... shop space, large awning, two full-size classrooms, a pull-out lab and dirt/concrete area for students to engage in cement and outdoor plumbing work. Opening Aug. 13, 2018, the school plans to focus on grades nine through 12, growing 100 students each year to a total of about 400 students. The career tech hub portion of the campus — focusing in areas of welding technology, plumbing, metal art and the like — is a major focus of the charter, but CTEC intends to do one further. “We’re partnering with Fresno City College, and it’s going to become a dual enrollment high school,” Yovino says. “What that means is that if a kid works really hard, at the end of four years when they finish high school they can have an A.S. degree from Fresno City College at the same time.”

Big Picture Educational Academy

ABig Picture Educational Academy’s new elementary school implements many of the Big Picture model’s focuses, including project-and interest-based lessons and exhibitions.

22 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Big Picture Educational Academy’s objective is simple: break the chain of poverty in Fresno through one student at a time. Imagine children at the center of their educational walk, outside of a classroom and in the world, accomplishing real things and learning as they do it. This concept — Big Picture Learning — led to a partnership between Jon Morse, Big Picture High School-Fresno co-founder and executive director emeritus, and Dr. Gerry Catanzarite, who is now the Big Picture Educational Academy’s school principal and superintendent. Impressed by its philosophy, Catanzarite partnered with Morse to bring Big Picture High School-Fresno to west Fresno. The charter school began with 80 seventh- through 10th-grade students eight years ago. The school now has nearly 500 elementary, junior high school, high school and adult school students at its two school sites. “Some kids need to be hands-on and not have to sit in a seat and listen to lectures all of the time — they want to see real stuff,” Catanzarite says. The curriculum’s design centers around five learning goals: communication, personal qualities, empirical reasoning, quantitative reasoning and social reasoning. These ideas hit on the academic subjects of language arts, mathematics, science and sociology — but with greater depth that challenges students to address these

areas in real-world settings and, many times, within a single project. The basis of its personalized model starts in what is referred to as an advisory, which is a small learning community of about 15 students for Big Picture Educational Academy’s high school classes that are each led by a teacher or advisor. The advisory is the core class for students, and is where they build relationships with the teacher and identify their individual interests to build a more specific learning plan that’s authentic and relevant to them. Workshops are where courses like American government, Algebra II and other subjects not so easily addressed by projects take place. But the academy’s portables and classrooms are meant to function as mere pit stops in students’ everyday schedules — internships with local businesses, college classes at Fresno City College or Fresno Pacific University and regular field trips are also part of the program. “We call it leaving to learn,” Catanzarite explains. “Many of the students come out of this area, and they have no experience — some have never seen snow or the ocean. It’s really important for us to get them engaged in real-life learning.” Students have found internships with everything from local law firms and restaurants to news publications and auto body shops — some experiences helping them understand what they don’t like or leading to long-term jobs after graduation. At the end of each quarter, students present an exhibition that demonstrates what they learned in front of a group, which includes a portfolio, presentation, projects and internships and how the experiences connect to the school’s five learning goals. Elementary and junior high students participate in a smaller version of this process, but are taught to become comfortable with the act of presenting in front of their peers and families. The growth Catanzarite has seen through its “panther pioneers,” or students who’ve completed the program from seventh grade to high school graduation, shows that its model works. He hopes its recent additions of an elementary school program and adult diploma program will only further its goal of bettering students’ lives one person at a time. “The ultimate goal is going to be achieved by us having a K through adult program because we’re serving the whole community,” he says. “Over a period of time, this is really going to gel into something huge.”

Edison Bethune Academy Charter Parents wanted better. In 1998, Bethune Elementary School families were unhappy with their children’s academic performance index score of 363 — a former system used to measure students’ academic performance through state testing and other measures. Please see next page


A Edison Bethune Charter Academy regularly looks for ways to invite the community onto its campus, helping students gain more exposure to outside opportunities.

FA Service-learning is a key component to Kepler Neighborhood School’s mission, with its youngest students finding their heart of service by reading to members of a nearby senior living community.

continued ... The West Fresno community approached Fresno Unified School District with a petition to become a charter school that better addressed its students’ needs, but were unsuccessful. Fresno County Office of Education eventually authorized the request, with EdisonLearning functioning as the new institution’s management company. And in 1999, Edison Bethune Charter Academy was officially up and running. “Our whole vision is that we’re here to provide a world-class education for kids to compete globally,” says Rodolfo Garcia, principal and executive director. The kindergarten through sixth-grade charter’s curriculum is rigorous, requiring students to participate in monthly benchmarks so teachers and staff can assess what’s working and what’s not. Garcia notes the school focuses on strong professional development for its educators and its students. Edison Bethune Academy integrates music, art and physical education into its program, helping students connect the lessons they’re learning in their regular classrooms through the expertise of “specialists” who are credentialed in the subject they’re leading. A focus on technology is also a goal, Garcia says, and the charter’s transition to a nonprofit in 2015 enabled

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Edison Bethune Academy Charter to allot more money toward providing all of its 550-plus students with one-to-one technology. For instance, all second- through sixth-grade students have a Chromebook available to them during the day, and rolling computer labs will rotate between the first-grade classes so students will no longer have to schedule a visit to the campus’ stationary lab. Garcia says the school attempts to create relationships with businesses, groups and families through father-daughter dances, class sponsorships and an annual celebrity softball game. It’s a way to get the community to come to Edison Bethune Academy Charter, he says. And it seems the charter’s efforts are working. That low API score? Students reached a score of 809 in 2013 — two years before its goal, making Edison Bethune Academy Charter the highest performing elementary school in West Fresno. “We’ve proven that it doesn’t matter what community you come from,” Garcia says. “If you’re coming in with the right attitude, the right compassion, you can get things done. You can get kids to believe that they can be successful, and we try to instill that in both our staff and students.” CV

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24 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine




The sky is the limit

Soar to new heights with adult education BY: Janessa Tyler | PHOTOGRAPHY: Gary Kazanjian, Jill Wagner


id you miss your chance to earn a high school diploma? Do you want to seek a career as a certified nursing assistant? Do you need to learn English as a second language? Do you want to learn the basics of social media? It doesn’t matter if you want to invest in your future or learn new skills, attitudes and values, adult education is the best way to go. The goal of adult education is to train and equip the minds of adults who want to broaden their horizons.

Fresno Adult School

AThe Osher Lifelong Learning Institute specializes in educating adults over the age of 50 who want to learn and explore for the sheer joy of the process.

26 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

Fresno Adult School has been an integral part of the community since being founded in the early 1900s. It has undergone changes as the decades have passed, but the mission has remained the same: “Preparing students to achieve their educational and career goals.”

The main campus of FAS is at the César E. Chávez Adult Education Center at Stanislaus and P streets in downtown Fresno. It also holds classes at Manchester Center and various schools and community centers. For Raine Bumatay, the principal of FAS, she enjoys watching students make the leap into adult education. Along with the administration, her loyalty and dedication to adult education is proven by the sky-high number of students who walk through the doors of FAS. “We serve 12,000 students each year,” Bumatay says. She has held positions at various levels of education and administration for nearly three decades in FUSD. Most recently, she served as the vice principal of FAS. In her words, FAS is a miniature version of FUSD. “We build our syllabuses on the needs of the community,” she adds.


There are three main programs that support the endeavors of FAS: Adult Basic Education, Career Technical Education and Community Education. The ABE program is designed to help adults (ages 18 and older) improve their skills and knowledge in reading, writing, math, science and social studies so they can pass the GED, HiSET and TASC tests. The CTE program offers courses in four areas of study: health, information technology, education and services. The short-term, low-cost certificate programs guide students on their way to becoming a certified nursing assistant, vocational nurse, office assistant, paraprofessional, custodian, groundskeeper or school bus driver. Bumatay says the CNA and LVN certificate programs, which are popular among students, have a passing rate in the 90th percentile. FAS holds a partnership with Fresno City College so students can make an easy transition after earning their certificates. FAS also partners with San Joaquin College of Law. “I love watching students get their certificates,” Bumatay says. “It’s my pride and joy.” In addition, the certificate programs cover numerous positions in the food preparation and production industry. Unique to FAS is an on-site restaurant, GrapeVine Café, which gives students an opportunity to practice their skills as part of the Food Service program. A bonus of the Food Service program: “Stu-


dents have been able to share their family recipes,” Bumatay says. FAS is known best for its Community Education program, Bumatay says, which attracts approximately 700 students each year. The selfsustaining program includes classes and workshops in multiple areas of interest like photography, cuisine, sports, health and fitness, music and technology. Seniors (ages 55 and older) receive discounts on classes offered at Manchester Center. Details: www.fas.edu

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has been enriching the lives of older adults for more than four decades. OLLI operates on 120 university campuses throughout the United States. As part of the Division of Continuing and Global Education, OLLI has been a success for 11 years at Fresno State. It is offered to older adults (ages 50 and older) who “want to learn and explore for the sheer joy of it,” says Jill Wagner, the executive director of OLLI at Fresno State. There are three areas of activities: general sessions, short courses and field trips. General sessions and short courses are open to members who pay a fee of $40 at enrollment. Members are also granted access to the Henry Madden Library. Held in the Satellite Student Union, general sessions are one-time, largeformat lectures taught by Fresno State professors and members in the community. Subjects range from politics and ethics to engineering and biology, Wagner says. Short courses have an additional fee that varies on the topic. The spring 2017 catalog invited members to learn about the inspirational roles of Mahatma Gandhi and Alfred Hitchcock, the comedy of Patricia Routledge and the importance of documenting your memories. The best part: “No tests, no homework,” Wagner says. There are also technology-based classes in conjunction with DiscoverE, the tablet program at Fresno State.

Please see next page

AKhaja Seddighi works on a problem at the board during a math class at Fresno Adult School.

DThe Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers general sessions taught by Fresno State professors and members in the community. Subjects range from politics and ethics to engineering and biology.

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 27

continued ... Members can learn how to use their iPhone and iPad, as well as the basics of navigating iCloud, Facebook and Amazon. Field trips are open to members and the community on a first-come, first-served basis. Field trips include tours of local businesses like Bitwise Industries and museums like the Big Fresno Fair Museum, the California Science Center and the de Young Museum. Details: www.fresnostate.edu/cge/olli

Clovis Adult Education Part of Clovis Unified School District, Clovis Adult Education offers low-cost classes through programs and courses designed for adults. “Our mission is improving lives through education,” Kevin Cookingham, the director of CAE and Clovis Online School. Near Herndon and Sunnyside avenues, CAE encompasses 38 classrooms, six computer labs, three administrative offices and a bookstore. It also utilizes a number of elementary, intermediate and high school campuses in CUSD. Each year, Cookingham says, CAE enrolls approximately 10,000 students from the Fresno-Clovis area. Like FAS, there are three divisions: Academic, Career Technical Education and Community Education. The Academic program is designed to help adults earn a high school diploma, pass the GED test and improve skills in reading, writing and math. It also serves as an outlet for adults to learn English as a second language. The CTE program is divided into two areas of study: health and business. CAE provides certificate programs and workshops that are

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28 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine



DMaigy Vang helps a student in an ESL class at Fresno Adult School.



required to be a certified nursing assistant, vocational nurse, clinical medical assistant or administrative assistant. A majority of students qualify for grants such as CalWORKs. “We’re focused on success,” Cookingham says. “Bottom line is, we’re very results-oriented.” Teachers are experienced and certified through the State of California. CAE also employs a full-time career placement counselor for

students who complete the certificate programs. “We over prepare them,” says Cookingham, adding that most students have jobs before they graduate. The Community Education program is for personal growth, Cookingham says. In other words, the more than 140 courses are considered as “enrichment classes.” Classes vary in subjects like art, exercise, health and wellness, sports, money management and foreign language. For older adults, exercise classes focus on improving strength and stability. “Exercise classes for older adults are always packed,” Cookingham says. Although geared toward adult education, CAE offers a Summer Fun program for children and tweens. It runs for one month, Monday through Thursday, at Clark Intermediate School. Details: www.clovisadultschool.comCV

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 29



Think inside the [bento] box A dietitian’s tips on packing Pinterest-worthy lunches SThe Yumbox Mini Snack is packed with fruit and trail mix, while the Yumbox Original holds a protein-packed lunch of cheese cubes, deviled eggs, a peanut butter and all-fruit jam sandwich on smooth whole-wheat bread and two choices of berries.



ay goodbye to that baloney sandwich and bag of chips. The lunches kids bring to school these days can be mouthwatering works of art, thanks to the rising popularity of multi-compartment lunch boxes, but packing a bento box lunch is about more than just making food look pretty — it’s about eating for nutrition. National childhood obesity rates have doubled over the last few decades to 14 percent, says Melissa Ortiz, a longtime registered dietitian with Kaiser Permanente Fresno. “We’re seeing diseases in children that we once only saw in adults. We see increases of pre-diabetes and diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Ortiz says. “And a lot of it has to do with increase in weight.” To protect their kiddos, parents can involve them in packing healthier lunches and snacks. Here are a few tips:

Portion it out Bento box-style containers make this easy to do with their separate compartments of varying sizes. Bento boxes, traditionally used in Japanese cuisine, come in all sizes, colors and price points. Alternatively, parents can also use zip-top bags and muffin tins

30 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

to measure out helpings of fruits, vegetables, chips and more.

Pack something from each food group “Pack fruit and vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and then you can always add dairy or a dairy alternative,” Ortiz says. Meat isn’t the only source of protein — beans, hummus, nuts and seeds are also good options. And children should eat five servings of fruits and veggies per day, which means mixing them into each meal. “Incorporate them in different ways, either straight, or in pasta salad, wrapped in a pinwheel, tucked in a sandwich, as toppings for tacos or in these veggie chips,” Ortiz recommends.

Pick healthier substitutions Offer whole-grain breads and whole-grain crackers instead of white bread made from refined flour, and pick baked chips over fried, Ortiz says.


“Refined, processed carbohydrates don’t fill you, so you eat more and consume more calories,” she says. “Smooth whole-grain bread is more kid-friendly, but contains those whole grains.” Fruit-only jam is preferred over varieties made with added sugar, and air-popped popcorn is a better choice than popcorn laden with butter, Ortiz says.

Presentation, presentation, presentation Time to bust out the stickers, cookie cutters and your creativity! Cut sandwiches into fun shapes, put cute stickers on a clementine and slide fruit onto skewers to give your kids’ lunch a little pizazz. “We used coffee stirrers as skewers because they’re not sharp,” Ortiz says. The options are endless, so lunch never has to be boring. “Have fun with your kids,” Ortiz says. “And let them have a say in what you’re packing.” CV


ALet your kids get creative by turning their lunch into a work of art. This turkey-and-cheese sandwich frog will hop right into their mouths, along with a side of pita chips and hummus, carrots and blueberries.

DFor little vegetarians and vegans, a peanut butter and apple sandwich paired with fruit, veggies and hummus pack lots of healthy protein and micronutrients.

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 31




Chicken dinner Fresno foodies aflutter about fowl

ARudy Jr.’s Chicken Man has been serving ribs, barbecued beans, garlic bread and chicken for more than 50 years. Janet Wash was an employee and took over ownership of the restaurant when Rudy Jr. passed away in 2015.

32 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

BY: Cyndee Fontana-Ott | PHOTOGRAPHY: Tomas Ovalle


n 1928, supporters of the presidential candidate Herbert Hoover famously promised “a chicken in every pot” if he was elected. We’re still fans of the bird today whether it’s cooked in a pot or fried, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, skewered, roasted ... you get the idea. In fact, chicken consumption has grown mightily over the last few decades. The National Chicken Council estimates the average American eats more than 90 pounds of this poultry annually — up from around 28 pounds in 1960. Maybe the growth is influenced by healthier eating habits or the way chicken seems to fit into just about every kind of cuisine. Whatever it is, you’ll find plenty of traditional, fresh and intriguing temptations on the menus of Central Valley restaurants. Locally, restaurant owners and chefs have built reputations on classics such as fried chicken and chicken parmigiana or newer traditions like chicken

kebabs and chicken salads. Here, we offer a sampling of this landscape. If you’ve heard of Rudy Jr.’s Chicken Man, you’re probably a lover of fried chicken. This joint — at Weber and Hughes avenues, just off Clinton Avenue and Highway 99 in an older part of Fresno — celebrated its 50th anniversary in business in April. The restaurant has been through a lot, including the death of Rudy (Wagner) Jr. a few years ago and the accessibility headache caused by the demolition of the Clinton Avenue overpass related to the high-speed rail project. Through it all, the place has stayed true to its namesake in serving up a mouth-watering brand of fried fowl. Owner Janet Wash, who first worked for years as a waitress at Rudy’s, says the restaurant is known for its Southern-style fried chicken, hearty portions and home cooking. “It’s just good,” she says. “This is fried chicken like grandma’s cooking.” For starters, the recipe is pretty much a secret — centralvalley.com

“Tastes like your mouth went to church...”

AD Chef Paul Pearson owns Chef Paul’s Café in downtown Fresno. The restaurant serves chicken and waffles. Pair them with scrambled eggs and onions with melted cheese on top for a hearty breakfast.

— Yelp reviewer, about the chicken and waffles at Chef Paul’s Café

AAndrea Martin enjoys fried chicken at Chef Paul’s Café.

“not very many people know it,” Wash acknowledges. And Rudy’s doesn’t cook your bird until you order it, so there’s a wait of about 20 minutes (or longer if the fryers are full). The payoff is a fresh, tender and juicy piece. Wash says the most customers order that menu staple; the newer chicken and waffles entree is becoming another favorite. “Rudy wouldn’t do it because he didn’t think it sounded good,” Wash says. The restaurant now has perfected a recipe that includes its signature chicken along with a waffle batter studded with bacon. She eats her waffle with lots of butter and cut-up pieces of chicken splashed with syrup. Also known for fried chicken — and entrees like


smothered chicken, wings and chicken and waffles — is Chef Paul’s Café on F Street in downtown Fresno. Chef Paul Pearson is a titan in the food industry with decades of experience. Now, he applies that knowledge to the Southern cooking that forms the restaurant’s tasty backbone. If you like chicken, you’ll find it right here. Pearson says he sells roughly a dozen cases of wings every week in addition to all the other chicken that’s served at the bustling café. After all, chicken is the restaurant’s No. 1 seller. The crowd on Yelp is full of praise for Chef Paul’s Café. “Hands down the best fried chicken I ever had,” says one. Another says the “amazing” chicken and waffles “taste like your mouth went to church.” While Pearson is understandably proud of the fried fryers, the dishes don’t stop there. You’ll find specials like jerk chicken rotating through the restaurant menu; his catering business also offers a variety of options. Pearson says some recipes just come to him. “I’ll have a premonition about something and I’ll just go make it,” he says. Anyone who likes an Italian spin on their bird might look for Andiamo Ristorante Italiano in Clovis, just Please see next page

Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 33

ASome of the spices on the flavor profile of the Caspian Grill include cumin, crushed pepper, and cayenne. Caspian Grill serves its spicy chicken kabob with rice and vegetables.

continued ... across from the Sierra Vista Mall on Shaw Avenue. Here, the options range from the traditional chicken (or pollo) parmigiana to the pollo buona donna (chicken and jumbo prawns sautéed with roasted red peppers, mushrooms and cream). Jennifer Paolilli, who owns Andiamo with husband Carlo, says chicken is popular. There’s always a special in addition to seemingly endless menu choices. “There are so many things that you can do with chicken,” she says of its culinary versatility. Dishes like pollo marsala (a boneless breast sautéed with marsala wine and mushrooms) and pollo siracusana (chicken breast sautéed with roasted red peppers, capers, garlic, olive oil and white wine) are gaining in popularity among diners. “We sell a lot of chicken,” she says. Sometimes, people who aren’t big fans of fish are looking for a healthy option. The grilled chicken salad is another customer favorite. Chicken is also a star at Caspian Grill, which recently opened at Kings Canyon Road and Fowler Avenue in Fresno’s Sunnyside area.

The grill features a combination of Mediterranean and Persian food such as falafel, hummus, kebabs and more. Owner Firouzeh Ahmadi says she likes to stay on the healthy side of eating. That means this is a no-fry zone (except for the French fries) and lots of fresh, from-scratch entrees served with sides like grilled vegetables, basmati rice and Persian salad. Customers line up for the chicken, which Ahmadi says is probably the most popular protein served at the restaurant. You can order your poultry in a kebab, as an entrée or in a salad, for example. She doesn’t just slap the chicken on the grill. Pieces are first marinated for 24 to 48 hours in a signature blend of spices. “I want to make sure all the spices get in, so that every bite you take you can taste the spices,” she says. While chicken isn’t necessarily the star at The Vineyard Restaurant in Madera, the menu offers interesting takes on the popular bird. Located at the crossroads of Highway 99 and Highway 145, the restaurant with traditional Italian and modern flair is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The chicken choices range from a luscious carbonara to a Santa Fe sandwich. But according to owner Chris Mariscotti, the Valley chicken salad is “by far the most popular” chicken dish on the menu. The salad features a naturally raised chicken breast along with baby lettuce, dried figs, caramelized onions, toasted almonds and arugula tossed with honey-thyme mustard. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced and “it’s a wonderful dish,” Mariscotti says. The Vineyard also presents a play on chicken and waffles — and this one has an edge. The sriracha maple fried chicken is a crispy fried breast drizzled with sweet and spicy sriracha maple dressing over beer-battered fries (stand-ins for the waffle). CV

FFPollo Parmigiana is a breaded chicken breast topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese then baked. Andiamo Ristorante Italiano in Clovis serves chicken in many different ways.

FThe Vineyard Restaurant in Madera has some great chicken dishes including a chicken breast salad.

34 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine


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What a

RUSH Strike it rich by visiting one of California’s Gold Rush towns

BY: Cyndee Fontana-Ott | PHOTOGRAPHY: Lisa Boulton, Ben Davidson, Max Whittaker, Carol Richardson, Menka Belgal, Cindy Rochelle


he shiny promise of gold lured waves of prospectors into California and towns that seemed to materialize overnight. Over the past 150 years or so, some of those settlements boomed while others busted. You can get a taste of this singular chapter in our history by visiting a genuine Gold Rush town. Many of these remain small — a few are mere ghost towns — but each has a story to tell about a colorful past and present. Numerous survivors are clustered in the nearby Sierra. Places like Jamestown, Murphys, Angels Camp and more embrace their roots through historic buildings and adventures like gold panning. Jamestown sits on the Highway 108/49 corridor in Tuolumne County — roughly 100 miles or so north of Fresno and east of Stockton. While Sonora is larger and has gold country roots, Jamestown has the distinction of being the spot where gold was first discovered in Tuolumne County, according to the visitors bureau. (The bureau website, www.visittuolumne.com, is a good resource for those traveling into the area.) As word spread about the discovery near Woods Creek in 1848, miners poured into the area. The town that sprouted was named for entrepreneur George F. James, who sold food and other supplies to the miners. Jamestown endured the typical boom-and-bust arc of the Gold Rush, but some of that era’s charm remains in the historic downtown district. A notable survivor is the 1859 National Hotel (www.national-hotel.com), one of the oldest operating hotels in California. It’s been remodeled over the years but the small (nine-room) boutique hotel and bed and breakfast has a rich history that includes tales of Prohibition raids, gambling and legalized prostitution and even a few ghosts. (You might encounter Flo, whose fiancé was gunned down inside the hotel just after Christmas. She was found days later in her room, dressed in her wedding gown, dead — apparently from a broken heart.) Today’s National Hotel features an upscale restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine with homegrown herbs and homemade bread, an original Gold Rush saloon and an actual gold mine. Alas, the water-filled mine shaft is capped. Proprietor Stephen Willey, who has owned the hotel for the past 43 years, says many guests are headed to Yosemite National Park or looking for a Gold Rush experience.

FDowntown Angels Camp is home to quaint shops and restaurants and maybe a few famous jumping frogs.

Please see next page 36 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine



Central Valley Magazine | AUGUST 2017 37

continued ...

FAltaville Grammar School is on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves as an example of a typical schoolroom of the 19th century.

SThe 1859 Jamestown National Hotel & Restaurant is said to be home to Flo, a mischief-making ghost. It is also home to an acclaimed restaurant and rooms designed to make your stay comfortable.

38 AUGUST 2017 | Central Valley Magazine

For example, you can ride the rails at the nearby Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (www.railtown1897.org), which features steam and diesel locomotives that have been moviemaker favorites (film credits include “High Noon,” “East of Eden” and “Unforgiven”). Or, try your hand at prospecting — National Hotel guests can even pay their tab in gold. Willey says it doesn’t happen very often, but he has a scale at the ready. And, in tantalizing fashion, he added: “Geologists say 90 percent of the gold is still in the ground.” For more immersion in gold country history, take a trip to Columbia State Historic Park (about 15 miles north of Jamestown off Highway 49). In this living Gold Rush town (www.visitcolumbiacalifornia.com), you can wander along wooden sidewalks, pan for gold, ride a stagecoach, take in a meal, explore the brick school house and cemetery or mingle with townsfolk dressed in period attire. Once known as the “Gem of the Southern Mines,” Columbia yielded more than $1 billion in gold (today’s dollars) between the 1850s and the 1870s and, for a time, was the second largest city in California. The town declined as mining began to fade and, by the 1940s, many structures were considered unsafe. Restoration work began in 1945 when the town became a state park. Today, it holds California’s largest single collection of Gold Rush-era buildings. “It’s a very authentic experience,” says Jennifer Lopez, marketing manager at the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau. The golden thread also runs through nearby Calaveras County, home to historic towns like Angels Camp and Murphys. You might remember that Angels Camp (www.destinationangelscamp.com) is forever entwined

with Mark Twain, who heard a story about a jumping frog in a local saloon and then penned “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” The town (aka the City of Angels Camp) is named for Henry Angel, a former prospector who abandoned the search for gold in favor of opening a trading post in 1848. Angels Camp, near the intersection of Highway 4 and 49, features a historic downtown, a museum with relics of mining history and proximity to New Melones Lake. You can learn to pan for gold on a tour with Mike Darby of Goldrush Originals (www.goldrushoriginals.com), a local artist and guide. “We find something every time and we don’t plant it,” says Darby, who has lived most of his life in Angels Camp. Don’t think about quitting your day job — it’s usually a flake or small piece. Still, “we get excited if we see a pea-sized nugget or even a split pea-sized nugget,” he says. Another nearby gold country option is Murphys (no apostrophe because it’s named for two brothers who founded a trading post and gold mining operation in 1848). Dubbed the “Queen of the Sierra,” the town just northeast of Angels Camp features historic buildings, an Old Timers Museum with a multicultural collection and a blossoming wine and craft beer scene. Guided walking tours feature a look at the home of Albert Michelson, the country’s first Nobel Prize winner. Michelle Plotnik, an architect who handles communications for the Murphys Business Association (www.visitmurphys.com), says an interesting stop is the old jail known as “The Pokey.” It’s more welcoming now since the exterior is landscaped with flowers. Finally, one of the Gold Rush era’s most legendary towns still exists — frozen in time — on the eastern side of the Sierra. Now a state park, Bodie was home to one of the richest gold discoveries in the West. Roughly 200 miles and a long haul from the Central Valley, Bodie sits at about 8,400 feet on Highway 270 northeast of Yosemite and near the Nevada border. The original town was named for W.S. Bodey, who found a promising strike in 1859 but died in a snowstorm before he could mine it. As other mines played out, Bodie (www.bodiefoundation.org) became more popular. A mid-1870s strike


in the Bunker Hill Mine (10,000 tons of silver and gold ore) pushed the settlement to boomtown status with roughly 8,500 residents by 1879. Along with wellheeled families, the mines generated dozens of rowdy saloons and dance halls and an unsavory element (the so-called “Bad Man of Bodie” is believed to be a composite of many outlaws and ruffians). The mines faded and, aided by several disastrous fires, Bodie was a ghost town by the 1940s. The surviving portion was designated a state historic park and national historic landmark in 1962. (Admission costs $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 17.) Today, the state — with help from the Bodie Foundation — preserves the town in a state of “arrested decay.” Features include roughly 200 structures, a museum and a stamp mill that extracted gold from rock using mercury (and later cyanide).


The question of actual ghosts is open for debate; supervising ranger Josh Heitzmann says he hasn’t seen any. But Terri Geissinger, the foundation’s business manager and historian/guide, pointed to strange noises and lights that spontaneously flash on and off. “I have seen some funny things, that’s for sure,” she says. The foundation is working on locating unmarked graves, making repairs in an old cemetery and raising money to fix buildings like the DeChambeau Hotel. It was one of the structures damaged in the Dec. 28 earthquake. Geissinger also says they think they’ve found Bodey’s bones; his unmarked gravesite had been lost over time. That story will take center stage Aug. 12 at the annual Friends of Bodie Day, the nonprofit’s major fundraising event. CV

ASonora, one of the oldest cities in the state, used to be known as the “Queen of the Southern Mines.”

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Evenings on the Savannah Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s newest summer event series brought live entertainment and custom, gourmet dinner entrees to its African Adventure exhibit, giving local guests a unique seasonal experience in the months of May and June.

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Run for Meals Poverello House hosted its fifth annual Run for Meals 5K Run and 2-Mile Walk event on Saturday, June 3 at Woodward Park. All proceeds benefited the shelter, so it can continue to provide vital services for Fresno’s poor, hungry and homeless populations.


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Tri-City Bark for Life The American Cancer Society Bark for Life event was held on Saturday, June 10 at Sierra Bicentennial Park in Clovis. The canine companion walk is a fun-filled opportunity for local dogs and their owners to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer.





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Taste of Fresno Taste of Fresno — a free, all-ages event — took place on Sunday, June 11 at Full Circle Brewing Co. in downtown Fresno. It showcased a sample of what Fresno has to offer in the areas of food, crafts, music, art and more.

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1 Mike Suderman and Whitney Dickens 2 Brenda Lopez 3 John Matcham and Pete Salazar 4 Heidi Scott, Lori Walkins and Tony Castro 5 Hazey Autumn 6 Cooper Hutchens, Isabella Hutchens and Edward Quiroz 7 George Anthony 8 Full Circle Brewing Co. PHOTOGRAPHY: Jessica Rogozinksi

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