In early May, 31 Scripps Ranch High School students were suspended for two days after a controversial dance video titled “SRHS Twerk Team 2013,” was shot on campus, using school equipment, and posted on YouTube. The SRHS administration consulted with high-ranking district officials and the district’s legal department. It was determined the students would be suspended because their actions constituted “sexual harassment.”
The suspended students included 28 girls and three boys; six of the 31 were seniors. The suspensions did not automatically lead the seniors to be banned from prom or graduation. According to the SRHS Student Handbook, any student suspended during their senior year may attend a Senior Appeal Panel Hearing. The panel decides about the senior activities.
As for the music video, one student allegedly told the others he was working on a project for his video production class. A district source tells us the student made a music video, described to the Newsletter as “different and appropriate,” and turned it in as his project. However, the student made a second video with the twerking dance and linked it to obscene music and language. That was not part of his project.
Some parents are fighting the suspensions, concerned this will affect their student’s college acceptance. Some families and kids who were in the video are reportedly devastated—saying it was a situation of a “good kid” making a “bad choice.”
Many parents asked how the students who shot the video could roam campus without supervision. Video production students are given passes that allow them to videotape their projects around campus. That privilege has now been revoked. Also, why was the video production teacher not aware of this video? While we asked the question, we were told since it is a personnel issue, it cannot be discussed.
Fifty-three high school and middle school principals in the district signed a letter of support for the SRHS administration. The letter was sent to the superintendent and the school board. In addition, SRHS counselors sent a private letter to the school board, addressed specifically to trustee Kevin Beiser, who oversees SRHS. The letter rebuked him for speaking out against the discipline without having all the information and asked him to apologize. The letter was leaked to the media. Also, there was a petition posted to Facebook in support of the students.
The school board discussed this issue in a closed door session on Tuesday, May 14. After the meeting, Beiser gave us the following statement: “California state law (education code) stipulates that a school board cannot change a suspension—only a principal can. School boards can overturn expulsions, not suspensions. However, state law does allow for students to appeal…information in their student record. All parents have been notified of the appeals process…It was reported [at the closed door meeting] that all seniors involved appealed for reinstatement of privileges (different than appealing information in a student record) with the site review panel. All seniors will be able to attend prom, grad night, and walk at graduation—a site-based decision.” Some parents vowed to continue to fight to get the suspension off their student’s record.
Principal Ann Menna told us that she is focused on moving forward and working to put SRHS in the positive light it deserves, including focusing on the students’ impressive academic achievements.
Skateboard Safety—Wear a Helmet, Avoid Tragedy
This is the story of two Scripps Ranch friends and a life-changing accident. Robbie Netzke, an 8th grader at Marshall Middle School, and Aidan Kassem-Courtney, a freshman at Scripps Ranch High School, have been friends and next-door neighbors in the Loire Valley community of Scripps Ranch for a decade. They have enjoyed the lifestyle our community affords and have had their share of challenges as well. Their homes were destroyed in the Cedar Fire and on a recent day after school, a skateboarding accident caused the young men to face another life-changing event.
Aidan tells what happened: Robbie was skateboarding down Rue Chamberry. He wasn’t going very fast but his skateboard hit a seam in the street. He flew off the skateboard and skidded on his face.[He was not wearing a helmet.] I raced to him and he was in a lot of pain and there was a lot of blood coming from the side of his head and arms. He was in the middle of the street, so I pulled him off the street to a lawn. I called 911. The operator told me to put pressure on the areas that were bleeding and to keep doing that until the fire truck and ambulance arrived. I was relieved when I heard the sirens. They quickly got Robbie onto a stretcher and to the hospital.
Aidan’s mother, Gael Courtney, recalls that day: Aidan came home with blood on his hands, shirts, and shoes. He calmly told me what happened. Robbie is the nicest kid and we worried about his head injury and we prayed for his recovery. Happily, Robbie is better. For years we have told our kids to wear their helmets, but most of the time they leave the house without them. Seeing Robbie’s injury and long recovery has our kids aware that the helmet law may not be “stupid” after all!
Robbie’s mother, Joanna Netske, recalls this life-changing moment: The day this accident occurred, our worst nightmare came. We are so grateful for Aidan’s decisive response to such a scary scene. His quick action in calling 911 and administering first aid was critical. The days that followed were such an ordeal, watching and waiting for the worst to just be over, and praying for his body to fight and heal.
Robbie’s attitude was stellar and he absolutely was in the best care in the Rady Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit. One of the latest procedures in brain trauma treatment was swiftly administered by Dr. Meltzer and his staff and nurses. We truly believe those actions saved our son.
We experienced a new kind of strength that comes from within during this time. Robbie is a strong and brave young man, and we were absolutely thrilled to see him make this amazing recovery. Robbie has learned a valuable lesson about regret and gratitude. It has humbled us as a family and brought our marriage even closer.
We are so pleased to have an opportunity to express our gratitude for the gracious outreach and encouragement we received. So many family, friends, and neighbors deeply touched our lives in a profound way, especially for Robbie.
Robbie does not remember the accident but offers these words: First, I want to thank my friend Aidan. He quickly responded and did not panic after the accident and probably saved my life. Next, I want to thank the community for supporting me throughout my recovery. Of course, this event could have been avoided if I had worn a helmet while I was on the skateboard. I would like kids to know it’s a simple assessment of risk and they should not take the chance like I did.
Joanna Netzke continues: Like every parent, we addressed the issue of helmet safety over and over. We hope our story will encourage other kids to wear their helmets and save another child from a really harmful outcome. By the way, Robbie’s skateboards went into the garbage. Robbie said he was really OK with that!
Joanna says that due to his injuries, Robbie can never play some contact sports.
The State of California Vehicle Code Section 21212—Youth Bicycle Helmets Minors states: 21212. (a) A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway…or any other public path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission…
The Netzke family would like to thank the community for its incredible support after Robbie’s accident. Neighbors brought meals and provided any help that was needed. In addition, Marshall Middle School teachers ensured that Robbie did not get behind in his classes. The family is so appreciative of all the MMS teachers who went above and beyond to help Robbie keep up with his studies. Also, teacher Guy Henry came to their house to work with Robbie, and teacher Ronnie Power visited Robbie at the hospital.
MMS Bus Program
Sign up now for the Marshall Middle School Parent-Paid Bus Program. Information about next year’s program is on the MMS website at [www.marshallmiddle.org]. This popular program not only gets kids to school safely and on time, but also helps ease traffic on Pomerado Road during the busy morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times. Registration for next year’s program is open. The forms can be found on the MMS website.
Protect Our Homes and Community
I’m writing this on Thursday, May 2. There is a “Red Flag Warning” in effect for today and tomorrow. Meaning: “Weather events may result in extreme fire behavior within 24 hours.”
The Summit Fire in Riverside County has burned 3,000 acres and is 65% contained after five days. The Springs Fire near Ventura is 10,000 acres and only 10% contained. Evacuations are still in effect. Fire fighting assets are spread thin.
Local fires burned yesterday along Highway 52 and near Ramona. Today there are fires in Kelton, Temecula, Valley Center, and along highway 67. The 92131 forecast for today and tomorrow is: Santa Ana winds with gusts to 35 mph—temperature 93 degrees—humidity below 10%.
What to do? Here are our recommendations if a fire is near our community:
- Unreel all outdoor hoses—front and back—and attach jet nozzles.
- Unlock the side gates to give firefighters access to your backyard.
- Get out the Barricade Gel. Shake it and attach the applicator nozzle to the hose nearest the east side of the house.
- Fold up umbrellas and move flammable furniture away from the house.
- Close the windows and blinds.
- Cycle the irrigation system.
- Plan what you’ll do if an evacuation is ordered: What to take? Where you’ll go? Discuss this with family.
- Be alert! A spark can cause a major wildfire. If you see or smell smoke and don’t know the source, call 911.
The 2013 fire season has arrived four to five months early. Homes with dense, dry brush within 100 feet are in jeopardy when those dry Santa Ana winds blow. If you have questions, please contact the Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council at 945-6303.
Perfect Example of How Neighborhood Watch Works
Neighborhood Watch (NW) works because of our block captains. These volunteers help organize their street into a group that looks out for one another. That’s important when it comes to protecting your home and cars from burglary and theft.
As an example, I had a questionable person come to my door one recent morning—a young woman who said she was at my home to pick up a friend for school. When I asked, she told me the name of the “friend.” I knew there was no family by that name on my street. I followed her to her car and saw there were no license plates on the front or back. I flagged down a neighbor jogging by with her cell phone, and she took a picture of the car as it sped away. The young woman was likely casing my home to see if the coast was clear.
Because of an active NW on my street, I knew from our roster that there was no family by that name. I sent out a notice to my group letting them know what happened. Another neighbor said he would check his security camera video, and he was able to send me video of her leaving another home, which I forwarded to police. This cooperation to fight crime is what NW is about. Get involved. It works!
On Wednesday, June 26, we will honor our volunteer block captains. Look for your invitation via email and RSVP to [[email protected]].
Remember, if you see suspicious activity, call the SDPD non-emergency line at 858-484-3154. If you witness a crime in progress or feel in danger, call 911. If you are not a member of SRCANW, sign up at [www.scrippsranch.org/watch].
Cheryl Shaw, SRCANW Chair
School Security and RSVP
School security is a priority for the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP). In my recent ride-along that was highlighted in the May SRCA Newsletter, I discovered that each day RSVP visits every school in Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa, both public and private. These visits are a “watch” and “look,” helping ensure children’s safety.
To further their lesson in safety and “No, Go, Tell,” the kindergarten class at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School had the RSVP volunteers speak to them, and they were welcomed with a “Thank You” banner. Volunteers Vanessa Schumrt and Richard Norbraten spoke to the children about their daily visits to their school and other places. “Stranger Danger” was immediately mentioned by the students and examples were shared about what to do if a stranger approaches them. The RSVP volunteers enjoyed their visit.
RSVP is a vital program to our neighborhood. We visit the elderly in the You Are Not Alone (YANA) program, do vacation home visits, patrol shopping centers and banks, and are always looking around. Can you donate 3½ days a month? You must have a valid California driver’s license, be at least 50 years old, and retired or semi-retired. Please contact John Sunde, at 538-8156 or [[email protected]] for information. If you would like to ride along and see what we do, please contact John and we can schedule one. Our community needs your help.
Pat Clark, RSVP Board Member
Symphony in the Park’s First Concert of the Season
We are excited about our first concert of the season! The Ultimate Stones are playing the Symphony in the Park on Sunday, June 9, starting at 6 pm in Hoyt Park. This group is a Rolling Stones tribute band that recreates an exciting concert experience with all look-alike performers. This concert is generously hosted by Marrokal Design and Remodeling, an award-winning design and build team that you can trust to revive the heart of your home.
This year, in addition to our wonderful concert hosts and supporters who donate to keep us running, we are raising money while supporting local businesses. On Sunday and Monday, June 9 and 10, when you visit Chile Peppers Mexican Eatery with one of our flyers, they will generously donate 20% of the purchase to us. Find the flyer at [www.symphonyinthepark.org] and our Facebook site, plus we will hand them out at the concert.
We also will host a Summer Wine/Beer Tasting, a benefit for Kid’s Music, in July. More details and tickets can be found on our website. If you would like to become a concert host or donate to our organization, please contact us through our website.
All our concerts are on Sundays at 6 pm in Hoyt Park, except for our holiday concert, which starts at 5 pm.
- June 9—The Ultimate Stones, Rolling Stones tribute
- July 14—The Detroit Underground, Motown/funk
- Aug. 11—Pete Johnson and Jus’ Blues, Baby, plus an opening band
- Sept. 8—Sirens Crush, current hits
- Oct. 6—BETAMAXX, ’80s music
- Dec. 1—Holiday concert
If you are new to the area or have not heard of our annual concerts, we are a nonprofit organization that brings live music to the community and gives back to Scripps Ranch schools with donations to their music programs. Spread the word this season, invite someone who hasn’t been before, and consider donating. These concerts rely on your donations. Thank you.
We keep updated plans on our website, noted above, and for real time updates become a friend on Facebook. Just search Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park on [www.Facebook.com] to show your support. We’ll see you in the park!
Scripps Ranch Unites to Help Celebrate More Birthdays
For the second year, the Relay For Life is coming to Scripps Ranch. It’s a unique 24-hour event that mobilizes communities to celebrate cancer survivors, remember love ones lost to cancer, and raise funds and awareness to fight back against this disease. The event is held annually in more than 4,800 communities in the U.S.
The event is on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, from 9 am to 9 am at the Scripps Ranch Community Park. The schedule of activities includes the Opening Ceremony and Survivor Celebration on Saturday at 9 am, the Luminaria Ceremony at 9 pm, and the Closing Fight Back Ceremony on Sunday at 8 am. Throughout the day, as walkers circle the course, there will be entertainment, fitness activities, and food and beverages.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating More Birthdays…,” and all of you are invited to join the “party” by forming a relay team, sponsoring the event, or joining the festivities. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. If you would like more information, go to [www.RelayForLife.org/ScrippsRanchCa], visit the Relay For Life of Scripps Ranch Facebook page, or email the event chair, Prima Bernabe, at [[email protected]].
Scripps Youth Choir Heads to the Vatican!
We first told you about the Unaccompanied Minors, a group of young teens from Scripps Ranch who are passionate about their choral education, in the December SRCA Newsletter. Now, they have been officially approved by Vatican staff to perform a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. All repertoire performed is a cappella. The group is an extension of the nationally ranked Chamber Choir at Marshall Middle School (MMS) from 2011–2012. The group is led by MMS’s outstanding choir teacher, Katherine Girvin.
The kids are scheduled to perform on Friday, July 5, at 5 pm. They will do four numbers: Ave Maria, Plorate filii Israel, Jubilate Deo, and Sicut Cervus. They have promised to share their amazing adventure with the community through the SRCA Newsletter. They want to thank the community for all of the love and support they have received. If anyone would like more information about the group or to donate to their cause, visit [www.gofundme.com/chamberbravura].
YMCA Camp Opens in June
The Rancho Family YMCA has more than 40 camps, and they are filling up quickly, so register today! This summer’s camp season begins Wednesday, June 12, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 31. Programs are for youth in grades 1–12. Among the offerings: learn the fundamentals and improve skills in basketball and soccer; and, join a flag football league. Rancho Family YMCA’s Scripps Ranch site is at 10481 Scripps Poway Parkway, behind Chase Bank. For details, call 484-8788 or visit [www.rancho.ymca.org].
Volunteer at iCan Bike Camp
Teach a child with developmental disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bike and change his or her life! We need 60 volunteers—age 16+—to jog alongside the campers Monday, Aug. 12, through Friday, Aug. 16, at Alliant International University. Visit our website at [www.crimsoncenteroutreach.org/ican-bike—formerly-lose-the-training-wheels.html], email [[email protected]], or call 740-4252 for details.
Society for the Preservation of Middle Class Wants You!
The Scripps Ranch Society for the Preservation of the Middle Class—the lawn mower guys (below)—has been marching in the SRCA 4th of July parade for 35 years. The group was founded by fun-loving friends and has continued over the years. Although most of the original members have long since retired, many more have joined. We want you to join us too!
Membership requirements are: fun-loving attitude, marching about a mile in the parade, and a mower to push. We’ll tell you all you need to know at the start of the parade. To join the fun, contact me at [[email protected]] or 395-0562.
Joe Fleming, SRSPMC Grand Poobah