Leading San Pedro

“This town eats its own.” I recall a friend on the San Pedro Chamber board saying this while lamenting that San Pedrans aren’t great at supporting their local leaders.

Whether he’s right or wrong, I believe that for many years San Pedro hasn’t done a good job of grooming future leaders. For example, before I launched San Pedro Magazine, I was not active in the community, but got involved because it now became my business to do so. The first major event I attended was a chamber luncheon attended by approximately 250 people. Although I was born and raised in San Pedro, with tons of family and friends here, I didn’t recognize more than two or three people.

Over the next several years, I became friends with many of the luncheon attendees. A large majority of them are wonderful people who do a nice job serving a community they love, but most came here from somewhere else. On one hand, it’s good to have leaders in your community that can provide a fresh pair of eyes on its issues, but on the flipside, I’ve found it challenging for many of them to accurately reflect the will of the majority of the people because they lacked the relationships to be able to do that. Furthermore, it’s not a very sustainable model to have to constantly find leadership arriving from someplace else instead of developing leaders that grew up in the community.

In recent years, things have begun to dramatically change. Our councilman, Joe Buscaino, was born and raised in San Pedro, as was the newly elected president of ILWU Local 13, Chris Viramontes. These are young dynamic leaders with the ability to attract their peers into getting involved to create a powerful leadership force for our community. In addition to Joe and Chris, I’d like to add the name of Anthony Pirozzi to the list of young San Pedro leaders that can brighten the future of our town. And I’m not the only one to think so; the San Pedro Chamber is giving Anthony its annual Leadership Award.

Anthony is one of my best friends. We met in high school when everyone called him Yog (which I still call him). In fact, I had to get past knowing him as Yog, who we loved teasing as kids, to recognize Anthony, a man that has grown into a great leader. The first glimpse occurred when Anthony joined our other friends, Dave Stanovich, Ron Galosic, Scott Lane, and Tony Cordero in leading the fight to secure baseball fields for Eastview Little League on Knoll Hill. Anyone that’s either played at Eastview or had a kid play at Eastview (I’m in both categories) will probably agree that their effort to have the fields built is one of our town’s finest accomplishments in the past few years.

The fact that Anthony threw so much of himself at the campaign is not a surprise. Anthony and I spend countless hours on the phone (his wife, Carolyn calls me his second wife) and the thing that comes up a lot is his passion for helping kids get better. He’s very proud that although he was a mediocre student at San Pedro High, he was able to get good grades at Harbor, go on to earn a degree at Cal Poly Pomona, and become an aerospace engineer. He uses his role as a Boeing executive to speak to kids about their futures and has facilitated more than $100,00 in donations from Boeing to San Pedro charities that serve children, such as the Boys & Girls Club, Top Sail, Toberman House, and Cabrillo Aquarium.

After the Save Eastview campaign had concluded, I convinced Anthony to join me on the board of directors at the San Pedro Chamber. Upon his election as chairman of the board, I began to realize that our generation has begun to assume the mantle of leadership. I can say with firsthand knowledge that we are fortunate to have leaders like Anthony, Joe, and Chris because they care so much for this town that we all love and they all share the same passion for grooming the next generation of San Pedrans into great citizens and great leaders. spt

Jack Baric can be reached at jackbaric@hotmail.com.

Point Fermin Elementary Celebrates 100 Years

Point Femin Marine Science Magnet Elementary School, the smallest public elementary school in San Pedro, recently celebrated its 100th birthday. With just over 300 students, this small school has been providing education to generations of families in the community. Many of the current students have parents and grandparents who attended the school.

“It is great to see my daughter Trinity having the same wonderful experiences that I treasured when I was there,” says Rosa Juarez, a Point Fermin Elementary Alumni and current volunteer at the school.

The marine science studies focus is a natural fit for the school, with the ocean and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium located within walking distance. A partnership between the school and the aquarium gives the students the opportunity to learn hands-on in the aquarium lab, at the tide pools and on the beach. Students walk from the school to the ocean and aquarium as a classroom on a regular basis. Keeping with the marine science focus, the fourth grade students spend an afternoon sailing on a tall ship and the fifth grade students participate in an overnight education experience on Catalina Island.

The school garden is a labor of love for teachers, students and parents. Students plant tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots and other vegetables and cultivate them for eating. The garden is a resource for nutritional education and an area for classes to read together under the shade of a large tree. Students sell seeds as a school fundraiser and use the funds raised for equipment for the garden.

Architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Burns designed the Spanish colonial-styled administrative building at the school. Hunt and Burns also designed the Automobile Club of Southern California on Figueroa Street at Adams Boulevard, the Ebell Club and Theater on Wilshire Boulevard and the Southwest Museum in Highland Park.

This close-knit school is serious about studying, which is evident by its increasing test scores. On any given day, you will find parent volunteers assisting with art activities, helping in the classroom, working in the garden and raising funds for all the extra educational experiences offered by the school. Thanks to grants, the students have been able to attend field trips at the Aquarium of the Pacific, California Science Center and the Cerritos Theater for the Performing Arts. Students have also benefited from programs such as the Columbia Writing Program and Accelerated Reader. The Natural History Museum, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, and Story Pirates (an interactive writing program) have been visitors to the Point Fermin campus bringing their interactive programs directly to the students.

“It is a momentous occasion as we celebrate 100 years of excellence in education at our school. I have always referred to Pt. Fermin as ‘the little lighthouse on the hill.’ We have stood as a shining light of hope, resource, and academic distinction that has endured for 100 years. Yes, we have a very proud history, but we also have a bright and promising future,” says Bonnie Taft, principal of Point Fermin Elementary.

“I know that as we begin the next hundred years, we will continue to be a brilliant beacon of light. A beaming light that brightly shines in our community, and offers continued merit, significance, and worth, in educating our wonderful students to be outstanding citizens of the 21st century. Students that not only excel in education, but students who will become our future leaders, innovators, and champions of the best in the human spirit that will touch every corner of the world,” concludes Taft. spt

For more information about Point Fermin Elementary, visit www.pointfermin-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.

Tidepool Wonders

Come and explore the low tides of the season on the rocky shore with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Bring your family and friends to the aquarium’s John M. Olguin Auditorium for an informative slide show, followed by a walk led by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Education Staff and volunteers to the nearby Point Fermin State Marine Park.

The tidepools offer protection to a variety of local tidepool animals and seaweeds. Among the organisms are tidepool sculpin, sea urchins, sea hares, hermit crabs, feather-boa kelp, and an occasional octopus. An accessible pathway leads to the edge of the tidepools.

This is a free event; however, reservations are required for groups of ten or more. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Non-slip shoes and outdoor clothing are recommended for navigating the slippery, rocky shore.

“Walk Cabrillo” Guided Tour

Explore the shore at Cabrillo Beach. Join the “Walk Cabrillo” guided tour of the Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park habitats from 1 to 3 p.m.

This free walk will include guided interpretation of inner Cabrillo Beach, saltmarsh, outer wave-swept sandy beach, and the tidepools of the Point Fermin State Marine Park. Participants will learn about the cultural history as well as the natural history of the area.

Families are encouraged to participate and reservations are recommended for groups. Participants should meet in the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium courtyard.