CVHS Awards Diplomas to Class of 2014 | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:39



Joyful members of the Class of 2014 leap from their seats as the final diploma is presented at Thursday evening’s ceremonies at CVHS Trojan Stadium.


By Amber Simons


The sun was shining in a mostly clear sky and, as a mellow breeze blew through Trojan Stadium Thursday evening, families and friends poured in, filling the bleachers, lining the gated field, cluttering walkways and sitting on stairs.

They had come for an important and an emotional event – the CVHS Class of 2014 graduation ceremony.

The stands were speckled with balloons and handmade signs. A few balloons broke free and floated through the air above the field.

The CVHS Band and Orchestra began to play and promptly at 6:30 p.m., more than 700 graduating students entered the field in a long, single-file line of green caps and gowns and took their seats.

After a brief welcome by Student Body President Rix Linayao, a choir made up of graduating seniors sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and the CVHS Alma Mater.

Graduating senior Michelle Timm then gave a speech in which she told her fellow graduates, “Today is the day that the world becomes ours.”

“The world is changing,” she said. She then spouted some of the major issues facing the world today and asked her classmates, “Can you feel the pressure yet?”

She said they “survived it all” at CVHS and now have the skills necessary to go out into the world.

“Thanks for the adventure, CVHS, now go have another one,” she concluded.

The second speech was by graduating senior Reema Kakaday. She began with a quote from Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 Harvard commencement speech and moved on to describe her graduating class’ evolution from freshmen to seniors.

“We have honed our skill to be brave,” she said. “... We will flourish!”

The speeches were followed by a performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” by Kayla Cunningham and Russell Zen, along with the choir seniors and American Sign Language signers.

School Board President Janice Friesen expressed the importance of service and told graduates, “Decide to be happy, live with compassion and openness.”

Senior Class President Erin Cheung then presented the senior class gift, a mosaic mural on the center floor of the high school quad and said the rest of the money would go to financial aid to help other students.

With that, CVHS Principal Mary Ann Valles introduced teachers, staff and board members and thanked parents and guardians of the graduates.

Then, the distribution of diplomas began. The wind picked up as students waited to cross the stage.

When inflatable beach balls began bounced through the air over waiting graduates, teachers quickly scooped them up while students hugged, high-fived and cheered on fellow graduates.

Families and friends blew horns, rang cowbells, screamed and applauded as names were called. Graduates danced, waived and ran off the stage after receiving their diplomas.

After the last name was called, arms and graduation caps were thrown into the air.



Emergency Rescuers Train for Plane Crash in Bay | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:36



OPERATION SPLASHDOWN: First responders practice rescue procedures at a simulated plane crash into the Bay off San Leandro Marina on Friday.

By Jim Knowles


The Alameda County Fire Department and other emergency crews from the East Bay held a training exercise on Friday to prepare for a commercial airplane crash in the bay.

First responders in fire trucks and rescue vehicles descended on the San Leandro Marina from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for an exercise called “Operation Splashdown.”

Fire fighters and medics set up a triage area in the parking lot. Fire departments from several cities and the sheriff’s department launched their boats to join the Coast Guard to perform a mock rescue in the bay.

The water just off the marina is right under the approach to the main runway of Oakland International Airport. Volunteers acted as the victims of a downed airliner who were rescued by the emergency boats as a Highway Patrol helicopter circled overhead.

Bussell Leads Corbett By Half a Point | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:33




By Amy Sylvestri









In an incredibly close primary race, it appears that Hugh Bussell has defeated Ellen Corbett and will be facing incumbent Representative Eric Swalwell in the November race to represent Castro Valley and the rest of District 15 in Congress.

District 15 includes San Ramon in Contra Costa County and it was voters there that gave Bussell the edge to become one of the top-two contenders for the seat.

As of the most recent count by the Secretary of State’s office, Bussell leads Corbett by just half a percentage point.

The current overall results, with all precincts reporting, show Bussell with 25.7 percent of the vote (22,204 votes) to Corbett’s 25.2 percent (21,791 votes).

Bussell, a Republican from Livermore, got 34.6 percent of the vote in Contra Costa County compared to 24.6 percent in Alameda County.

And Corbett, a Democrat, got 18.9 percent of the vote in Contra Costa County compared to 26 percent in Alameda County.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters said that all mail-in and provisional ballots have been counted and they expect no further changes before certifying the results.

In Contra Costa County, however, 4,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted.

Incumbent Swalwell, a Democrat, received more than 49 percent of the overall District 15 votes in the June Primary.

The candidates’  final campaign financial reports before the election revealed very different war chests. Swalwell reported $1,476,722 in contributions, Corbett $211,927, and Bussell $6,040.

Corbett, a former mayor of San Leandro and current State Senate Majority Leader, did not return calls for comment.

Bussell, a high tech worker and former teacher, has never before run for major office. He said he was excited about the close results.

“It’s very, very close and right now, I’m guardedly optimistic,” said Bussell. “Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to call me ‘Top-two Hugh.’”

Bussell received about one-quarter of the votes in a district that is about one-quarter Republican. He said he didn’t want to comment just yet on getting more voters to cross party lines should he face Swalwell in November.

“I’m not ready to discuss strategy, but I do realize it is a steep hill to climb,” said Bussell. “California is practically a one-party state, but I’m interested in giving people a voice that they might not otherwise have in Congress.”

Editor’s Note: In last week’s Page 1 story, the Forum incorrectly reported that Corbett had a “narrow lead” over Bussell in the vote count. The voting results listed were from Alameda County only and did not reflect the vote count from Contra Costa County. Bussell had actually been in the lead.




County Fair Opens Today | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:33


Today is the opening day of the Alameda County Fair– and if you head out to the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton today, admission is just one dollar.

But if you are busy, you can still check out the attractions on other bargain days. June 25 admission is also just a buck and Tuesdays’ admissions are just $2. Kids get in free on Fridays, and seniors are free on Thursdays.

Whatever day you go, there will be tons of food, live music each night, prize-winning animals on display, and rides on the midway.

Attractions this year include pig racing, zip-lining, and a high dive act. And for the first time in years, there will be a fireworks spectacular on the Fourth of July.

The Alameda County Fair is open now through July 6, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., closed Mondays. The fairgrounds are at 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, Pleasanton. For more information, visit www.

–Amy Sylvestri


Happy Strange Feet | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:07



Independent Elementary School students dance and sing at their annual “Happy Strange Feet” assembly last week, dedicated to the memory of teacher Mrs. Ann Marie Strange. Every grade level performed a song and dance for the student body.


More Victories for CVHS’ Nate Moore | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:01





By Jim Knowles



Nate Moore of Castro Valley won both the long jump and the triple jump at the CIF state track and field championships in Clovis on Saturday.

Moore took both events for the second year in a row, becoming the first athlete in state history to win the events in consecutive years.

The senior won the long jump with an impressive leap of 25 feet 8 inches. He then won the triple jump with a distance of 51 feet 4 inches, the best mark for the season at the high school level.

And to top it off, between those two events, Moore ran a leg of the Trojans 400 relay team, which took second place with a time of 41.29 seconds. The team is Jalen McFerren, Cam Edwards, Moore and Aaron Jones.

In the girls triple jump, Kennedy Jones of Castro Valley took sixth place with a distance of 39 feet 5 inches.



CV Teen Seriously Hurt While Lying in Traffic Lanes Friday | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:00



By Amy Sylvestri


A teenage Castro Valley boy remained in critical condition at Eden Medical Center yesterday after he was struck by a pickup truck while lying in traffic lanes on Lake Chabot Road early last Friday.

The 16-year-old youth, whose name hasn’t been released, was hit just before 3 a.m. in the southbound lanes near the intersection of Barlow Drive, according to Officer Eric Thomas of the California Highway Patrol. It is not known why he was lying on the heavily travelled  roadway.

The driver of the truck, a Castro Valley man, remained at the scene and is cooperating in the investigation. Thomas said the driver,  who was going about 35 mph at the time, was not believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

The investigation continues and the Highway Patrol has asked anyone with any information about the incident to call 510-581-9028.



Three CVHS Students Hit By Cars In a Single Week Last Month | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:12




DANGER AT THE CROSSWALK: Although thousands of CVHS students cross here at the end of each school day, stop signs are posted only on Mabel Avenue where it intersects with Santa Maria Avenue just off the campus.

By Amber Simons


A bell sounds. As feet scurry past the gates, a skateboard’s wheels connect with the pavement. The sound of laughter and shouting signal the after-school rush.

A boy strides into the crosswalk and away from the sidewalk.

Brakes screech as a body is thrown to the pavement.

During the last week of April, three students were hit by cars, in two separate incidents, while walking home from school, according to CVHS Assistant Principal Blaine Torpey.

Around 4 p.m. on Monday, April 28, a car struck students Glenn Lauer and Tyler Yi as they started across the street in a crosswalk, according to Glenn’s mother JoAnne Lauer.

Lauer said the boys walked past a stopped truck toward the middle of the street, and were hit by a Mini Cooper as soon as they passed the truck. Both boys were injured and are on crutches, she said.

“People need to slow down,” Lauer said. “There needs to be more safety for crosswalks.”

While, right now, her focus is on helping her son feel better and getting him through the end of school, Lauer said she plans to figure out who is in charge of crosswalk safety and find a way to increase that safety.

Ann Manuel, a mother of a Castro Valley High School student, said “I tell my daughter, just like drivers have to be mindful, you have to be mindful – Stop, look and listen!”

Manuel said it might be time to revisit the idea of crosswalk guards. “Cars drive by here so fast,” she said.

Robert Parker, also a CVHS parent, said there should be flashing lights at crosswalks. He said drivers need to slow down, and students need to look both ways before crossing the street.

Another CVHS parent, Anu Samuel suggested putting in more traffic lights around the high school. She said students are not always looking before crossing the street and they need to make sure cars are stopping before entering the crosswalk.

“It’s hard to stop when we are going 20 mph,” she said. “If cars are coming, just wait.”

Parent Joanna Hancock said students who aren’t yet driving might not understand drivers’ limitations. “Students assume drivers are more aware than they are,” she said. “They assume they are seen and assume drivers can slow down.”

According to the 2014 California Driver Handbook, pedestrian deaths account for about 22 percent of all traffic fatalities.

There have been 34 pedestrian-involved traffic accidents in Castro Valley from August 1 to today, according to Eric Thomas, the local California Highway Patrol public information officer. The CHP does not track whether or not pedestrians involved in accidents are students.

Last year, there were 4 fatal accidents involving pedestrians, according to CHP Lieutenant Commander Christopher Sherry. None of those fatalities were students, he said.

The area around Castro Valley High School is marked 25 mph when children are present.

“Assuming you have good tires, good brakes and dry pavement: At 35 mph, it takes about 210 feet to react and bring the vehicle to a complete stop,” according to the drivers’ handbook.

Drivers need to pay attention to school crossing signs, watch for pedestrians and follow the rules of the road, Ann Manuel said.

Meantime, Assistant Principal Torpey is working on getting a safety podcast out to the high school student body and said he is looking into getting volunteers from the school leadership class to be at crosswalks encouraging safe crossing.



Cowboys from Around the West Share Winnings at Rowell Rodeo | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:08



Bucking broncs and bulls await their 15 seconds of fame in the rodeo arena.


By Amy Sylvestri




Thousands of people drove from miles around to check out the 94th annual Rowell Ranch Rodeo over the weekend.

One of the oldest rodeos in the nation, it brings out fans and participants not only from Northern California, but from around the world as well.

Kyle Banks and his family made the trip from Apple Valley, in Southern California.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” said Banks. “I’m a big rodeo fan because there’s nothing like it. You can feel the excitement and adrenaline.”

The competition featured over 300 riders, but it was the audience that had the most fun.

“It’s fun to see what cowboys do and how they take care of animals,” said Jayden Reddy, a kid who was at the park early to check out what Rowell Ranch calls “the Cowboy Experience.”

The event helps kids learn about the sport and see animals and techniques up close while getting a chance to talk to real cowboys.

The Rowell Ranch Rodeo began in the 1921 as a small show in Hayward organized by Harry Rowell, who became known as “the Rodeo King of the West.”

Each spring, Longhorn cattle would be gathered for branding and local cowboys would get together to show off their rodeo skills.

A few years later, the rodeo moved to it’s current location on Dublin Canyon Road off I-580.

Rowell went on to become the director of the Bay Area’s first Grand National Rodeo, in 1941 at the Cow Palace and was inducted to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

These days, the Rowell property in Castro Valley is run by the Hayward Area Recreation District, with the stipulation that, once a year on the third Sunday in May, its made available for that rodeo.

This year’s First Place Winners in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Events were:

Bareback Riding –  Casey Meroshnekoff, Red Bluff

Steer Wresting – Hunter Cure, Holiday, Texas

Barrel Racing – Benette Little, Ardmore, Oklahoma

Team Roping – Spencer Mitchell of Colusa, and Russell Cardoza of Terrebonne, Oregon

Saddle Bronc Riding – Rusty Wright of Mitford, Utah

Tie Down Roping –  Jared Ferguson of Cottonwood

Bull Riding – Cody Campbell of Summerville, Oregon

And in the local events, Will Centoni of Castro Valley finished first in Ranch Bronc Riding.



Candidate Charged With Fraud Drops Out of County Race | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:08


Kathleen Knox, the candidate for  Alameda County auditor-controller who was recently charged with six felony counts of voter fraud, has withdrawn from the race.

In a prepared statement issued over the weekend, Knox said she was “officially and respectfully” withdrawing her candidacy. “The distractions of the current events have become overwhelming, and my focus now needs to be entirely on my family, my business and my private life.”

The 49-year-old Knox was accused by the District Attorney’s office of lying about where she lived when she filed her candidacy papers listing that her home address was a residential care home in San Leandro which she owns.

Officials said Knox actually lived in Danville, where her two children attend school and where she was arrested. She is accused not only of lying about her residency, but also for voting in Alameda County elections while living in Contra Costa County.

Knox entered a not-guilty plea when she was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court shortly after her arrest

Her name will appear on the already-printed ballots for the June 3 primary election where she was opposed by Steve Manning, the only other candidate for the nonpartisan post which is currently held by Patrick O’Connell. He is not seeking reelection.

The responsibilities of the auditor-controller, are listed as the development and maintenance of the county’s accounting, payroll, audit, tax analysis, budgets and grants.


CASTRO VALLEY Ice Skater Has Dreams OF OlympicS | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:01



Marina Capatina of Castro Valley hopes to join the 2018 U.S. Olympic figure skating team. She practices at least six hours a day, including skating, gymnastic and dance lessons.

By Linda Sandsmark
As the Winter Olympics concluded in Sochi, Russia, 12-year-old Marina Capatina of Castro Valley was hard at work, hoping to qualify for the 2018 U.S. figure skating team.

The training necessary for such a lofty goal means working out five days a week, at least six hours per day. Though she foregoes a lot of typical childhood activities, Marina loves her sport.

“Almost everyone I practice with is trying to make it to the Olympics,” she says. “I work very hard to achieve that goal. You need commitment to the sport. Although you never know what may happen in four years, I try to stay positive, and I think that I can make it.”

Marina trains at the same San Jose skating club where 15-year-old Olympic sensation Polina Edmunds does. Marina cheered her friend’s “fabulous performances” in Sochi, noting that even though many skaters have talent and support, they may not be able to perform well in front of judges.

Marina’s mother Val says that her daughter has been skating since she was three, and has given up a lot to pursue her Olympic dreams.

“If she didn’t love it, she would not be in this. It’s a commitment over the years, and nothing comes easy in skating. You do 100 jumps every single day, and hope that in a year you might see the results,” says Val.

With lessons from four different coaches (jumping, choreography, etc.) and additional classes in  ballet, Pilates and gymnastics, every minute of the day is scheduled. In fact, Val and Marina grew so tired of the commute that in January they started spending most weekdays at a residence hotel in San Jose. They return on weekends to join Marina’s dad in Castro Valley.

Marina is able to keep up with her studies thanks to an online public school, California Connections Academy. She needed the flexibility of a virtual classroom due to her exhausting workout schedule.

This is her third year with California Connections, and she keeps in touch with her teacher via frequent phone calls and e-mail. Some of the classes are taught through live online instruction, where students wear headsets and can ask questions via voice or chat.

“My favorite subjects are math and science, because they’re really interesting. I like science because it’s about the natural world, and math because it’s very precise,” Marina says.

Marina was born in Walnut Creek and her parents were born in Romania, so she is fluent in both English and Romanian. She is also studying Spanish and German through her school, which provides recorded lessons and tests similar to a classroom. She spent last summer training in Germany, which gave her a chance to practice her German while competing in another country.

A You Tube video of Marina training in 2011 can be viewed online (, showing a glimpse at the workout required to become an Olympic skater.


Non-Teaching Staff Calls for Wage Increase | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 29 May 2014 11:59


By Amy Sylvestri


The non-teaching staff of the Castro Valley Unified School District took a stand at the school board meeting last week after working for nearly a year with no contract.

The Classified California School Employees Association, local Chapter 52 – which includes cafeteria workers, office assistants, bus drivers, librarians, aides, custodians, and other non-teaching staff – rallied at Thursday’s meeting, in what Chapter President Arlene Cristobal described as a “call to action.”

The more than 300 union members have been working without a contract since last June, according to Cristobal, who said that cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases and medical insurance are the major bones of contention.

“We haven’t had a COLA increase in six years,” she said.

The contracts are usually made for three-year periods. The union seeks a COLA increase and is willing to stagger it over that time-line – 3 percent the first year, then 2 percent, then another 2 percent.

The members of the union aren’t teachers, but Cristobal said they are every bit as vital in educating Castro Valley students. “My members are everyday people trying to get by. We aren’t asking to get rich, we just want something to live on.”

At last week’s meeting, Cristobal said that the members just wanted an opportunity to speak with the board.

“We were just there to tell our stories,” said Cristobal. “My members are just so tired. We are seeing 5-to-8 percent increases in insurance costs with nothing to offset that. There are people making less than what they did the year before.”

The board listened to the comments, but did not address speakers.

While negotiations are ongoing, Cristobal said the union has no work stoppages planned.

“We won’t strike; striking benefits nobody and hurts the kids,” Cristobal said. “It’s all wait and see at this point. Maybe when the state budget is more clear, we can all figure something out.





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